How LASA works

The first details of the structure, function, vision and values of the newly formed aged care peak body group, Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) are revealed.

By Keryn Curtis

Six days after the official launch of the new aged care peak industry association, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), details are beginning to emerge.

Today the fledgling organisation has revealed its first information package, intended to clarify the vision, function and proposed operational model of the new organisation.  In addition to a logo page (pictured), the package consists of a six-page ‘Prospectus’, a six-page ‘Strategic Plan’ and seven pages of questions and answers (Q&A), designed to address key questions and potential concerns about the new peak body.

As reported last week, LASA is describing itself as “the only truly national aged services peak group”.  This claim is supported by its commitment to represent all participants in the aged services sector, “regardless of their service offering or ownership status.” 

According to LASA’s prospectus, “all businesses, both for profit and not for profit, providing services, care or accommodation to older Australians, are welcome to join their state Leading Age Services Australia association.” 

Among the information materials are details of LASA’s mission, vision and values which heavily advocate a cooperative, constructive and ethical approach to providing leadership; promoting best evidence-based practice; facilitating information sharing and communication; and encouraging active member engagement in securing “a sustainable and united sector that provides quality services to help Australians live well.”

The LASA documents make special and repeated reference to the importance of being active in advocating and developing policy for special needs groups, specifically identifying Culturally and Linguistically Diverse groups (CALD), the homeless, people with mental health concerns, people with disabilities, those in rural and remote locations, indigenous groups and young people in nursing homes. 

LASA also emphasises the promotion of ‘positive ageing’ as a goal, including the “continuous improvement of holistic, person-centred, high quality care and accommodation for older Australians.”

A structured time line

In the immediate term, LASA consists of the three founding members – Aged Care Association Australia (ACAA), Aged and Community Care Victoria (ACCV) and Aged Care Queensland (ACQ), each of whom is appointing two directors to an initial board that will remain in place for the first 90 days. 

At the end of this phase, it is expected that ACAA, as a national entity, will cease to be a member.  In the meantime, ACAA is coordinating with its current state members to become the ‘primary LASA member’ in each state jurisdiction (see below). If ACAA members do not accept ACAA’s (national) resignation of membership from LASA, ACAA will retain membership but will have no right to nominate a director to the Board.

LASA’s second phase will be three years, commencing from the organisation’s official operational launch on 1 July 2012.  During that phase, all member associations in the aged services sector will be invited to join LASA, including the state associations for both ACAA and ACSA, “and national associations that share the same goals as LASA”.

According to the Q&A document, state member associations will become members of LASA, while individual providers will become members of the state associations of LASA.  

Competitive membership status

During this initial three-year period, there will be two categories of state membership – ‘primary state members’ and ‘secondary state members’.  From AAA’s reading of the establishment process outlined in the Q & A document, the former category of membership, which will enable two directors with voting rights, will be extended to the first state member association in the aged services sector that expresses the wish to join LASA.  Unsurprisingly, according to the documents, “the approved state member is expected to be the current state ACAA associations” in the first instance.

Secondary state membership will be available to a state member association wishing to join LASA where there is already a state member. Where there are two State member associations wishing to join, the secondary member will be required to actively pursue amalgamation or a merger with the primary state member in order to secure one of the two state voting rights.

During this three-year phase the board will be known as an interim board. There will be twelve directors (two from each jurisdiction, ie Qld, Vic, NSW, WA, Tas, SA & NT), while additional directors may be appointed at the discretion of the board.  In addition, an independent chair of LASA will be appointed.  The LASA document describes the chair as “someone of appropriate credentials and standing reflecting the importance of our industry” and LASA’s current spokesperson, Glenn Bunney, says, to ensure perspective and independence, the chair will be appointed from outside the aged care sector.

Broad church, including suppliers

National member associations are also invited to join as an ‘affiliate member’ – a member classification described as “any organisation admitted by the Directors who has an interest in the Company’s objects but cannot become a state member.”  Notably, by example, this includes the Retirement Villages Association (RVA).

LASA says it is welcoming all new members, including any member association representing providers of any type of accommodation and care services to older Australians.

To become a member of the organisation, all members will need to meet the conditions set out in LASA’s constitution (the constitution of the Leading Age Services Australia Federation) and the LASA board will vote to accept new members.

Invitations to join LASA are being extended to all providers of care, support and accommodation for older Australians in each jurisdiction, “including businesses that seek to promote their goods and services to providers.” The boards of the various State association members of LASA will vote to accept or reject new members.

Special status is identified for service providers that operate in multiple states, referred to as Multi-State Large Providers (MSLPs).  These providers will be formal members of a ‘home state’ which may be the state association in which they hold the largest number of beds/packages/units etc or alternatively, whichever state they choose.

The state jurisdictions will recognise the special status of MSLPs and the National LASA board will develop a MSLP engagement strategy to ensure MSLPs “have access to the national board on a regular basis, as determined by the national board from time to time.”

Providers can work through their state associations to access ‘the full suite’ of state member services relevant to all types of providers across the care spectrum, including membership, conferences and events, education and training, advisory support, consulting services, and state- based information services.

The final phase

The ultimate structure of LASA would see only three membership categories – founding members, primary members and affiliate members, each with only one vote each, not two, per (state) jurisdiction.

After the first three years, in July 2015, LASA’s interim board will be replaced by a continuing board made up of the independent chair, six directors representing the six jurisdictional members, plus an additional two independent directors.  Additional directors may be considered by agreement of other board members.

The LASA documents say the organisation’s Canberra-based national office will provide well- resourced expertise to undertake government relations and advocacy, media and communications, national policy research, industry data analysis, and national event management.

They say, eliminating duplication in age services’ industry associations will provide greater efficiency and a better use of our members’ resources, and in turn ensure maximum impact for lobbying, media commentary and advocacy activities.

Priorities for 2012-13:

Leading Age Services Australia will operate from 1 July 2012, immediately replacing ACAA at existing joint industry councils, boards, and advisory forums while the organisation says it will look for new opportunities to be involved in collaborative forums that will shape the age services sector.

LASA says it will be appropriately resourced to undertake the substantial scope of work needed for the coming reforms and will immediately be a significant force for influencing all age services issues.

NOTE to readers: Access to these documents is expected to be made publically available today.  AAA will advise further via our facebook and twitter networks and will post a follow up story with more details later today.  The LASA website, www.lasa.asn.au is expected to be functional as soon as possible.  In the meantime, inquiries can be made by email to info@lasa.asn.au or by contacting any one of the founding members of LASA.

Tags: lasa, lasa-board, leading-age-services-australia, new-peak-body,

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