Pat Sparrow replaces Ian Yates at COTA

Patricia Sparrow

COTA Australia, the peak body for older Australians, has announced the appointment of Patricia Sparrow as its next Chief Executive commencing December 2022.

Ms Sparrow had previously worked for COTA between 2011 – 2014 in a Director capacity with responsibility for Aged Care Reform, before taking on the top job at the peak body for non-profit aged care providers, Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), where she was a strong voice for the sector.

Ian Yates AM, D Univ (Flinders) steps down after having held 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 the 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.”

Ms 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 underestimated.

“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.”


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