Changes at the top: sector peaks renew leadership at pivotal time

Leading Age Services Australia appoints a new chief executive officer as it moves to adopt a national model, becoming the third national peak body in the sector to announce a leadership change in recent weeks.

Leading Age Services Australia appoints a new chief executive officer as it moves to adopt a national model, becoming the third national peak body in the sector to announce a leadership change in recent weeks.

On Wednesday evening LASA announced it had appointed Sean Rooney, a former CEO of the Australian Medicare Local Alliance (AMLA), as its new chief executive officer, as the peak body entered the final stages of transitioning from a federated to national organisation.

Sean Rooney
Sean Rooney

Mr Rooney, who is currently executive director of sustainability and climate change in the ACT Government, has previously held executive roles at the CSIRO and in public, private, and not-for-profit organisations.

He takes over from Patrick Reid, who has been CEO of LASA for the past three years.

Mr Rooney is expected to begin in the role in June, at which point the required amendments to LASA’s constitution were expected to be completed, the peak body said.

Dr Graeme Blackman, LASA chairman, said Mr Rooney had practical experience at the nexus of the health and aged care sector from his time at the AMLA, where he managed the national, member-based organisation with a large workforce and an annual turnover of more than $28 million.

Patrick Reid
Patrick Reid

Mr Rooney said he was excited about the potential for influencing aged care reform and ensuring that the voices of LASA members were heard in policy making.

The LASA board thanked Mr Reid for his service, saying he had helped unify and strengthen the organisation’s policy and advocacy functions. “He has led our association through transition, policy reforms and a change in government. He leaves LASA in a far stronger position today,” said Dr Blackman.

Several leadership changes

LASA is the third national peak body in the sector to announce changes to its executive.

Earlier on Wednesday National Seniors announced its CEO Michael O’Neil was stepping down after 10 years in the top job.

Michael O'Neill
Michael O’Neill

Mr O’Neill said it was time for “fresh blood and fresh ideas” at the organisation.

“When I commenced this role in 2006, I received a legacy of 30 years of growth and development. I leave at the 40-year mark, confident that the organisation is in good shape with a bright future,” said Mr O’Neill, who said he planned to remain in the workforce.

National Seniors chairman David Carvosso said Mr O’Neill had been an outstanding lobbyist for older Australians with both government and big business.

“Michael started with National Seniors in 2006, promising to stay for five years. We are fortunate that he has stayed in the job for nearly a decade,” said Mr Carvosso.

John Kelly
John Kelly

The National Seniors board said it had embarked on an extensive recruitment process, with a replacement to be announced in May.

Last week Australian Ageing Agenda reported that John Kelly, CEO of Aged and Community Services since 2012, was stepping down as the peak body also progressed with moves to transition from a federated to national entity.

ACSA said it was now recruiting a new leader to oversee the new management structure, which would bring together 70 staff nationally.

Changes come at momentous time

The changes in leadership at the peak bodies come at a pivotal time, as providers and consumers await to hear the government’s plans for the next phase of reforms to the sector.

The Aged Care Sector Committee, which is the government-appointed body of providers, consumers and professionals, provided its ‘roadmap for reform’ to the Minister for Aged Care Sussan Ley in early December.

Since then stakeholders have been awaiting the government’s response, and many were expecting further discussions on the proposals.

The committee’s roadmap was largely informed by the earlier blueprint produced by the National Aged Care Alliance, the broader consortium of aged care providers, consumers and professional groups that provides a forum to achieve consensus between stakeholders.

The Federal Government has already flagged that it sees residential aged care as the next area requiring reform (see our previous coverage here and here).

The peak bodies will also be gearing up for this year’s federal election, hoping to make aged care an election issue with all major political parties, and gathering support for addressing the sector’s workforce issues in particular.

And there are the ongoing issues with the rollout of the current Living Longer Living Better reforms – such as some unintended negative consequences from CDC and implementation problems with My Aged Care – that require lobbying of the department.

Want to have your say on this story? Comment below. Send us your news and tip-offs to 

Subscribe to Australian Ageing Agenda magazine (includes Technology Review

Sign up to AAA newsletters

Tags: acsa, david-carvosso, Graeme-blackman, john-kelly, lasa, michael-oneill, national-seniors, patrick-reid, peak-body, policy, reform, Sean Rooney,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *