Policy Forum 2015

Policy Forum 2015

Gender and Ageing

When: Thursday 2 July, 2015
Time: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Where: National Press Club, Canberra

The genders have a very different experience of later life.

In general women tend to live longer and maintain better physical and psychological health yet they enter later life much less well prepared financially. Men, though better off financially, find it more difficult to maintain wellbeing into old age and are more likely to experience social isolation and mental health issues. While, intersex and transgender people face very specific challenges as they get older and much more can be done to ensure they have an equitable later life.

Finally, people’s life experiences are also strongly influenced by such factors as culture, language and location. These and other aspects of human diversity affect the experience and meaning of gender in older age too.

In 2015 COTA Australia will explore what it takes to ensure that the genders are equally well prepared for having the best possible experience in later life.

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Keynote Speaker

Ms Renée Leon PSM, Secretary, Department of Employment

Renee LeonRenée Leon was appointed Secretary of the Department of Employment on 18 September 2013 responsible for workplace relations policy and employment services. Renée has been in the public sector for over 20 years. She has served as Deputy Secretary in the Attorney-General’s Department and in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Renée also spent three years as Chief Executive of the Act Department of Justice and Community Safety.

She was awarded a Public Service Medal in 2013 for outstanding public service to public administration and law in leadership roles in the Australian Capital Territory and the Commonwealth.


Dr Gávi Ansara, Manager Research and Policy, National LGBTI Health Alliance

Gavi AnsaraDr Gávi Ansara received the American Psychological Association’s 2012 Transgender Research Award for significant and original research and the UK Higher Education Academy’s 2011 National Psychology Postgraduate Teaching Award for excellence in teaching.

He is the Manager of Research & Policy at the National LGBTI Health Alliance, Australia’s peak body for the health and wellbeing of people of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex (LGBTI) experience and people with lived experiences of their genders, bodies, relationships, and sexualities beyond those letters. In this role, Dr Gávi provides advice at a national level to local and federal government, service providers, clinicians, researchers, and community organisations.

He is a periodic Visiting Professor at Warsaw International Studies in Psychology (WISP), a 5-year Master’s degree programme at the University of Warsaw, and a Work-Appointed Supervisor for counselling support staff.

Dr Gávi is an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, an Editorial Board member of Transgender Studies Quarterly, and a Consulting Editor for Developmental Psychology.
His professional backgrourend includes crisis intervention, support group facilitation, and casework with older people from migrant backgrounds. He was a lead author of Scottish guidelines on working with LGBTQI asylum-seekers and refugees. He has served on national Australian advisory groups in the ageing and aged care sector and advised government on LGBTI-inclusive implementation of the Gateway and Consumer-Directed Care. His undergraduate degree focused on cross-cultural and international health, media, and African studies. He holds a PhD in Psychology from the University of Surrey in England.

Prof Hazel Bateman, Head of Business School, University of NSW

Hazel BatemanHazel Bateman is a Professor of Economics and Head of the School of Risk and Actuarial Studies at the UNSW Australia and an Associate Investigator with CEPAR. Hazel has research interests in private and public provision for retirement and is the author of over 80 publications on aspects of the economics and finance of pensions. Her current research interests include retirement saving decision making, financial literacy, financial advice, information disclosure and the performance of super funds. Prior to joining the University of New South Wales, Hazel worked as an economist in Tax Policy Division in the Australian Treasury. Hazel has a Bachelor of Economics (Hons 1) from the University of Queensland, and a PhD from the University of New South Wales. Hazel has been a consultant on retirement income issues to a range of Australian and international organisations, most recently the China’s Social Insurance Administration and the Korean Institute for Social Affairs (KIHASA). In 2012-13 Hazel was a member of the Australian Government’s Superannuation Roundtable.

Dr Anthony Brown, Adjunct Fellow, Men’s Health and Information Resource Centre, University of Western Sydney

Anthony BrownAnthony has worked with older people and older people’s organisations for over 20 years, in both aged care and community settings. A career highlight being his role as the Project Manager for Coalition ’99 NSW coordinating the community’s response to 1999 the International Year of Older Persons.

