SA Policy Council
Policy Council

Policy Council

The COTA SA Policy Council is the key public policy-making committee of the Board of COTA SA.

Our members provide expertise and advice on issues of ageing to advance the rights, needs and interests of older people. This advice informs policy development within COTA SA - as well as influencing the national agenda through input into the work of COTA Australia.

Among other activities, the policy council contributes to COTA SA's work in:

  • identifying issues for policy focus and research
  • advocating for policy reforms and outcomes
  • influencing decision-makers in the government and in the community and business sectors.

Our aim is for the council to be as reflective of the diversity of older South Australians as possible. In this way, we can best represent the interests of all older people.

If you are interested in joining the council, please contact us on cotasa@cotasa.org.au.

For detailed information please see the policy council's Terms of Reference.

Current Members of the Policy Council are:


akhter rahmanAkhter Rahman

Akhter is a semi-retired practising clinical psychologist who spent over thirty years working in child protection for the Department of Human Services in SA and now works part time at a clinical practice in Norwood. She has strong interest and involvement in the arts, particularly music from her native Bangladesh and the Western tradition of jazz, folk and ballads. She is an experienced broadcaster and performer at multicultural festivals. She has been a Board member of the Multicultural Arts Commission of SA and a member of the Multicultural Performing Arts Board of the SA Department of the Arts. She has been a volunteer with Meals on Wheels since 2014 and of the Zonta Club of Adelaide since 2013.

Alison Bowden Alison Bowden

Now retired, Alison has a history working with and advocating for older, frailer and more vulnerable or disadvantaged members living in our community. Her skills, knowledge and experience have been developed working in both the Not for Profit and Local Government sectors through Administration, Management and Project Leadership roles across diverse and challenging areas. She has particularly enjoyed contributing to discussions and planning regarding the direction and pathways for future care, services and funding models as well as having the opportunity to provide feedback to policies and systems developed to support new directions which affect older people.

Her priority has always been to support people as they age to ensure they have the opportunities, skill set and confidence to continue living their life in the way that they choose. Alison's focus is capacity building strategies and supports for the individual as well as a community development approach to any perceived or actual barriers that prevent older people living their optimal life. Her experience with funding models and contract management, as well as partnering with other organisations to achieve optimal outcomes for the community support the advantages of working collaboratively.

On a personal level Alison has experienced the highs and lows and challenges of supporting close family members through their own journeys as they age which has given her perspective from both sides, challenging her thoughts in some area and supporting others.

Anne Burgess Anne Burgess AM (Chair)

Anne was appointed to the Board in November 2013 and is Chair of the SA Policy Council. She brings to the Board extensive experience from her career as a senior public sector bureaucrat in SA which culminated in her two year term as Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity from June 2010 to July 2012. She has a strong background in equal opportunity, planning, strategy and problem solving from her years at senior levels within the areas of health, mental health and the equal opportunity arena. Anne also has experience in the not for profit sector, including as Chairperson of the Board of the Aged Rights Advocacy Service (ARAS), Board member of the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) and a member of the National Aged Care Alliance.  Anne holds a number of other positions in this state and nationally including member of the Chiropractic Board of Australia.

Barry ApseyBarry Apsey

Barry has an extensive record as a senior administrator and chief executive in the fields of justice and correctional services, emergency services, occupational health and safety, and corporate services reform. In recent years he has consulted on capacity building and strategic planning in the Pacific. Barry's positions have included managing correctional systems in Victoria and South Australia and as Director General of the Corrective Services Commission in Queensland, Chief Executive of Emergency Services in South Australia, and Commissioner of the Solomon Islands Correctional Service. He joined the policy council in 2013.

Dianne StewartDianne Stewart

Following a variety of roles in commercial and HR management, Dianne retired from the paid workforce to care for her husband after he suffered a stroke in 2001. Since then she has been actively involved with the National Stroke Foundation, Alzheimer Australia's Consumer Dementia Research Network, as a consumer representative with ECH's Consumer Reference Group and Resthaven's Community Advisory Group. In 2018 she was appointed to the Commonwealth Health Department Sub-group of Mental Health and Aged Care stakeholders. Dianne joined the Board of the Carer Support & Respite Centre in 2008. She was elected Chair of CSRC in 2012. Dianne is a passionate advocate for the recognition and advancement of family caregivers. She joined the COTA SA Policy Council in 2014 and has served as a member of COTA Australia's Innovations Projects Co-production group.

donna bainbridgeDonna Bainbridge

Donna’s passion is for older people to be listen to and treated with respect.

