One peak body to represent them all?

The new peak association that wants to represent all aged care providers was officially launched at Parliament House in Canberra yesterday afternoon.

Above: The official launch of Leading Age Services Australia at Parliament House yesterday.

By Stephen Easton

Leading Age Services Australia, the new peak association that aims to represent all providers of accommodation, care and other services for older Australians, was officially launched yesterday afternoon at Parliament House in Canberra.

The LASA board of directors was also named, with former Australian Defence Force chief General Peter Cosgrove to serve as inaugural chair.

The new national association was formed out of Aged Care Association Australia (ACAA) and two of its state member associations, Aged and Community Care Victoria (ACCV) and Aged Care Queensland (ACQ), both of which were also previously members of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) as well as ACAA.

Other board positions were filled by the respective presidents of these founding organisations: ACAA president and CEO of the Salerno Group, Bryan Dorman; ACCV president and CEO of Villa Maria, Valerie Lyons; and Marcus Riley, president of ACQ and CEO of the Hibernian Friendly Society.

They will be joined by Glenn Bunney, CEO of Sundale, Robert Orie, CEO of Sir Moses Montefiori Jewish Home and Mal Humphries, director of development at Arcare.

Above: LASA board member and CEO of Sundale, Glen Bunney.

The decision to form LASA was made after the ACSA board rejected a proposed merger with ACAA at a national level in February, citing insufficent support among members for the move, which would have formed a single peak association, as LASA now intends to be.

At the time, Mr Bunney described the decision of the ACSA board as a “bitter disappointment” and “a dark day for our industry and our elders,” in a comment posted on the AAA website, in which he also suggested the decision had been taken against the wishes of the majority of aged care providers belonging to the state-based associations that make up ACSA.

The new LASA prospectus handed out at the launch states that “Australian age services providers have made it clear that they want a single unified voice representing their interests, with independent research demonstrating support for a united industry body being 3:1 in favour”.

Above: Australian Greens senator and spokesperson for ageing, Rachel Siewert.

Addressing the audience of parliamentarians, CEOs, union representatives and aged care industry professionals, Greens senator and spokesperson on ageing issues, Rachel Siewert, linked the formation of the new association to the reform package recently announced by the government, and the pressing need for strong representation at this time.

“I’m hoping that you can provide a loud, good, quality voice into the discussions on aged care, because it’s essential … that we do have that voice into the reform process and that we get it right,” Ms Siewert said.

 “[…] If we don’t get it right now, I’m very concerned about where we are going to in the future. So well done, congratulations, and I think the hard work continues on from here.”

Above, L-R: Alexis Cleary, Martin Laverty, Rod Young and Robert Fitzgerald.

Mr Bunney addressed any concerns that the new peak body could harm the sector’s ability to engage in the reform process, before introducing the inaugural CEO of LASA, Gerard Mansour, who will take up his post on 2 July after three-week holiday.

“Some people have asked us whether now was the right time to launch a new national body,” he said. “My response to that, as Rachel has just raised, is there has never been a better time to raise a new inclusive, national body in the ageing services industry.”

Mr Mansour said in his speech that the three organisations had formed LASA “because of our passionate belief that we desperately need a national industry body that speaks on behalf of all aged care providers in our industry”. 

“There is no doubt that what unites us is far greater than what divides us,” he continued.

“A vitally important feature of our industry is the diversity itself amongst aged care providers. Their differing business models, organisational approaches, and cultures adds great value in providing our community with real choice and options that they need. Yet in fundamental policy design, there is in fact one aged care system.

“It is with a real sense of excitement that Leading Age Services Australia embraces being the voice of this rich and diverse tapestry of organisations.

“Our mantra is all age services, speaking as one.”

Above: Applause for the new peak body.

Tags: acaa, accv, acq, acsa, lasa,

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