Meet the new LASA-Victoria CEO, John Begg

By Yasmin Noone

Leading Age Services Australia – Victoria (LASA Victoria) has a new leader at its helm to drive the state-based peak body through contentious mission-versus-profit debates and an era of reform implementation.

The now CEO of LASA-Victoria, John Begg, has almost 20 years experience within the sector, having previously worked in senior management roles for not-for-profit (NFP) and for-profit (FP) aged care and independent retirement living organisations, and as a private sector consultant.

His resume includes such organisation names as Benetas, the Gandel Group and the International Management Group (IMG) and he has worked in the areas of strategic planning, marketing and human resources.

Mr Begg originally started out his working life as a school teacher and had his first brush with aged care in a business/finance role for the former financial institution and aged care provider, IOOF.

“That’s where I started and I have never left the industry,” he told AAA today, on this his third day on the job.

He explained that his reason for staying so devoted to the sector over the years comes down to “one and one thing only: it’s the people”.

” I just love what I do and love sharing time with older people in our society.

“And I know I’m going to be there myself one day,” he said in humor.

“When I first came to really understand the industry in the early days, I realised we really have a major social responsibility to our older generations.

“We talk about immigration issues and poverty in the street but if you look at our ageing population, it’s a massive segment of the population.

“And [they represent] a significant component of our economy.

“But if we don’t get it all right, now and in the future, I see that as being one of the most [important] political and social issues moving forward.”

Is it really a question of mission?

Mr Begg commented on the NFP/FP debate currently being discussed at conferences and within industry media.

His stance is clear – he does not believe the differences between mission-based organisations matter that greatly in the grand scheme of things. All aged care organisations have a purpose and that is to improve the quality of life of all older Australians.

What therefore matters, Mr Begg said, is how organisations live out that purpose.

“You have to take the politics and the egos out and look at [what you do],” Mr Begg said.

“It doesn’t matter what you call it. Look at what’s our common purpose. Our purpose is to deliver a better aged care service in Australia.

“If hospitals and the [broader] health system can do it, why can’t we?”

NFP organisations, he added, are not “not-for-loss”.

“I have worked in many NFPs. And, at end of the day, they still have to be commercially sustainable.

“A for-profit may be returning profits from an investment to their shareholders and good luck to them if they can, just as long as it’s not at the expense of the delivery of aged care services.”

Mr Begg predicted that some providers will need to adopt a more commercial approach to running their business in the increasingly competitive aged care market of the future.

And it will not matter whether they are NFP or FP – if they can not survive financially in an increasingly dynamic market, they will not be able to fulfill their own social and mission-based goals.

“That is the way the world will always work. The aged care sector is now a very competitive industry and it’s an industry which is only going to get bigger.”

Aged care reform and advocacy

Mr Begg said he aims to work with LASA Vic members, in this current time of change, to ensure that federal government reform reaps the best possible outcomes for aged care providers and older Australians.

“The aged care industry has become more complex, with the ways older Australian’s receive their care – and their demand for it – set to shift in the coming years.”

“These changes strengthen the need for a strong, united industry voice for aged care in Victoria.

“LASA Victoria will continue to be that voice for members, and I am delighted to be leading the organisation at this time of great change and opportunity for our industry.”

And, he added, “…if the organisation’s members are provided with a good service, then the ultimate end-user of aged care services (the resident or care recipient) will eventually be better off”.

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