Donna Bainbridge, for the past 25 years her career has been working within aged care. Donna’s first work involved Commonwealth Aged Care packages in the northern suburbs. This was followed by positions that involved coordinating volunteers and delivering lifestyle and dementia programs in various residential aged care facilities. These positions also provided education and support of the family members of the residents living in the facilities.

As a mature student Donna completed a Bachelor of Social Worker at the University of South Australia in 2015. After gaining her tertiary qualification Donna worked as a Social Worker in the geriatric subacute field at both the Lyell McEwin and Modbury Hospitals.

In this role Donna provided support to patients and families to help them understand the different service pathways from the hospital to respite and care facilities. To deliver outcomes for the patients and families Donna worked within a multidisciplinary system.

Donna has worked with COTA and the LGBTI Silver Rainbow to advocate for the rights of older people who need service in the hospital. This also included contributing to educations sessions and conferences.

elaine delgadeo policy council memberElaine Delgado

Elaine Delgado has had experience over 30 years in the not-for-profit and local government sectors. With ‘community wellbeing' as the central focus, her career has been extensive in the areas of health, fitness and volunteer programs for older adults, public health planning, open space and streetscape planning and design, urban planning policy, social policy, and strategy. Elaine has held leadership roles in community engagement, project and program management, policy development and strategic planning.

Since retiring from paid employment in 2020 Elaine is supporting COTA SA's Strength for Life and Social Connections Programs, and is active as an ‘influencer' in The Plug In.

Elaine is passionate about the role of policy as a foundation to achieve positive outcomes for older people, particularly in areas relating to health and wellbeing, and housing

Picture of Elizabeth GrahamElizabeth Graham

Liz’s experience for 50 years is in the hospitality and retail industries; focussing on customer relations.   Within the community her skills are in operational support roles; e.g. fundraising at community fetes for towns’ projects.  Within the CFS - catering, family support, committee member and improved womens’ roles in the organisation.  During major bushfires overseeing the logistics of maintaining the food supply to the fire fighters.

On moving to Hindmarsh Island Liz pursued her love for steam trains as a Passenger Attendant on the SteamRanger.  After retiring Liz has volunteered with Alexandrina Council, providing gardening, shopping and bus trips for aged persons

Liz is a team member of the Goolwa and Victor Advisory Group for COTA.  With the support of COTA in regional South Australia, Liz is passionate about connecting the Fleurieu community to give them a voice!

Heather SuttonHeather Sutton

Heather Sutton, before retiring, was a registered nurse & midwife for over 50 years. She trained at the Royal Adelaide Hospital commencing in 1958, then onto Sydney at King George V. She spent the last 20 years of her working life at Flinders University as an academic. Health care & its provision for the older person is continuously changing & she believes those changes must be appropriate & meet the needs of the older person. She is looking forward to working on the SA Policy Council to help see that their needs are met.

Jennifer HughesJennifer Hughes

Jenny Hughes is the Chief Executive of Catalyst Foundation and has over 30 years of executive and governance experience in the private, local and state governments and not-for-profit sector in the area of social planning, community engagement, policy and infrastructure development and management.

Jenny has worked in State and Local Governments in South Australia and the Northern Territory in leadership roles across a range of services. Jenny has significant experience and a successful track record in policy development, community consultation and engagement and the development and implementation of new services and programs. Jenny has held Board positions in the health and environmental sectors and is currently sitting on a number of committees for State and non-government agencies.

Jenny has a passion and interest in community well-being and services for rural and regional communities.

Laurie Lewis

Bio to follow

Marilyn von Thien, Policy Council MemberMarilyn von Thien

Prior to her retirement 4 years ago, Marilyn had worked in aged care for 30 years primarily in community aged care. She held various management roles and lead teams through many service model trials and periods of transitioning, including Consumer Directed Care both in metropolitan and country areas. Marilyn has also had experience managing a facility for indigenous elders and was a member of the Multicultural Aged Care Board for 4 years.

