There’s a changing of the guard at Dementia Australia.
After almost 10 years as chair of the peak body, Professor Graeme Samuel will be finishing his tenure on 23 November – the date of the organisation’s annual general meeting.
As well, after seven years as the unfied peak’s chief executive officer and head of the state body Alzheimer’s Australia Vic for six years before that, Maree McCabe has announced she’ll be stepping away from the top role from 1 July 2024.
Both leaders leave the organisation after a decade of change marked by the unification of the former federated body and the fallout of the aged care royal commission.
“I am immensely proud of everything we have created and achieved at Dementia Australia,” Professor Samuel said.
It was his mother Shirley – who had dementia – who inspired Professor Samuel to become involved with the organisation.
“As a family we valued the support we received through the wonderful counselling and access to programs that made a difference to our lives. I wanted to contribute to ensure all Australians knew this support was available and that they are not alone.”
While Professor Samuel is relinquishing the role of chair, he will remain affiliated with DA and its associated entities. He will remain chair of the Dementia Australia Research Foundation, the Australian Dementia Network and the National Comprehensive Dementia Centres.
Dementia Australia learned of Professor Samuel’s decision to vacate the role of chair a year ago. The position will be filled by Merran Kelsall who joined the DA board earlier this year.
Ms Kelsall has 25 years’ experience as a company director and has has just completed her term as president and chair of finance firm CPA Australia.
“We are so pleased to welcome Ms Kelsall to the organisation and as a leader who brings with her enormous expertise and experience in corporate governance, finance, audit, risk and compliance,” Professor Samuel said.
Ms Kelsall is a director on the boards of Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, CareSuper, the Medical Indemnity Protection Society and the TarraWarra Museum of Arts.
Ms Kelsall said she was honoured to accept the role of DA chair. “Dementia Australia has a profound impact, and I am inspired to be joining an innovative, compassionate and professional organisation.”
“Thank you for the extraordinary work you do.”
Upon the announcement of her resignation from the CEO role, Ms McCabe paid tribute to the many people she has worked with over the past decade and more including DA staff, people living with dementia – and their families and carers – volunteers, and colleagues in the health and aged care sectors.
“To my colleagues across the sectors thank you for your support and for the extraordinary work you do that makes such a profound difference to our community.”
Ms McCabe also paid tribute to the many politicians she has worked with over the years. “Throughout I have always been impressed by the genuine commitment by all federal, state and territory ministers we have worked with who have used their influence to bring about once-in-a-generation changes to our system of dementia care,” she said.
To DA staff, Ms McCabe said: “As I look back at all we have achieved – and the dedication, care, compassion and consideration with which you all go about your work each and every day – I cannot tell you how honoured I am, and continue to be, working with you all. All of us, no matter our roles, have the privilege of coming to work, every day, to do such an important job that makes such a difference to the lives of the people we are here to serve.”
Ms McCabe also thanked Professor Samuel “for his extraordinary leadership and guidance” as DA chair before welcoming Ms Kelsall to the role.
“I welcome Ms Kelsall to Dementia Australia as we continue to fulfill on our vision of an inclusive future where all people impacted by dementia receive the care and support they choose.”
A search for Ms McCabe’s successor is now underway.
Main image: Maree McCabe
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