Sue Hendy will be leaving COTA Victoria on March 16 after almost 20 years to take up a position with the YMCA. For her colleagues at the state, national and international level it will be a sad day. Her contribution has been enormous.
Sue has worked in the area of ageing for nearly 40 years so has an extraordinary understanding of the issues facing older people. Her journey began as a ward assistant in a large geriatric centre (as it was called back then) where she washed floors and people and was responsible for medication and much more. Sue worked her way through large hospitals, residential care, local and state governments to arrive at COTA as an Education Officer in 1997 and to go on to be the longest serving CEO in COTA Victoria’s 65 year history.
“I was fortunate to meet many amazing older people who have shared their lives, happiness and sorrows. They taught me all I needed to know to be an advocate and also the importance of protecting the human rights of older people which over the years has been my main passion,” Sue reflected.
Sue Hendy’s major contribution has been her advocacy for the rights of older people at a time when ageism is becoming more widespread. More than anyone else, she has been the key spokesperson for those older people who society has marginalised, discriminated against or forgotten. “There is still widespread discrimination against older women in employment, income security and housing and we must tackle this,” Sue says.
Her sense of social justice has compelled her to work urgently to combat ageism which Sue believes has become endemic in our society despite the ageing of the population.
“This issue of how we plan for an ageing society and enable people to participate fully, must be a top priority for our politicians, policy makers and civil society organisations – in fact all of us,” Sue said.
“I believe strongly in the great work COTA does, whether it is in advocacy to government, information to older people or raising community awareness about ageism and ageing,” Sue Hendy said.
On the International level her work has been tireless and she has been the chair of the Global Alliance on the Rights of Older people in Australia and attended the UN working group advocating for a charter on the rights of older people. Sue organised the 10th Global Conference of the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) in Melbourne in May 2010 and joined the IFA Board after the conference. In 2013, Sue was elected Vice President of the IFA.
Sue’s tireless advocacy on behalf of older Australians will be missed by the entire COTA family and the many community organisations who work with COTA.