In 2000 Anthony joined the Men’s Health Information and Resource Centre (MHIRC) at the University of Western Sydney and spent the next 14 years investigating and supporting men’s community participation and access to health and community services, with a particular focus on older men. His PhD was awarded last year and investigated the impact that community participation has on retired men’s health and wellbeing. Anthony remains an Adjunct Fellow at MHIRC.

Prof Julie Byles, Director, Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing, Newcastle University

Julie BylesJulie Byles is a Clinical Epidemiologist and a Gerontologist with research interests in the role of health services, preventive activities, and treatments in maintaining quality of life for older people; and in determining physical, psychological and social factors associated with optimal physical and mental health of men and women as they age. Her work has included health assessment, medications used by older people, sleep disturbance, health effects of alcohol, nutrition screening and interventions, health and retirement, and prevention of falls in residential care. Professor Byles is The Newcastle based Director of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, and she is also closely involved with the NSW 45 and Up Study.

Professor Byles is a Past President of the Australian Association of Gerontology (2011-2013). She also contributes to government and non-government programs relating to ageing research and health care for older persons, and has served as an advisor to the World Health Organisation on health and ageing.

Ara Cresswell, CEO Carers Australia

Ara CreswellMs Cresswell was appointed as the CEO of Carers Australia in September 2011 and has a lengthy history as an executive in the not-for-profit sector both at the local and national levels. Before joining Carers Australia Ms Cresswell headed up Reconciliation Australia, the ACT Council of Social Service and Homelessness Australia.

Formerly a nurse and Social Trainer, Ms Cresswell is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She says that in our lifetimes each of us is likely to either be or need a carer, so taking care of carers is really about taking care of our families, our friends and ourselves.

Carers Australia
Carers Australia is the national peak body representing Australia’s carers, advocating on behalf of Australia’s carers to influence policies and services at a national level. It works collaboratively with partners and its member organisations, the network of state and territory Carers Associations, to deliver a range of essential national carer services.

Helen Dalley-Fisher, Director, Equality Rights Alliance

Helen Dalley-FisherERA is one of six National Women’s Alliances, led by the YWCA Australia with funding from the Commonwealth Office for Women. Our 62 members are non-government organisations and social enterprises with a focus on the impact of policy or service delivery on women. ERA maintains a focus on gender equality, women’s leadership and women’s diversity, including bringing young women’s voices to policy and decision making. ERA adopts a human rights framework and advocates for adherence to international human rights principles.

Prior to her current position, Helen spent 12 years as a solicitor, initially in private practice, before moving to the community legal sector. She was Principal Solicitor of the NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre and Senior Solicitor at the ACT Welfare Rights and Legal Centre. Her areas of practice included disability discrimination law, tenancy law, employment law and social security law, working in both front line legal service provision and law reform advocacy. She also worked on the NSW Law Reform Commission’s report into the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 as a paralegal and represented the National Association of Community Legal Centres in negotiations regarding the drafting of the Disability Rights Convention at the United Nations in Bangkok and New York in 2003.

Cassandra Goldie, CEO, Australian Council of Social Service

Cassandra GoldieCassandra has been CEO since July 2010, with extensive public policy expertise in economic and social issues, civil society, social justice and human rights. She has represented the interests of people who are disadvantaged and civil society in major national and international processes including most recently through the G20 as Deputy Chair of the Civil Society20 and Chair of the Global Infrastructure Working Group (2014), as well as a member of the Prime Minister’s National Panel on Economic Reform (2013), the Ministerial Roundtable on Superannuation (2012/13) and the National Tax Forum (2011).

Cassandra has worked globally as a human rights advocate, including through the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and UN Habitat. Prior to joining ACOSS, she was Director of the Sex and Age Discrimination program at the Australian Human Rights Commission, where she played a central role in major gender equality reforms, including Australia’s first paid parental leave, reforms to sex discrimination and pay equity and ASX corporate governance standards. She also has grassroots legal practice experience both as a legal aid lawyer and as Director and Principal Solicitor of the Darwin Community Legal Service in the Northern Territory, which won the National Human Rights Award for Community Service during her leadership.
Cassandra has a PhD from the University of New South Wales and is an Associate of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law. She has a Masters of Law from University College London, where she was awarded the Cheng Cheng Nan Prize for Public International Law, and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Western Australia. She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Cassandra was recognised as one of the Inaugural Westpac/Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence in 2012. She was selected as an AFR/BOSS True Leader in 2013 and voted one of the Impact 25 Most Influential People in the Social Economy in 2014.

