Home » Podcast » CEO of Maroba Aged Care, Viv Allanson is leading the way in staff training and care for her residents

CEO of Maroba Aged Care, Viv Allanson is leading the way in staff training and care for her residents


In this week’s episode, Josh is talking to Viv Allanson who was a Finalist in the 2020 NSW/ACT Regional Achievement & Community Awards.

Viv Allanson is a CEO who never accepts the status Quo, in fact  she has just been announced as the Australian – Game Changer of the Year  and Visionary CEO of the year in her role as CEO of Maroba. In that role, Maroba has continued to be on the front foot and is frequently recognised for its innovation within the Aged Care sector and across the Business Community. Viv is a leader who strives to bring others on the journey of growth and change always sharing generously her time and experience to support all who aspire to be a “Difference Maker”. The Registered Nurse in Viv never lays down and is always advocating for the profession and its advancement as an integral part of the Health Care team.

Viv has created a positive teaching Aged Care facility over 25 years which continues to provide exciting career opportunities for the young and more mature students and employees.


In this episode:

  • Everyone says that Viv wears her heart on a sleeve – this interview shows you just how true this is
  • We hear how the Government needs to hear a Viv Talk, as opposed to a Ted Talk to get real changes happening in the Aged Care sector!!


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Annette (00:04):

Welcome to the inspirational Australians podcast, where we chat to people, making a difference in their communities and in the lives of others. And here is your host for today, Josh Griffin.

Josh (00:20):

Thanks Annette. Now, before we get into this week’s episode with Viv Allenson, just to let everyone know that we’re actually going through a very exciting stage with the 7News Young Achiever Awards, finalists have been announced across all of our programs and you can check them out on our Facebook pages, 7News Young Achiever Awards, you’ll notice there’s one for each state and we’re coming up to our gala dinner presentation events. Now our team at award Australia are extremely excited to say the least to be holding events again in 2021, obviously, uh, last year that wasn’t possible. So event managers around the country are rejoicing. So check out who the finalists are. I’m sure you might know some of them and the people’s choice voting is live too, so you can get involved that way. All right now, onto the podcast, just to reminder, we are on Instagram at Inspirational.Australians, check out our page. We are featuring some snippets of, uh, the podcast episodes and some videos from our guests. It’s a great way for you to put a face to the name of who you’re listening to. Lastly, if you know of any inspirational Australians, let us know, email us info@awardsaustralia.com, onto this week’s dose of inspiration.

We’re talking to Viv Allenson, as I mentioned before, she’s a CEO who never accepts a status quo. In fact, she’d just been announced as the Australian game-changer of the year and visionary CEO of the year in her role as CEO of Maroba. In that role, Maroba has continued to be on the front foot and frequently recognized for its innovation within the aged care sector and across the business community. Viv is a leader who strives to bring others on the journey of growth and change, always sharing generously her time and experience to support all who aspire to be a difference maker. The registered nurse in Viv never lays down and is always advocating for the profession and its advancement as an integral part of the Health Care team. Viv has created a positive teaching aged care facility over 25 years at Maroba and continues to provide exciting career opportunities for the young and more mature students and employees. So, Viv welcome to the podcast!

Viv (02:29):

Thank you! It’s great to be here.

Josh (02:31):

Now I’d like to ask you about that. I mean, I, I’ve done a little bit of research, so I kind of know the answer, but when I read that last part in your bio about creating a positive teaching aged care facility, I didn’t quite understand what that meant at first. Do you mind kind of letting people know what that, what that means?

Viv (02:46):

Sure. Well, when I was a young nurse, so I was a student nurse at Roland Newcastle hospital, which was a teaching hospital and I loved that environment, multidisciplinary teams, every discipline being represented on the landscape of the hospital and many students. So everyone was learning all along the journey. Yes, you’ve had senior experience, people overseeing all of that, but that environment really led me to wanting to recreate a teaching experience, a teaching environment in an aged care service. So when I started in 1994 at Maroba, uh, I set about establishing that, uh, on a very low key level, cause I had no resources and I have to say, I still have no resources to do that. And I find it interesting because, uh, the government or even the Royal commission talked about, you know, funding, uh, aged care services to create teaching facilities. Uh, but I built it with no, uh, funding. I’d call it the Goodwill economy. Uh, and that has really worked. So, for instance, Maroba has the only, uh, permanent speech pathology student unit based in a nursing home, uh, in partnership with our university in Australia, we have, uh, physio students. So, I teach students social work, students, nursing students. We even have this as students, we have we’ve even had architectural students because there’s a lot of built environment involved in aged care. So there are so many opportunities to bring students into service, to experience firsthand what it’s like to work multidisciplinary so that everyone has a contribution to make to the best possible outcome for those seniors in our care. So it’s been a great journey for me and, um, I’m looking forward to what comes next. Uh, we’re launching on the new graduate nurses program in, in collaboration with AXA. And that started in, uh, employed our first, um, re new brand new registered nurse will do their post-grad year here with us.

