Carpe diem!

A new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers says there’s no better time to tackle a unified industry association.

Above: CEO of ACCV, Gerard Mansour

By Keryn Curtis

‘Seize the day’ is the take-home message of a new report by business consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released today, about the value of forming a single peak association for aged care in Australia.

The report, Is the sum greater than its parts? The value of a single industry aged care association, says that, “with the Productivity Commission [PC] soon to provide its recommendations to the Commonwealth Government, now is the time for the industry to be most impactful at the national level.”

And that means change, the report says – from the current scenario of three national industry associations representing for-profit, not-for-profit providers and retirement villages, and 10 industry associations representing providers at a State level – to, at the very minimum, “a coming together of the associations at the national level”.

The very minimum option, however, is not favoured by the report.  Rather, the report proposes two possible models for consideration and discussion: a ‘federated model’ – an example of which is the Australian Medical Association – and a ‘national model’ – as exemplified by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

The report – the result of four months of analysis – was commissioned by Aged and Community Care Victoria (ACCV) but was quickly supported by Aged Care Queensland, both state organisations which have successfully undergone an amalgamation process. 

An outcomes focus

ACCV CEO, Gerard Mansour says to achieve the intended purpose, it was important that the analysis and resulting report come from a reputable independent business consultancy.

“We could have undertaken a similar process ourselves and produced a report but there would be the inevitable perception of partiality and we wanted people to listen, so it was important that the process was external and independent.

“This isn’t just about structure and governance issues but about how we measure our own performance and how well we are achieving the objectives we set out to achieve,” said Mr Mansour.

“There’s not much conversation around what defines a successful industry association.  We’re so focused on what we do for others, we don’t take the time to shine the light on ourselves and see how we are going as organisations.  Our members pay us to get strong outcomes yet we have very few measures of ourselves.

“What role do we play?  What are our KPIs (key performance indicators)? How well are we doing against our KPI’s?  If you Google ‘KPI’s’ and ‘industry associations’ it’s pretty much a blank book,” he said.

Mr Mansour said he wanted members of the respective associations to carefully read and consider the report and ‘embrace the science’.

“It’s not just about passion and a great group of people. We have to ask ourselves the tough questions. This report offers a measured analysis of a different form of structure and governance and an invitation for discussion. 

“Our current structure is really out of date and it doesn’t don’t achieve what we want – the profile we want, the unity of voice, the speed of response and value for money  – we can do better in these areas and there is a wealth of collective knowledge out there that we can learn from.”

Above: CEO of ACQI, Nick Ryan

Measurable and scientific

Aged Care Queensland CEO, Nick Ryan, agrees the report shifts the paradigm for the long-running debate by focusing on the right questions and taking a ‘helicopter view’.

“PwC is a big, bold, experienced agency and they call it as they see it.  They identified a range of member expectations and key outcome criteria for the successful performance of a national association and they measured the current model and a couple of other models against that criteria. 

“Out of a possible 100 per cent, the current model got 48 per cent – not even a pass mark!”

Mr Ryan said the report systematically considers the strengths and weaknesses of the two broad approaches – a federated model and a national model – and encourages timely and robust discussion about options.

“It’s not just about a new structure. Good processes and good culture will be essential. Everyone needs to be fully informed and there needs to be a proper change management process.

“We are asking people to read the report and recognise that now is the time for change and adopt a positive, open approach. Differences need to be seen as creative opportunities not cause for divisiveness,” he said.

Above: A PwC director, Sarina Fisher

Respect for differences

The report’s key author, Sarina Fisher, a Director at PwC, says the report’s key objective is to get discussion started.

“Essentially the report is saying, ‘please consider’. And take this opportunity seriously because opportunities like this don’t come around very often. We started by looking at some of the synergies of the different operations but what quickly emerged was what you missed if you didn’t go down [the merger] route.

“It is not to downplay the challenges in getting there but this is absolutely an opportunity for change with the timing of the big debates in aged care and I hope people can see the positives in that.”

Ms Fisher described the report as the start of an important journey.

“We need to be respectful of the differences. I’ve tried to write it so everyone can see a positive in it because there needs to be buy-in along the way. What you wouldn’t want is for the process to be unpicked because it was seen to be disrespectful of differences,” she said.

“There is a growing momentum and we need to get on the wave.  The right people need to get into the right rooms together quickly and make some at least interim decisions in the next few months.”


The report, Is the sum greater than the parts? The value of a single industry aged care association is available on the website

A video overview presentation of the report is also available on the website    [To obtain a copy for reproduction on a website, email]

An online poll is also being conducted to determine reader’s responses to the following statement:

“It is time for aged and senior service providers, ACSA, ACAA and RVA to work together as a priority to create a new united Australian aged and senior services association, representing the entire industry.”

The poll is available on the website

Tags: accv, acqi, aged, aged-and-community-care-victoria, aged-care, aged-care-queensland, care, is-the-sum-greater-than-its-parts, pc, peak-bodies, pharmacy-guild-of-australia, pricewaterhousecoopers, productivity-commission, pwc, united-voice,

4 thoughts on “Carpe diem!

  1. Well that’s two state aged care associations that agree with themselves! It will be interesting to see how the other seven line up. I am well off out of these issues these days but I do wonder what Victoria and Queensland think they will achieve with this report. ‘Embrace the science’ but watch the spin would be my advice if KPIs include counting media releases of the ‘Aged care leader has bowel movement’ variety

  2. Both ACCV and ACCQI are aware that there is a survey underway to ascertain the opinions of the members of each State in relation to this issue, so why do they insist on pushing the case for amalgamation with ACCA when the future structure of ACSA is still to be determined? Back off or your cause shall flounder as other states will not be pushed into something we do not want.

  3. Qld and Vic have a missionary zeal on this issue David and have also put themselves into the labour-intensive position of belonging to two national peak bodies (two sets of committees etc)Their report shows no awareness of the perspectives of other states or much for facts in general if you read the PWC footnotes to the tables! It’s about proselytizing more than analysis. This is no longer my business but I do wonder about the discipline of and leadership by the national ACSA Board that allows this sort of thing to go on unchecked.

  4. One of Paul Keating’s great lines was “In the race of life always back least you know it’s trying”. Let’s step back from the report’s statements and ask, “What’s the self-interest?” in its commissioning and publication at this stage? And, maybe to help us in answering this question, there’s an old saying that if you can’t quite find out motivations, follow the money.

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