In carrying out its role the Policy Advisory Committee will:

  • Identify state and national issues for policy focus and determine priorities for policy responses.
  • Develop and implement effective ways of engaging a wide range of older people (including individual and organisational members) in the policy work.
  • Determine policies based on analysis of input from older people, research and dialogue, and in accordance with the mission and policy principles.
  • Develop strategies for developing and advancing COTA policy agendas.
  • Work in collaboration with COTA Australia on national policy issues.
  • Represent and advocate policy, and provide leadership and expertise on ageing issues, to decision makers and centres of influence, and to the community generally.
  • Conduct an annual conference as a focal point for engaging members and other stakeholders in advancing COTA policy agendas.
  • Maintain a register of policy positions adopted by COTA

We have opportunities to get involved in specific policy projects and campaigns – just get in touch and get involved: help COTA influence decision makers to improve outcomes for older Victorians! Please contact Donna Swan on 9655 2153 or email


Cathy Mead is chair of the Policy Advisory Committee and has been President of the Board since 2014. She has been involved with COTA since 2012. Cathy has a medical degree from the University of Sydney and post graduate qualifications in public health. She worked as a Commonwealth public servant for more than 20 years in health policy, health promotion and international health. After coming to Melbourne in 2000, she was involved in coordinating public health policy across the Commonwealth and state governments and taught health policy at Latrobe University in the Masters of Public Health program.

Robert (Bob) Barron has been a volunteer with COTA since 1997 and has served on the Board since 2006. He chaired the Policy Advisory Committee from 2009-2013. After graduating with a Master of Science from the University of New Zealand in 1956, Bob worked first as a mine geologist for Mount Morgan Limited and from 1963 to1991 he worked for the Country Roads Board, later VicRoads, in various management positions. He is an Honorary Life Member of the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia where he has held the positions of President, General Secretary and Treasurer. For ten years Bob was an area manager for Neighbourhood Watch, editor of the Victorian Daffodil Society Newsletter and assistant editor of the Field Naturalist Club of Victoria newsletter.

Peter Willcocks joined the Policy Advisory Committee in early 2015. Peter was an operations manager in the book trade. His extensive volunteering began as a driver/visitor in aged care under the guidance of his mother, a Red Cross coordinator in the late 1960s. He has been a volunteer/committee/board member for Polio Network Victoria, Polio Australia and Co-Convenor of the Bayside Polio Group. He is a consumer representative on the Clinical Leadership Group on Care of Older People in Hospital. Peter is interested in assistive technology, social inclusion and human rights.

Marion Lau has been a volunteer with COTA for over ten years. Marion’s background is as a management consultant where she focused on aged care, cross cultural/multicultural issues and small business. Marion has held a number of key voluntary positions: Deputy Chairperson of the Ethnic Communities Council, Director of Doutta Galla Aged Care Services, a member of the Royal Children’s Bioethics Development Board, an Australia Day Ambassador and a Community Representative Commissioner on Victoria’s Multicultural Commission. Marion’s interests are social justice, age and gender discrimination and a she has special passion for the health and welfare of older non English speaking Australians.

Sheryl McHugh joined the Policy Advisory Committee in 2013 and has had over 40 years experience both inside and outside the public sector. In Melbourne Sheryl worked for a number of Government departments including the Department of Health and in the mid 1990s moved to Central Gippsland Health Service followed by ten years working with rural communities on improving transport with the Transport Connections Program. Sheryl currently works with Wellington Shire Council in Gippsland in the Emergency Management Team responsible for the Municipal Heatwave Plan in addition to being the custodian of the register of vulnerable people in the municipality. She also is a mentor driver supporting disadvantaged youth attaining their 120 hours of driving practice.

Sally Stabback has been a volunteer and a member of the Policy Advisory Committee for four years. Sally worked as a senior nurse and manager in the Victorian public health system for 45 years including the aged care system. Sally has a strong commitment to social justice issues and is particularly concerned with the cost of living pressures on people who rely on the aged pension and the housing needs of older people. She is also concerned with the lack of services in rural areas especially health and transport. Sally is an active member of the Positive Ageing Committee in Macedon Ranges Shire. Sally is also active on the Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG).

David Brant has been a disability project manager and a political lobbyist and consultant in social equity logistics. He has served as Executive Director of the Victorian Universal Housing Alliance and for seven years a director of the Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) and currently a member of their board. He is Executive Director of the Victorian Universal Housing Alliance and Convener of the Australian Network for Universal Housing Design. his passion is affordable and appropriate housing for older people in poverty.

Randal Harkin represents Policy Advisory Committee on a number of energy related groups including the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria. Randal has a marketing background with expertise in business, project management, finance and policy development. He is a representative to the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association. His key interest is in forming strategic partnerships and alliances and is keenly concerned with transport and issues around dying with dignity.

Patrick Moore has been a volunteer with COTA for many years and a peer educator in the Challenging Ageing and the Transitions through Retirement programs and a founding member of the OMNI group. Patrick brings a wide experience in the manufacturing industry holding positions in occupational health and safety and industrial relations. He is a founder member and President of the Macular Vision Loss Support Society and a member of the Charles Bonet Syndrome Foundation. Patrick is passionately interested in social justice issues.

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