Josh (05:02):

So that sounds like it’s a, yeah, I do in your bio, a very innovative approach. It wasn’t sounds like that’s not happening really in, in many aged care places.

Viv (05:10):

Some aged care services have tried to do it. And I know there’s been funding for, for that over time. As soon as the funding stops, the program stop, many aged care services are doing a great job trying to bring head students. So they might have nursing students, uh, but might not be able to offer the services to have the whole range of the health care, uh, people, uh, the multidisciplinary team involved in their service. But it’s, it’s a great aspiration. And, and, you know, I love it because we’re always challenged. You know, bringing students into our facility means we are always going to be challenged. We’re always out practices, always going to be questioned. Uh, we’re going to be exposed to, you know, latest, best practice or learnings, uh, whatever that may look like. I found that exciting because as a registered nurse, I don’t want to stand still in my practice. I want to be, uh, evolving all the time and I don’t intend to go back to uni at my age, but I learned through, uh, the student voices that come here, uh, and the things that they share with us. So I think that’s great. And it’s, it’s good to keep us all on our toes, having extra eyes, learning eyes, cause learning eyes have a different perspective of what services and care we deliver. And so whilst their, uh, their perspective might say, might, may be naive at times, or they don’t really understand the dynamic of what’s happening. He will look with them if they done it, let’s help them understand, but let’s not filter out the benefit of their perspective. It’s a, it’s very valuable.

Josh (06:52):

They could be coming in and asking a insightful question with fresh eyes and learning, as you said that there’s this the thing. Oh, well actually I’ve been working here for a long time, but we hadn’t seen it from that perspective before.

Viv (07:03):

Yeah. So there’s a lot of comings and goings from Maroba and look, our residents, they love seeing young people. They love seeing new faces. They love our carers, but they also do love meeting new people and hearing their stories and, and all of those kinds of things. And the lovely thing with the speech pathology people is I would invariably make the group and I would ask them, well, what are your career aspirations? What do you hope to do in the future? Not all sides are longer and work in pediatrics, you know, cause that’s where it’s happening. That’s where it’s a happening thing. It’s all very lively and exciting in pediatrics. And I said, well, let’s butte. I go back to them at the end of their six week placement. When I say, Hey, you’re traveling. How did you find the experience at Maroba? And they all say, I loved it. I want to work with older people. So the opportunity of having students in the building, in the facility, touching the lives of older people, I would get excited because I’m creating a future interested in Inca workforce. Now they may never come and work on my watch, but I know down the track, at some point they will recall their experience with all the people. And it’s like, gosh, I’d love to go back and have another crack at that. And they’ll come back because their first exposure to watch care was a good one. And that that’s, that’s the, the gift that keeps giving. When you have a student, you won’t get to employ them next week or next month or at the end of their course, that five years into their career or 10 years into their career, that’s when you’ll catch them back.

Josh (08:41):

Hmm. And that’s when, uh, they’ll have even further learnings and further skills have developed and to be a real asset to your team.

Viv (08:48):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And they’ve already fallen in love with all the people. So you don’t have to do that please with the work. Yeah.

Josh (08:56):

Well, um, yeah, I’m glad that you’re talking about, uh, you know, older people and kind of, you know, battling some of the stigma around what that’s like, because I think for some people, they might have a certain idea and I think maybe our chat will help, I guess, enlighten or give a new viewpoint to some people. But, um, before we delve too far down, cause you know, speaking to you, a CEO with 20, I think it’s almost the 27 years now. Am I getting that right?

Viv (09:23):

Yes, they all have been here 27 years.

