LEADING AGE SERVICES Australia explained

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Last week we detailed the surprise emergence of a new peak organisation, LEADING AGE SERVICES Australia (LASA). They announced that they will represent all service providers, advocating “for the health, community and accommodation needs of older Australians to help them live well, irrespective of their type of need, or where, or from whom they require services”.

Led by Aged Care Queensland (ACQ) and Aged and Community Care Victoria (ACCV) and supported by Aged Care Association Australia (ACAA), LASA will be a direct – but they claim friendly – challenge to the national ACSA representation. Why are they doing it and what is the background? Sundale CEO and ex ACSA National President Glenn Bunney is the acting LASA spokesperson and he explained to us the following:

• LASA only came about five weeks ago, following the decision by the National ACSA board to exclusively represent Not For Profit organisations
• This challenged the merger of ACSA and ACAA as ACAA represents largely the private care operators and some private village operators
• ACQ and ACCV have each successfully had both Not For Profit and Private operators for over ten years
• ACQ and ACCV do not believe the Australian Charities and Not For Profit Commission (ACNC), in assessing if the operations of Not For Profits should be regarded as ‘businesses’ and therefore taxable, will be influenced by a blended industry representation – a major concern for ACSA
• One peak body will be financially more efficient, delivering more funds for advocacy and policy work
• With the deregulation of the sector emerging out of the Productivity Commission recommendations and new entrants in ageing services, Government wants one peak body rather than many to work with
• Multi state operators – Private and Not For Profit, want one peak body to coordinate with
• Operators that have multiple services also desire one organisation to liaise with
• Suppliers to the sector desire one industry body to financially support and build relationships

A long list but logical. LASA in the short planning period has developed a detailed strategic plan which is at the printers and will be distributed shortly, including membership formats. Importantly, it openly accommodates state ACSA organisations and their nominating directors to the national LASA board. ACSA state offices will have to relinquish national ACSA membership however.

LASA has also fast tracked its leadership position by immediately replacing ACAA’s representation on Government committees and steering groups – the Top Table. Conveniently they have also joined the ACAA recruitment process for a new a new CEO to replace the retiring Rod Young – two LASA representatives are now on the interview panel. They expect an announcement of the successful appointment in the next few weeks.

The launch of LASA appears to have taken ACSA by surprise, but Glenn Bunney states it should not have as ACQ and ACCV have been advocating consistently the need to have one Not For Profit/Private voice for all ageing services and the February ACSA decision gave them no choice to act. With QLD and VIC tied up and an open door to ACSA state members, plus an attractive model for sponsor support funding – not to mention a sound rationale and strategy, LASA will likely win the day.

Media criticisms
Multiple negative articles appeared this week in the press, most notable being by Sydney columnist Mike Carlton who related his own family experience, as follows in part:

THE aged-care industry is one of the great rip-offs. This is especially true of the operators of these so-called retirement resorts who prey shamelessly upon elderly folk and their families at a vulnerable time in their lives.
Their advertising is wonderfully glossy, of course. Silver-haired and suntanned seniors, in rude good health, stroll off into glowing sunsets, cavort on golf courses or canoodle over a glass of red in a cheerful bistro.
The reality is very different. When push comes to shove it is a nightmare of legal contracts, hidden fees and charges, verbal promises made but never delivered, and for many – as the Herald reported on Thursday – the shocking discovery that you don’t actually own the retirement unit you thought was yours.
We replied to Mr. Carlton, quoting from our 2011 McCrindle Baynes Village survey. Amongst the data supplied was the following. If you would like a fuller account of rebuttal statistics email us we will supply them happily.

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