Sandra Hills, CEO Benetas

Sandra HillsBenetas is one of the leading not-for-profit providers to older Australians of residential care, in-home care, respite care, housing services and retirement living in Victoria. Sandra Hills joined Benetas in 2009 with career experience in local and state government and the not for profit sector and has qualifications spanning: nursing, psychology, research and business management. Under Sandra’s leadership, Benetas has diversified its services to meet new and future demand with a specific focus on innovation, research, workforce development and sustainable fiscal growth.

In 2014, Benetas released its Strategic Plan: Towards 2019 which identifies its forward focus and growth pathways across aged and community care, health, social advocacy and retirement living options.

Benetas has developed a recognised contribution in the research and advocacy space and the future focus will be on translating research into practice. As a voice and advocate for older people, Sandra’s published works span topics including health, consumer competition, dignity in aged care, quality and best practice, and a future reform agenda.

Benetas has committed to expanding its role in aged and community care and continues to influence debate and discussion on key topics. Sandra continues to work in leadership roles within the community including as executive member of peak body group Leading Age Services Australia), Anglicare Australia, and National Aged Care Alliance.

Tina Karanastasis, Senior Deputy Chair Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia

Tina KaranastasisTina is the Senior Deputy Chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia. FECCA is the national peak body representing the voice and aspirations of Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, focusing particularly on those who experience significant barriers to access and participation. FECCA advises the Commonwealth Government on CALD ageing and aged care issues and auspices the Healthy Ageing Reference Committee which brings together key stakeholders across Australia to address policy directions in aged care and identify equity planning requirements for older people from CALD backgrounds and their carers.

Tina has been involved in the multicultural services sector for over 30 years and has particular expertise in Access and Equity reform. She has worked with all tiers of government as well as the non-government sector to further best practice in the planning and delivery of services and programs to CALD population groups, including older people and their carers. Tina currently holds the position of Senior Program Manager for Service Development with Ethnic Link Services within Uniting Care Wesley Port Adelaide. Ethnic Link Services is a leading provider of specialist services to older people from CALD backgrounds and their carers in South Australia, providing a ‘cultural bridge’ for those who speak little or no English and require assistance in navigating aged care and other essential services.

Dr Maree Petersen, Institute of Social Science Research, University of Queensland

Maree PetersenMaree was appointed as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Ageing Policy at the Institute of Social Science Research, University of Queensland in January 2011. Her research focus centres on older people’s living environments, with attention to disadvantage.

She has completed a number of projects on older people’s homelessness: a national study on homelessness amongst older Australians funded by AHURI; a study on the pathways out of homelessness for older women for the Mercy Foundation and a large research project for the then Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs centred on policy around on older people’s homelessness.

Maree also has projects concerned with service provision for rural older people in Queensland and Victoria, and a study on the financial and contractual obligations of retirement village living and the evaluation of Brisbane Common Ground. She is a member of the Australian Association of Gerontology and Australian Sociological Association.

Adrian Pisarski, Executive Officer National Shelter

Adrian PisarskiAdrian Pisarski has a 35 year history in the community sector including roles with housing, homelessness, welfare and youth peak bodies in Tasmania, Victoria, NSW, Queensland and nationally.

He was the Executive Officer of Queensland Shelter between 2002 and 2013, the Chairperson of National Shelter between 2004 and 2013 and is currently the Executive Officer of National Shelter. He served on the Board of the Australian Council of Social Service between 2007 and 2013 and was vice president for five years.

Adrian was a member of the Affordable Housing Summit Group, instrumental to the development of the National Affordable Housing Agreement and National Rental Affordability Scheme. He has served on numerous advisory bodies for housing, homelessness and youth affairs.