Josh (09:26):

I mean, when you’re asking someone with that kind of, you know, impressive career where they I’m thinking, where do I start? So why not? At the start? When you first joined the robot, had you already been in aged care? Was it something that was already passionate for you?

Viv (09:40):

So I started in aged care a couple of years earlier as a deputy director of nursing at another nursing home and other faith-based organization at East Maitland at Hreen Hills nursing home. And I just loved the experience. It was wonderful. But one day the director of nursing who I’d become great mates with, she went a bit solid on me and we were sharing an office and I thought, now something’s wrong? What have I done? And I sit down, so I’m not going home today to you tell me what’s wrong. Nothing. I say, look, I’ve never been married, but this is what I imagine a bad marriage to be like getting the silent treatment. I say, I’m not going home until you tell me, well, she finally said to me, look Viv, if you’re leaving us, oh no, I was horrified. I said, what have I done? You know, what sort of HR practices this you’re leaving us. Uh, I said, I love it here Sylvia, I’d really love to stay. And Sylvia passed away in Abbott. She was a wonderful woman. And she said, be the director of nursing position at Maroba has been advertised and it’s written for you and you’re ready for your own ship. So she was ready to support me taking that next step in my career. And I got the job and uh, in full year or no, not 1994. So then by 2000, uh, I’d been executive director of nursing. And then the business and property manager was leaving and told the board that it was time that they matured and had their first CEO. And he suggested that they should ask me to do it, but to have the board kind of see me and said, look, we’d like you to be the CEO. And I said, look, I don’t think you should get someone that can add up because I don’t add up. And I said, I’m not that good at spelling either. So they said, look, we can get people to cover your spelling and your adding up. So we’d like you because you’re strong on clinical. And we’d like that to be remain Maroba’s focus into the years ahead. Now, I couldn’t have dreamed that I would still be here at Maroba for 27 years on. So it’s been a great experience getting to know people and getting to have them, you know, change me, challenged me, uh, grow with me growing me. It’s been a lovely, a lovely mix of how this experience has impacted my life and how, you know, together we’ve made a difference to all the people and that’s been the exciting part. So that’s how it started. That’s how I got to arrive at, by accident, not looking, uh, available I guess, but not seeking.

Josh (12:33):

Well, I think it speaks volumes that not only did your current employee at another place, I need to Cate substitute opportunity, but then, uh, once you’re there, the board said, we need to elevate you to the CEO level. So yeah, clearly you will action speak very loud.

Viv (12:50):

Well, one thing I say to people, I often get asked to give a, a big talk, not a tech talk, but a big talk and one of the things I, as I look back and I say, well, how did that happen here? Here I was in my, um, well, who’d all been anyway, maybe early forties and I’m at home one night, I’m in my dressing gown, slippers on and the front doorbell rings and two board members coming off the moon to see a job without an interview. And I’ll just think, well, isn’t that remarkable? How did I get that? You know, here I am you, how do you, how do you, who in Australia has been given a say, whilst they’ve been in their pajamas at eight o’clock at night, you know, it’s like, but I, the reflection on that ease I’ll look back. And what I’m able to share with people is I can say that throughout my career, and particularly as I’ve matured as a, as a, from a, a young, well at 17, I started using, so I was, you know, pretty well teenager. Um, but then as I matured, I lived at the next level and that’s, that’s what I would encourage people to do. Stop looking for the title before you behave differently, stop looking for the pay rise, stop looking for the status of, of the job that you aspire to start living at that level. And you weren’t to apply for the job. There’ll be offering you the job, uh, like, you know, very basics. You know, I always clean my shoes every day. I never leave the house without clean shoes. Why? Because I don’t want to ask anyone to do what I’m not prepared to do. And what is it about a health service? Well, we should come with what, you know, crispy, clean uniforms and clean shoes, good base, good study point. We need to say I wasn’t leading the way on that. And I’m coming with scruffy shoes and clothes and whatever. I started doing that from day one. When I started nursing, I wasn’t prepared. I wanted to be at the next level. And so I was unintentional living at the next level. Well, now you hear people say, well, I’m not going to do that. That’s above my pay rate, but is it within your capacity to do it? Do you have the skill to do it? Do you have any inclination to make a difference in that situation? Or you’re going to keep sitting back and saying, it’s not my pay rate. I’m not doing it. Whatever profession people are in my best advice is live at the next level. And it doesn’t take, It doesn’t take a degree. Doesn’t take any more education to be living at the next level. Take on more responsibility.

