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New ‘Council of Elders’ to champion concerns of older Australians

Fourteen eminent Australians – including National Seniors Australia CEO John McCallum – have been appointed to the inaugural aged care Council of Elders, to ensure your voice is heard by government.

Key points

  • New Council of Elders will provide guidance to the government on aspects of aged care and ageing.  
  • Fourteen members were appointed to the Council, including National Seniors Australia CEO, Professor John McCallum.  
  • Learn more about the Council of Elders on the Department of Health website.

Older Australians will now have a strong, formal voice to government on aged care matters with the establishment of a new Council of Elders. This new governance arrangement was one of the key recommendations emerging from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The Council of Elders will provide guidance to the government on many aspects of aged care and ageing generally, but focus in particular on the quality and safety of care, and the rights and dignity of older Australians.

Fourteen members were appointed to the Council on 24 December, including National Seniors Australia CEO, John McCallum. Professor McCallum joins 2021 Senior Australian of the Year Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM, dementia advocate Gwenda Darling, writer and carer Danijela Hlis, Age Discrimination Commissioner Kay Patterson AO, indigenous campaigner Professor Tom Calma AO and Council Chair Ian Yates AM.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said Council members were selected based on their strong expertise, diverse backgrounds, and lived experience to help ensure aged care meets the needs and expectations of senior Australians, their families and carers, and the Australian community.

“Council members, all appointed for two-year terms, will provide advice to government, coordinate feedback from senior Australians and their families and communities, and help to build community awareness of ageing and aged care matters,” Minister Hunt said.

Professor John McCallum said the creation of the council was a positive development for seniors across Australia.

“There have been many committees established to implement Royal Commission recommendations, but this Council was without a doubt the most innovative and controversial. It has the chance to be broader in its scope (than the other committees) and bring fresh ideas into play.”

Professor McCallum said making sure the collective voices of National Seniors Australia members and senior Australians is his top priority as a member of the Council.

“This Council follows in the footsteps of many successful Councils of Elders internationally and in our indigenous communities. National Seniors’ representation on this Council will allow us to bring the voices of our large membership base and followers directly to the attention of government. I’m listed on the Council as an ‘activist’ and intend to be one!”

Members of the Council of Elders



Mr Ian Yates, AM


Professor John McCallum

Council member

Dr Michael Barbato, OAM

Council member

Professor Tom Calma, AO

Council member

Ms Gwenda Darling

Council member

Ms Val Fell

Council member

Ms Gillian Groom, AO

Council member

Ms Danijela Hlis

Council member

Mr Bill Jolley

Council member

Gill Lewin

Council member

Ms Sue McCann

Council member

Dr Kay Patterson, AO

Council member

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, AM

Council member

Ms Margaret Walsh, OAM

Council member

To learn more about the Council of Elders, visit the Department of Health website.

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