Council of Elders on aged care announced

Lived experience, diverse backgrounds, strong expertise.

Senior Australians now have a strong, formal voice to government on ageing and aged care matters, with the 14 members of the new Council of Elders – a specific recommendation coming out of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The Council of Elders will be led by inaugural Chair Ian Yates AM, who will also sit on the new National Aged Care Advisory Council.  Dr Michael Barbato OAM is the rural doctor and palliative care specialist on the council.

Mr Yates will ensure the voice of senior Australians is heard and that advice is provided to the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, and the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, and the Department of Health.

The Council of Elders will engage widely on many aspects of aged care from the perspective of the quality and safety of care and the rights and dignity of older people.

Members include 2021 Senior Australian of the Year Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM, dementia advocate Gwenda Darling, writer and carer Danijela Hlis, Age Discrimination Commissioner Kay Patterson AO, and indigenous campaigner Professor Tom Calma AO.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said Council members have strong expertise, diverse backgrounds and lived experience that would help ensure aged care meets the needs and expectations of senior Australians, their families and carers, and the Australian community.

“Council members, all appointed for two-year terms, will provide advice to government, coordinate feedback from senior Australians and their families and communities, and help to build community awareness of ageing and aged care matters,” Minister Hunt said.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck said over 130 high calibre senior Australians had nominated to be part of the council.

“We carefully reviewed every nomination, and each person would have made a positive difference as a council member,” Minister Colbeck said.

“I thank every person for their nomination and have invited them to contribute their diverse experience and expertise in other ways.”

Mr Yates, CEO of Council of the Ageing, said it was an honour and privilege to serve alongside such experienced members.

“This is an exciting initiative that we have not had before,” Mr Yates said.  “Having a voice of senior Australians direct to Government will be key to ensure the reforms from the royal commission continue to have the voice of those that experience the system at their centre.”

The first Council of Elders has an appropriately diverse range of experience, background, location and opinions and I look forward to working with the members of the Council to provide this important voice to Ministers and the National Aged Care Advisory Council.”

Minister Colbeck said the new National Aged Care Advisory Council and the Council of Elders were part of the government’s $18.3 billion reform package being delivered over the next five years.

“These reforms will help all Australians feel confident about accessing high quality aged care when they need it – offering greater choice and control, and helping people maintain independence as they age,” Minister Colbeck said.

“So far, thousands of people have engaged with us on the design of reforms such as quality standards and support at home, and over 13,000 people have participated in 8 webinars about the reforms.”

Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) Chief Executive Officer Craig Gear welcomed the appointment of the council.

“We are excited by the announcement of the inaugural members of Australia’s first Council of Elders,” Mr Gear said.  “Older people have been telling us for a long time that there should be ‘nothing about us without us’ and the Council of Elders is a good step along this journey which will help inform aged care reform from their perspective. 

“Importantly, we are pleased with the inclusion of a number of older people with lived experience of aged care to guide the transformation of aged care for themselves and the people they care for”

Visit the Ageing and Aged Care Engagement Hub to read about the reforms and to participate in engagement activities, here.

For more information on the Council of Elders and its members see here.