Josh (15:40):

No, I love that point because you hear some people or, you know, the phrase natural leader, for example. But I think what you’re talking about there is to me, more powerful, it’s intentional leadership, putting thought into it, putting those thoughts into practice and then living it every day, as you were saying, you know, such a simple example, you clean shoes, crispy uniform, but that’s just showing, this is the example that I’m setting. This is what I expect. Yep. Yeah. That’s a great, yeah. Really great advice.

Viv (16:09):

Yeah, don’t wait until you’ve got the manager badge to do it because you’ll never get recognized to be the manager. If you’re not able to do it when you’re not the manager. And another thing I say to our people is where’s your known batch. Are you prepared to be named for the care and service that you deliver? Because if I find you’re not wearing a name badge, you’re telling me on ongoing under the radar, if I’m not prepared to be known that I want those residents or these relatives to know my name, now, if you’re wearing your badge, I then can say, if you’re prepared to be named for what you do, I’m prepared to be named for you, because it will be me in front of the Royal Commission, it will be me in front of the commissioner. It will be me before the authorities and I would far rather be standing before them being prepared to be named for what they did. So the kid, a simple step in leadership, everyone can show leadership by being prepared to be named for what you do. It helps us to be more accountable and saying, well, look, you know, I’m all prepared to be named for walking past that rubbish in the car park. Now, most people say, Oh, well, now I would never walk past anything like that. But you see people walk past those things all the time. I won’t, because I’m not prepared to walk past what I’m not prepared to succeed. Now, I don’t, you don’t need a higher pay grade to do that. You don’t need any more training to do that. It’s just starts looking for ways that you can be a difference maker at whatever pay rate you’re on and you will be making a difference.

Josh (17:50):

Now Viv, speaking to you, it’s very clear as to, uh, you know, why you’ve won some of these awards that you’ve won. Um, for example, the Game-Changer of the Year Visionary CEO, another one that wasn’t in your bio that I, I found and thought sounded lovely and again, I’m seeing why is your name the most compassionate CEO?.

Viv (18:10):

That is my favorite. I nearly cried when I saw that come through because I just, I felt that’s, that’s, uh, I’m a nurse. And you know, if I can exhibit compassion, then you know, I shouldn’t be wearing the, the, the, the RN badge. I shouldn’t be, you know, carrying, carrying myself in that space. Um, many years ago, as a young leader, I had a, uh, one of the nursing leaders at Royal Newcastle used to say all the time to me, the trouble with you is, and she’d have a finger at the trouble is you wear your heart on your sleeve. So that tells you I never held back old people didn’t have to second, guess what I was thinking. They knew, but that’s the trouble with you. And I used to, and she used to mean it to put me down, put me back in my box. But I, I was very proud of that because I thought, wow, I’m a nurse. And she’s recognizing I have a heart and that’s on my sleeve. And I’m prepared to bring it into the workplace and bring, bring it into every care intervention that I deliver, whether it be as a direct care worker or a manager or leader. So, to this day, that lady is deceased now, she was a great leader, but, uh, I think she found that irritating with me and had to keep pointing it out. She many years later, I remember she introduced me to function and I hadn’t worked in the public health system for two decades. And she introduced me as Viv and you know, the trouble with her is she wears a hat on her sleeve and I thought, you still haven’t let it go. I still keep you up at night, but Oh, well, it might have an impact there, but it’s so important to bring our hearts, uh, into what we do. And I see, you know, we’ve see all the terrible things on the Royal commission and what is taking place in aged care and disability services and, uh, all of that. But when you think of it, you know, how are we as a society showing up? Are we, are we allowing people to bring their humanity into their workplace? And how many times are you? You might be too young. But I remember hearing all the time from leaders and managers, you know, don’t bring your baggage to work, leave it in the car. And yet, what is our baggage at baggage is our humanity. And he probably would have people look lady leave humanity in the car. If you don’t mind, I’ve only employed your hands and feet, but really, yeah, I say to our people at orientation and employed your hands, your feet, your head and your heart. So if you’re a little bit broken, like me, not a lot, the rest of us, uh, you know, you’re not going to have a spectacular day every day. You’re going to be, you know, showing up less than perfect, but that’s our humanity. That’s a mirror of society. And yet somehow now there’s this expectation that, that healthcare people will be robotic and won’t ever make a mistake. I won’t even say the wrong thing. I’ll always intuitively know the right words to use in every situation on my dime. Why? Because we’re just like everybody else we’re frail. And we’re broken. If I say, leave that in the cab and how do we connect with the humanity of an older, frail person that has been through so much in their lives and are also broken. This is how, how do we do that connection if we’re putting on this facade of now, I’m the perfect professional, you know, I don’t talk about stuff like that with you. You know, you’ll know the psychologist, if you want to unpack your story, uh, to, to raise it. But you know, they, they are staff at a hearing and I hear so many, very deep seated stories from residents, but I connect and I want people to connect with that connect with their pain, uh, and connect with whatever’s going on for them. And I can’t do that. If they’ve got to leave their emotions and everything else in the car.