Cate Wood, Chair Care Super and National Chair Women in Super

Cate WoodCate is National Chair of Women in Super, Chair of CareSuper, a member of the ACT Treasury Investment Advisory Board and a director of Industry Super Property Trust (ISPT), The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST), Industry Super Australia and the Mother’s Day Classic Foundation. She was formerly CEO of AGEST Super, CEO of the Trade Union Training Authority and Assistant Secretary of the Australian Services Union. Cate holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences from La Trobe University and is a Fellow of AIST.



Ian Yates AM, CE COTA Australia

Ian YatesIan Yates is Chief Executive of COTA Australia, the national peak body for COTAs (Councils on the Ageing) in each State and Territory of Australia. Ian has played national leadership roles in COTA since 2002. He serves on a wide variety of federal government and aged care sector national bodies including the Aged Care Financing Authority, the Aged Care Quality Council and the Aged Care Sector Committee, and the National Aged Care Alliance.

Ian is also a member of the ASIC Consumer Advisory Panel and a member of the Advisory Board of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research. His COTA roles include Chair of the Management Committee of the Australasian Journal on Ageing and a Director of COTA’s insurance and membership business arm. He is also a Board member of the Aged Rights Advocacy Service. Ian is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, an Honorary Doctor and Emeritus Deputy Chancellor of Flinders University and was awarded membership of the Order of Australia (AM) in June 2005.

Forum facilitator:

Peter Mares, Journalist and Social Commentator

Peter MaresPeter Mares is contributing editor with the online journal Inside Story, adjunct fellow at the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University and a moderator with the Cranlana Programme. Peter worked for twenty-five years as a broadcaster with the ABC and then as a Fellow researching urban policy issues with the Grattan Institute Cities Program. Throughout his career Peter has combined journalism with public policy research, particularly on topics related to migration. He is the author of Borderline (UNSW Press 2001 & 2002), an award-winning book analysing Australia’s approach to refugees and asylum seekers.


9.00WELCOME: Peter Mares – Forum Facilitator
9.05WELCOME TO COUNTRY: Agnes Shea – Ngunnawal Elder
9.15INTRODUCTION TO THE FORUM: Ian Yates AM Chief Executive COTA Australia
9:25KEYNOTE: Working on – workforce participation for our ageing population
Renée Leon PSM, Secretary, Department of Employment
Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission
10.10FACILITATED SESSION: What are the priority ageing and gender questions that the Forum needs to address?
Peter Mares – Forum Facilitator
10.25Morning tea
10.45PANEL: Richer or poorer – gender, income and wealth
• Professor Hazel Bateman, Head of Business School, University of NSW
Download presentation (pdfpowerpoint)
• Dr Cassandra Goldie, Chief Executive Officer Australian Council of Social Service
• Cate Wood, National Chair, Women in Super
1.30PANEL: A roof over our heads – gender, housing and homelessness
• Helen Dalley-Fisher, Director, Equality Rights Alliance
• Dr Maree Petersen, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Ageing Policy – Institute of Social Science Research, University of Queensland
• Adrian Pisarski, Executive Officer, National Shelter
2.30PANEL: Who cares? – gender and the giving and receiving of care
• Ara Cresswell, Chief Executive Officer, Carers Australia
• Sandra Hills, Chief Executive Officer, Benetas
• Tina Karanastasis, Senior Deputy Chair, Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia
3.30Afternoon tea
3.45PANEL: A quality life – gender, health and wellbeing
• Dr Gávi Ansara, Manager Research and Policy, National LGBTI Health Alliance
Download presentation (pdfpowerpoint)
• Dr Anthony Brown, Adjunct Fellow, Men’s Health and Information Resource Centre, University of Western Sydney
Download presentation (pdfpowerpoint)
• Professor Julie Byles, Director, Centre for Gender Health and Ageing, Newcastle University
Download presentation (pdfpowerpoint)
4.45FORUM WIND-UP: Peter Mares – Forum Facilitator
4.55CONCLUDING REMARKS: Ian Yates AM, Chief Executive COTA Australia


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