Looking back at my first month as CEO of COTA Victoria, I can’t help but be somewhat overwhelmed by the incredible staff and volunteers that make up this leading not-for-profit organisation representing the interests and rights of people aged 50+ in Victoria.
I don’t believe that I’ve witnessed this level of dedication, hard work, knowledge and commitment by staff and volunteers in any senior leadership role I’ve had to date. We have staff that have been with us for 20 years, and many volunteers who aren’t that far behind, many with over 15 years of unselfishly working with us and serving the people who need it most in our community. Our staff and volunteers go far above and beyond what’s expected of them in a number of ways.
COTA Victoria will be running approximately 27 programs throughout 2022 and 2023. Programs that play a critically important role in serving and protecting vulnerable older Victorians.
One example of the vital programs COTA Victoria runs is Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV). Seniors Rights Victoria advances the rights of older people and works to prevent elder abuse by advocating for policy changes and law reform. This involves making submissions to government inquiries and Royal Commissions, promoting our policy positions through discussion papers, and conducting and taking part in research to better understand the contexts in which elder abuse occurs. Seniors Rights Victoria advocacy work and submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence was integral to elder abuse being recognised as a form of family violence. As the government continues its reform agenda, we continue to provide guidance and advice on ensuring older people are well-served by the family violence system.
I’ve commenced my journey with COTA Victoria with passion, dedication, structure and a clear understanding of the importance and relevance of my role as CEO. I also understand what’s required of me to provide my staff, volunteers and the community with the vision and change that’s expected to ensure our long-term sustainability is first and foremost in my mind.
COTA Victoria has strong relationships and working group partnerships with many like-minded, leading organisations in relation work undertaken in a similar space. Organisations and people such as COTA Australia and the other federated COTA state entities, the inspirational Gerard Mansour, the Commissioner for Senior Victorians, Louisa Gibbs from the Federation of Community Legal Centres, the Domestic Violence Leadership Circle and many others.
My Policy and Advocacy team and I have been working very closely in the lead up to the 2022 state election to brief the Minister for Child Protection and Family Services, and Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, the Hon Colin Brooks MP (and other MP’s) on the urgent priorities and policy matters that will address the needs of older Victorians at the 2022 State Election.
I look forward to what the future holds for COTA Victoria and encourage you all to continue to support this wonderful organisation, its people and the older Victorians we serve.