Aged Care Reform Now began like so many “people-powered” movements – with a few hard-working and dedicated women sitting around a kitchen table. The team, known as the “kitchen cabinet”, has evolved and will continue to evolve. We work in consultation with our External Advisors and our Facebook communities.
Dr Sarah Russell
Dr Sarah Russell trained as a critical care nurse before completing a Bachelor of Arts and a PhD at the University of Melbourne. She has been the Principal Researcher at Research Matters since 1999. She is also the Director of Aged Care Matters.
Sarah became interested in aged care when her parents moved into an aged care home. After her father died, she stopped full-time work so she could spend as much time with her mum as possible. She wanted her mum’s quality of life to be as good as it could be. She wanted her mum to feel valued and be engaged in her ‘twilight years’. The time Sarah spent with her mum in the aged care home was precious for them both. Sarah enjoyed the four years she spent with residents, families, and staff, and watched the comings and goings at Victoria By The Park with a critical eye.
Sarah’s opinion pieces and letters on aged care have been published in The Age, The Guardian, Herald Sun, Michael West Media, to name a few. Sarah has also discussed aged care on television programs including The Project, 7.30, ABC News Breakfast, Afternoon Briefing, Today, and Sunrise. She is also frequently interviewed on ABC radio.
Sarah has undertaken several research projects on aged care. Her home care research commissioned by the Minister for Aged Care was published in a peer-reviewed journal, Australasian Journal on Ageing.
Sarah believes the aged care system requires greater scrutiny, accountability, and transparency. She advocates for an aged care system that is focused on the human rights of older people.
Erietta Sapounakis works as a user experience and service designer, helping organisations improve their products, services, and processes to better meet the needs of their users, customers, and staff.
Erietta’s interest in aged care followed her father’s illness and family’s experience with health and aged care providers. She went on to work for one of these providers, an aged care not-for-profit for two years meeting many dedicated and inspiring workers.
Erietta believes that the government’s ‘consumer directed care’ model has failed to deliver better services for older people needing care and their families. Information and services remain disjointed with little accommodation for the stress and grief inherent in the experience. New perspectives are needed – and the direction of change needs to be led by older people, their families, and aged care staff.
Anna Willis is a solicitor with extensive financial services experience, providing advice on a variety of commercial and property matters.
Anna is passionate about building a community of consumers, whose combined voices can deliver improved products and services. Anna launched issue.watch, to provide a platform for people to speak up, about the issues affecting their lives that Australian corporations are not fixing. Anna has established an independent, transparent complaints management system in aged care, so that issues can be resolved efficiently and effectively. The proper handling of complaints is necessary to improve practices and procedures in both residential and home care.
Anna joined Aged Care Reform Now because she wants to be part of a movement that demands significant improvements in the delivery of services for older Australians.
Michelle Chaperon is the founder of Carers’ Circle – caring for ageing parents, a resource to help the children of ageing parents navigate their way through this complicated time.
As a daughter of ageing parents herself, Michelle started the website to help others in the same situation. It’s often the children of ageing parents that need to help their parents make decisions, or even make the decisions for them – all in line with their wishes of course. She wants to help people make informed choices.
Michelle believes in positive ageing. She believes by helping the children of ageing parents, she will help the elderly live happier and healthy lives.
Michelle’s role as an advocate for the children of ageing parents, is in addition to her professional career. She is a corporate affairs and marketing professional with more than 20 years experience in communications and marketing roles across the property, finance and technology sectors.
Peter Norden AO
Peter has first-hand experience with the aged care system. In 2019, he phoned My Aged Care to arrange home support before he had surgery. He was assessed and approved for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. All went well until he needed to have his services updated. Being confronted with complex bureaucracy on all sides, and not knowing where to turn, he asked Dr. Sarah Russell for her help.
Peter has been involved in social justice and human rights activism for several decades and welcomes joining a movement that advocates for older people and families to have a say in the way aged care services are designed.
