New National Seniors Australia CEO eyes off stronger Govt influence

Last updated on 30 November 2023

Chris Grice has just been named CEO of National Seniors Australia. [Source: Supplied]

National Seniors Australia has appointed a new Chief Executive Officer with its Chief Operating Officer, Chris Grice, moving into the position less than a year after he was appointed COO.

Mr Grice has been with National Seniors Australia (NSA) for 12 years and is an experienced hand with the day-to-day operations of the organisation, including membership, commercial and business operations. His appointment comes ten months after Professor John McCallum retired following his five-year stint at the top. 

The announcement of Mr Grice as CEO is a timely one as NSA moves into a new strategic direction; a direction that includes building stronger relationships with governments and industry partners. This could see the organisation grow as a playmaker, providing more influence and sway for the people it represents. 

Speaking to hello leaders, Mr Grice said it’s essential for NSA to be a strong voice in aged care reform so older Australians are always the focal point of any decision.  

“There is a responsibility from the custodian of the organisation to maintain vigilance and continue to make sure significant changes being made in aged care are not watered down,” Mr Grice explained.

“We have a role to keep the Government and the entire Parliament accountable and responsible for aged care going forward. There has to be universal support so that whoever is in power is managing aged care effectively.”

“As the leader of this organisation, there is a responsibility to make sure we’re working to maintain a high care standard and key individuals understand we’re dealing with people. This isn’t just moving money around; we’re dealing with lives and emotions so keeping care at the centre of it is important,” he added.

Mr Grice told hello leaders that he takes inspiration from NSA founder, Everald Compton, and wants to ensure the same motives from 1976 influence the organisation today while maintaining relevance with current issues, challenges and opportunities addressing older Australians.

Stronger partnerships in aged care

By building stronger relationships with State, Territory and Federal governments, representative bodies and industry leaders, NSA is embedding itself in an even more prominent position to support its members and older Australians. The previously announced departure of Chief Advocate Ian Henschke also reflects the organisation’s strategic switch from media relations to government relations.

“Our advocacy has always been consumer-led and it focused very much on engaging through the media. We’ll continue to maintain a strong media profile but we have to balance that with good relationships with parliament. We need to get good policies in place across parliament because that leads to better outcomes for older Australians,” Mr Grice said.

Collaboration and partnerships with aged care providers and relevant peak bodies are also likely, including maintaining existing relations with the likes of OPAN (Older Persons Advocacy Network) and COTA (Council on the Ageing) Australia. 

Mr Grice said this is partly motivated by findings from the 2023 Intergenerational Report which outlined the ageing population, adoption of new technologies and a growing demand for care and support services as major issues.

“As a leader of an organisation, you have to ask where do we put our priorities, where do we put our resources and where are the things that we need to get involved in,” he said.

“Alliances and partnerships are critical because whilst independently we have a strong voice, if you can align with another organisation that may do something similar your message is likely to resonate so much more. We will be more overtly working with other organisations because they have strengths and we have ours which will help to create more effective collaboration and outcomes for the consumers we represent.”

This elevation of alliances, partnerships and collaboration fits in with Mr Grice’s overall leadership approach. He was quick to add that NSA’s success and influence do not rest on a single pair of shoulders. While the CEO may be the driving force, teamwork is crucial.

“These things happen because of teams. They’re writing the submissions, reviewing government papers, supporting members… they’re doing the grunt work which is providing better aged care outcomes. I’m part of that process but there’s a team of people that work alongside me to make this happen,” he added.

aged care
chief executive officer
democratic leadership
national seniors australia
chris grice
political influence