Marilyn keeps up to date with the latest trends in Aged Care presenting COTA's Peer Education Sessions related to ‘My Aged Care'. She is also a volunteer for COTA's Access and Information and Social Outreach programs and has registered with the Plug In as an influencer.

Currently, Marilyn is a member of the Campbelltown Council Active Ageing Advisory Committee and has recently been appointed as an associate investigator of the Register of Senior Australians (ROSA) primary care research project at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and is a consumer representative on the ROSA Executive Committee.


Marjorie Schulze OAM Marjorie Schulze OAM

Marjorie Schulze is a former Pharmacist with tertiary qualifications in Public Policy and Management. She has considerable experience in governance in the NFP sector specifically in Disability, Private Health and Aged Care. She has particular interest in opportunities for the consumer voice as an influencer of public policy.


Mike RungieMike Rungie

Dr Mike Rungie has specialised in understanding how people live well in their 70s, 80s, 90s, undertaking a variety of studies, research projects and service trials (including as a Visiting Scholar with Prof Wolf Wolfensberger, and a Churchill Fellowship).

He has led ACH Group in trialling Service Models that enable older people to not only receive high quality care, but in a way that enables high quality life (including ViTA - a teaching, re-enablement service for older people). Dr Rungie currently works with a number of organisations and networks developing scalable strategies that have citizenship and productivity for older people at the centre of what they do.

Current Boards/Committees:

  • Global Centre for Modern Ageing...director (2018-)
  • Aged Care Financing Authority...member(2016-)
  • Dunstan Foundation social capital partners group...member ( 2017-)
  • Everyage Counts coalition steering group ( auspiced by Benevolent Society)...member (2017-)
  • SAHMRI wellbeing and resilience strategic advisory board ...member( 2015-)
  • SAHMRI external stakeholder reference group...member (2014-)
  • COTA SA policy council...member (2014-)
  • Global Access Partners Standing Committee on Productive Ageing ...member (2018-)
  • Australian Aged Care Quality Agency quality and innovation awards panel...member (2017-)
  • Longevity 4.0... lead (2018-)

Image of Policy Council Member Miriam Cocking

Miriam L.T. Cocking

Miriam arrived in Australia over 40 years ago as a migrant with a bi-cultural, bilingual background with strong passion and commitment to community empowerment and wellbeing. Her passion led her to volunteering opportunities and community leadership roles which span for almost 40 years in areas of settlement, education, health and ageing, employment and domestic violence.

Miriam is the current Chairperson of the Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia, the peak multicultural agency in South Australia, advocating, supporting and ensuring that all people from culturally diverse communities have an active voice thus become positive and productive citizens of Multicultural South Australia. Miriam has been involved with the Council for over 30 years, leading various committees such as Skills and Qualification recognition, Women's Leadership and Health and Ageing. Her tertiary education includes Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master in Public Education and Administration. Her professional career includes teaching, business, project and case management and community education.

pam pricePam Price

For the past 42 years Pam’s career (both in paid and unpaid capacity) has been in the areas of women’s health, sexual health, lesbian health and advocacy, gender based violence and gender equity. She worked at Women’s Health Statewide for 30 years and fulfilled many diverse roles. Pam spent two years working as a Community Development & Gender Advisor–with the Vietnam Women’s Union as an Australian volunteer for International development in Vietnam. Her team developed training programs to respond on all levels to gender based violence.

Since returning to Australia in 2017, Pam has continued to work as a training consultant with the Gender Consortium (Flinders University). She has provided training in Australia and in Vietnam in the areas of leadership, gender based violence issues, developing, communication strategies, monitoring and evaluation and action project development. Her understanding of the complex issues faced by the LGBTI community is informed by her lived experience and personal connections with members of that community as well as her volunteer and paid work experience. In 2017-19 Pam has been an active member of the advisory committee of the COTA/SARA LGBTI Aging Well project and a team member of the LGBTI connect project at ECH who is a key aged care provider in SA

Peter CroftPeter Croft

Peter has an extensive background working in the South Australian Public Sector in environment policy and information technology over a career of 39 years. He was a member of the Oxfam Australia Board and its Risk and Finance committee for ten years, and the Chair of Oxfam Australia Trading for 6 years.