Glenda worked as a Registered Nurse for 50 years, including 23 years in the aged care “industry”. Glenda wrote her first letter to The Age about inadequate staffing in aged care homes on 13 March 2000. It was the featured letter titled “Why aged care facilities are unusual homes”. The last paragraph stated: “I would urge the public to harness their current outrage and lobby now for higher staff resident ratios and ongoing education.”
Glenda hoped this letter would make a difference. When it didn’t, she wrote another letter to The Age two months later titled “For $40,000 why can’t Phyllis get good care?” It also featured as the main letter of the day. “I would ask you, the community, to continue to ask questions and acquaint yourself with the social injustice being meted out to silent residents in nursing home beds”.
Glenda then launched a petition requesting an urgent review of staff resident ratios. The petition was signed by 18,021 concerned Australian citizens. Publicity about the petition prompted more than 600 distressed and angry family members to phone her. The petition was tabled in Federal Parliament in early 2001.
Staffing issues have formed the basis of most of Glenda’s letters to The Age and HeraldSun over the past 21 years. She just keeps on writing.
Our external advisors have been selected based on their specific areas of expertise – human rights law, policy, activism and a broad understanding of the complexities of the aged care system.
Professor Jan Carter AM
Jan Carter is a carer for her mother, aged 101 and now in residential age care, although in retirement age herself. She first worked with older people needing home and nursing home care as a social worker at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Later in the UK, she undertook a 5-year national survey of day and community services for older people for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Spurred by her father’s illness, she undertook the first Australian survey on dementia and its services for the University of NSW Social Policy Research Centre and later, as Director of Research and Policy for the Brotherhood of St Laurence, researched and advocated for better services for older people on low incomes. She has held professorial appointments at the University of Melbourne and Deakin University, has been an adjunct professor at the University of Queensland, Griffith and Latrobe Universities, and was a long-term Member of Commonwealth research-grant bodies. She is a published writer: including her award-winning book, Nothing To Spare, about the childhoods of then old women born before 1900 (Penguin Books) and her Day Services for Adults: Somewhere to Go (being republished by Routledge UK).
Mark spent over 30 years working as a registered nurse. He has held senior leadership positions, including in aged care. He spent the past few years as a manager of an aged care home where he gained extensive knowledge of aged care frameworks, legislative requirements, and the day-to-day challenges of working in aged care. Mark is passionate about ensuring older people and their families have a voice in their care and living environments. He is also interested in innovation that improves the quality of life of older people and exceptional end-of-life care.
Dr Bryan Keon-Cohen AM QC
Bryan was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne, studied Law/Arts at Melbourne University and commenced practice at the Victorian Bar in 1981. He acted for traditional owners in many native title claims; for refugee applicants seeking resident status; and in administrative, environmental, and constitutional law cases, including in the Federal and High Courts. He acted for the plaintiffs in Mabo (1982-92) which established indigenous land rights in Australia. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1996 and retired in 2016.
Bryan has lectured and published extensively on native title issues. He graduated PhD at Monash University in 2010 and published his thesis, written for the non-lawyer, A Mabo Memoir (2013).
In 2012 he was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia, General Division (AM) for services to the law, especially Indigenous rights.
During 2012-13 he was Chairman of COIN (Commission of Enquiry Now), a community group assisting survivors of child sexual abuse before the Royal Commission into that matter. He is currently Chairman of ALARM Inc. (Aged-care Legal Advocacy and Reform Matter), a not-for-profit group advocating for justice for residents suffering abuse in residential aged care, and for systemic law reform in that sector in Australia.
Liz is a 30-year veteran of the mainstream media, having worked at The Guardian in London for eight years and The Age in Melbourne for 20 years. She is currently Editor of Michael West Media and Editor of John Menadue’s online policy journal Pearls and Irritations. Liz has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree. In an earlier life, Liz was a professional tennis player, winning the US Open junior title in 1983, representing Australia in the Fed Cup in 1984 and the 1984 LA Olympics. She is passionate about social justice and is concerned about the corporatisation of human services that is underpinned by neo-liberalism. Her interest in aged care began 10 years ago following a phone call she made as The Age Letters editor to Sarah Russell to check a letter. Sarah and Liz frequently write features and Op-eds together about the failures of the aged care system.