COTA Australia announces appointment of new Chief Executive

COTA Australia, the peak body for older Australians, has today announced the appointment of Patricia Sparrow as its next Chief Executive, to succeed Ian Yates.

Ms Sparrow returns to COTA Australia with extensive experience in human services over a long career including in local and state governments and the non-government sector, and as an aged care advisor to Federal Ministers. She is an experienced and very successful Chief Executive Officer having fulfilled that role at Vision 2020 Australia and the peak body for non-profit aged care providers, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) for five years.

Ms Sparrow will replace Ian Yates AM, D Univ (Flinders) who has played pivotal roles in Councils on the Ageing for over 33 years, including 20 years at the helm of COTA Australia.

COTA Australia Chair, Professor Jane Halton AO PSM, said the appointment of Patricia Sparrow would ensure great continuity in the organisation’s vital role as the peak policy and advocacy body representing older Australians.

“Patricia Sparrow has a wealth of experience and brings with her a great passion for the rights and wellbeing of older Australians,” Professor Halton said.

“She has already been instrumental in achieving important changes for older Australians in her previous roles and will bring a level of knowledge, enthusiasm and experience to COTA Australia that makes her an ideal successor to Ian Yates.

“While Australia has come a long way when it comes to understanding and respecting the rights and needs of older Australians, there is still a long way to go, and Patricia is the ideal person to help us navigate the challenges ahead.”

Patricia Sparrow said: “I am truly excited to be taking up the reins at COTA Australia. Age discrimination, employment, cost of living, retirement incomes and secure housing, especially for older women – as well as aged care – are amongst the nation’s biggest challenges for the next few decades and ones that I am passionate about addressing. My priorities will be to improve equality in the delivery of all services and harness the power of the new generation of older Australians for good.

“It will be a big challenge to fill Ian’s shoes but I’m confident that with the talented COTA Australia team and my background across consumer advocacy, government and business we have the right tools to take COTA Australia forward and improve outcomes for older people.

Professor Halton also paid tribute to the outgoing Chief Executive, saying the contribution Ian Yates has made cannot be overestimated.

“Ian Yates has been at the forefront of advocating for the rights of older Australians for over three decades and in that time has been instrumental in pushing for and achieving crucial reforms such as the increase to the aged pension, superannuation reform and especially major aged care reforms, as well as countless other measures which have helped improve the lives of older Australians.

“Ian hasn’t just made an important contribution to COTA Australia as an organisation, he’s played a pivotal role in shaping the way older people are seen and heard in our country. While of course there are still many big challenges ahead, there’s no doubt we’ve come a long way as a country when it comes to the roles and welfare of older Australians and Ian has been at the centre of that.

“Ian has achieved great things at COTA Australia, but all good things must come to an end. Ian will work with the incoming Chief Executive to ensure a smooth transition in leadership. He will continue to contribute to the welfare of older Australians in other roles such as Chair of the Council of Elders.”

Patricia Sparrow will take up her new role in December.

For further information contact: Alana Mew 0419 929 722.
Jane Halton and Patricia Sparrow are available for interview via Alana.
Ian Yates is available on 0418 835 439.