He has a particular interest in climate change mitigation and adaptation and the urgent nature of this work. This includes helping the community to grow more of its own food as a form of food security, and protecting and extending our tree canopy as a way of adapting to a much hotter climate.

Peter SmithPeter Smith

Dr Peter Smith has substantial experience working as a teacher and university academic in Africa and Papua New Guinea.

He has been a senior manager and director in TAFE in Western Australia and executive director of non-profit training and employment Organisations in South Australia.
He is particularly interested in issues affecting employment policies and volunteering opportunities for older people.

Reeva Brice

Reeva Brice

Reeva became a member of the Policy Council in November 2013 and since 2008
has been a volunteer for the Strength For Life Program conducting site checks.

She has a background of over 40 years of experience in the natural therapies
industry as a Yoga Instructor, Remedial Massage Therapist, trainer/lecturer, owner
and Principal of a Massage Training School (retired 2008). Through her clinical
practice and conducting workshops with many organizations such as Parkinson's SA Inc. The Brain Injury Network, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Reeva has learned of the many difficulties people of all ages face in their daily lives and is keen to help and improve their quality of life particularly safe, affordable housing.

Over the years Reeva has served on many committees including the South Australian Massage Therapists Association (SAMTA), President 1998-02, Federation of Natural and Traditional Therapists Ltd as a Director and representative for SAMTA 1998-02, Northern Adelaide Business Enterprise Centre 1998-2004, Executive and Board member.  Since 2015 she has been COTA SA's representative on the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group and in 2016 became a member of the Active Ageing Advisory Committee, Campbelltown City Council.  She is an influencer of modern ageing via the Plug-in.


Sophia MatiaszSophia Matiasz

Sophia was elected to the Board in November 2011. She brings high level experience in government, consumer and business affairs from her previous work for the Commissioner and Minister for Consumer Affairs. Her work included promotion of law reform, legislative review and innovative regulatory arrangements to foster a cooperative approach by all parties to the resolution of consumer and business issues.


Sophia MatiaszStephen Merrett

Stephen has worked as an RN in the areas of aged care and mental health across inpatient, community and residential care settings. Achievements have included developing a visiting and remote consultation liaison service across country SA and the use of videoconferencing technology to provide consumer assessments and support for care staff in both the government and private sectors.

In his later working years, Stephen made the change to working with eLearning platforms and website management, gaining an appreciation of the importance of accessible learning opportunities, for a wide and increasing audience.

Vivienne LambertVivienne Lambert

As a communications and stakeholder engagement specialist Vivienne's extensive experience includes executive and operational positions with global resource corporations, local and State governments, media, education, planning and development, not-for-profits and grass-roots community organisations. She draws on her Master degree in Business Leadership and company director studies, and experience as a member of boards and committees to contribute strategically and innovatively.

Vivienne worked around Australia for over 30 years before returning to her home state of South Australia and then basing her consultancy on Yorke Peninsula. Throughout her working life, Vivienne has supported regional and metropolitan communities and ensured people can be actively involved in issues that matter to them.

Vivienne is Chair of the Yorke Peninsula Group of COTA SA.

Vivienne's interest in ageing well was sparked by managing advocacy and rights for her parents through the aged care system, and seeking to influence what the future holds for her generation. She sees the work of COTA in Australia and SA as critical to ensuring older people have a voice in policy, access and decision-making across all aspects of services and community-life.

Vivienne SmithVivienne Smith

Vivienne was appointed to the policy council in 2014. Her work life included roles as a TAFE instructor, a Training Officer and a Welfare Officer and a small business owner. She spent 25 years working for ETSA and subsequently became the Executive Officer for the Australian Retired Persons Association (ARPA) which gave her experience in managing volunteers and involvement in activities targeted for older people. Her later career was as a florist with her own small business. Since retirement her volunteer roles have included as a volunteer counsellor for Lifeline and a First Aid trainer for St John Ambulance and the Red Cross.