Josh (22:36):

Now this is from an outsider’s perspective. My perspective, just a question I have is it sometimes, you know, I can imagine in an aged care facility or in a medical kind of sense, the employees are thinking, well, I have to, I’ve got so much to do today. I have to rush from this patient to the next patient, carry out all these tasks. And therefore, you know, and this is stemming my question from what you were saying before about leave your baggage at the door. Well, if they don’t have, they’re like, Oh, I don’t have time to listen to your story. Then they’re missing out on an opportunity there aren’t they to connect.

Viv (23:08):

Absolutely, absolutely. And look, there’s no question that people working in aged care are under her renders time, precious every day, uh, there’s pressures on the roster. You might have the perfect roster that got bit by, you know, six o’clock the next morning. Three people have rang in sick. All the agency, people are being taken up. You can’t get a replacement and everybody’s, you know, struggling to get the work done, but you know, there’s other people in the service that can also, uh, engage with the resident. Um, not just the carer. And I think care is, uh, pretty good at judging that they might say, look on, I’m going to come back and we’ll have a chat. You know, like, let me just get this stuff finished and I’ll, I’ll come back or I’ll get to see, you know, Vicky out the spiritual care director is available and she might be able to come and sit and have time to have a chat with y’all refer on to other people. I mean, I’ve had, I’ve had staff say to me, uh, you know, Mary’s dying families there, would you go and say, pray with them and asked me to go and sit with the family and talk. And, you know, I love those opportunities because I can again, bring my humanity to their situation. I can genuinely feel their pain and their distress and just help help them just by listening and talking them through and sharing what they might expect next and all of those kinds of things. So staff, a fairly aware of who might be a better person in the moment for the situation. And I might come up with no, it’s still there and make a time to come back. So it’s good.


Josh (24:53):

So, you mentioned that, um, just then you’re saying a prayer and early, you mentioned Maroba is a faith based facility, is that correct? Yes. Yeah. So can you tell us a bit more about that?

Viv (25:04):

Well, Maroba was started by one single Baptist church,it was started by a gentleman called Viv Cork, another Viv and he was an hostler, a hostler is someone that takes care of horses. I’m old enough to remember having our bread delivered by horse and cart. Now you’re probably thinking, oh goodness, but you don’t look that old. No, but it’s a true story our bread was delivered by a horse and cart from the store, uh, which was a cooperative in Newcastle and Viv Court was the hostler who looked after those horses. But on a Sunday, he used to go to various places, uh, uh, care, service, aged care services, and pick up the old ladies who were part of the church accommodation, who were widows or had, you know, uh, that never married and take them to church. And he was horrified the way that people sped to them. Oh, Mary, you’ve forgotten your gloves again. That’s terrible. You know how many times I’ve got to tell you? And he went back to the church, he had a dream. He said, can we start something where we can give those ladies back, their dignity? And the church captured that dream, three people mortgage their homes and old cottage in my field. It was 10 room maternity cottage and turned it into the Maroba Rest Home for Elderly Ladies and that is how Maroba started. And it was by faith. They didn’t have money. They just have faith, went and mortgage their homes. And so Maroba has a very strong foundation of faith and, and has grown over time, uh, and to, to where it is today. But that strong core of faith remains the same. Now that’s not to say anyone who’s excluded from Maroba. They’re not, but our foundation is my stone. That lovely scripture. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but what is the greatest commandment is love the Lord, your God, but love your neighbor as yourself. And that was our foundational scripture. So it’s easy for me to say, I can move the mission here, which is to love our neighbor. You choose those in our key, whether it’s staff, volunteers, any stakeholders, my mission and Maroba’s mission is to love those people.

Josh (27:26):

If you start with that as your core, then it’s pretty easy for everything else to fall in place. Isn’t it?


Viv (27:32):

Yes, absolutely.

Josh (27:34):

And that’s lovely. And I do have to mention, because I still can’t get over the fact that your milk was delivered by horse and cart, because, you know, these days people would probably spend $1,500 on a bespoke glamping experience where they get their breakfast delivered by a horse and cart. And that was just your everyday.

Viv (27:53):

Yes, that was normal. That’s right. And when we had the great big, heavy duty bread baskets, that we would leave our bread basket out on the front porch and the baker would deliver it. And, um, and we were on the top of the Hill and I always used to think, how does the horse, you know, how does it not run down the Hill? You know, as the horse set strong, he’s holding the cart back. And, uh, but anyway, so those were funny times.

Josh (28:19):

Yeah. Well, uh, so am I correct in saying as well that you grew up in, uh, in the Newcastle area as well? Yes. So this is all happening in Newcastle.

Viv (28:28):

Yes, absolutely.

Josh (28:31):

Yeah. And still here. Yeah. So that’s a really cool story as well. Just from, you know, from that standpoint, have you ever been asked the question about, um, you know, did you think about going to other areas to, to, you know, lead aged care facilities there or, or those kind of things?

Viv (28:48):

No, not really. I have, I have been asked over the years if I would like to join another service, but I, I feel there’s not many places where you can have your heart on your sleeve and it’s okay, where the foundation is, is love. And I, you know, I feel that my time will be over soon, you know, maybe might go another few years, but when Maroba turns 70, I’ll be, it’s got a nice ring to it, then I’ll be trying for me to get or sooner, but it’s, uh, I I’ve got no regrets. Uh, I don’t regret staying here. Um, and it’s been wonderful to be a part of the Maroba community and family. It’s been enjoyable, challenging, you know, is everyday easy. No, there isn’t an easy day and it is every day different. Yes it is. And having great people around you actually is what delivers the result. Not what I do. I always say to the staff, you know, you guys just make me look awesome. That’s not what I’m doing. That’s what you’re doing. That makes us look good. I just keep talking, but everyone else is actually making it happen and doing it very well.

Josh (30:02):

Speaking of the team, the great staff and the great employees, and Maroba as an employer, that’s where we were introduced to you as part of the Prime Super Employer Excellence in Aged Care Award, um, which is a part of the Bew South Wales and Act Regional Achievement and Community awards. So, you know, that would have been a really great recognition for the team there as well. Yeah,

Viv (30:24):

It was. And, uh, we actually set up our zoom on the thing here at Maroba and, uh, what should he live? So it was, it was great to be part of that. Uh, and, and look, it was a real honor to be, to be recognized and, but to see the other finalist and other winners, there were some wonderful stories in our state of people doing amazing things, uh, under duress, under difficult circumstances. But, you know, I think as Australians people shine and as Aussies, you know, we not allowed to shine, but, but we, but many do, yes, it’s great for them to be recognized.

Josh (31:03):

Well, that’s what the awards are about because, you know, you said that just really nicely that they, as his art, they shine and they do such great things. And especially in regional areas, community and people contributing to that is the heart of towns. And what these awards are about is say, well, we understand that you don’t want to put yourself up on a pedestal, but you know, there’s a lot of people in the community who think you’re doing a great job, they’ve nominated you. And by sharing your story, we’re actually creating really positive role models. We’re creating pride for the region. There’s a lot of good reasons.

Viv (31:38):

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Josh (31:41):

Yeah. The other thing you touched on was, uh, you and the team joined the zoom call because of course we couldn’t hold an event. Unfortunately. How did that impact, you know, Maroba uh, working through, you know, large periods of last year when they were on the shore, you wouldn’t have to have completely new restrictions and guidelines and all sorts of things in place.

Viv (32:00):

Look, it was a very, that’s been a very tough year and it’s, it remains tough, uh, because the advice we get from the authorities, uh, is often conflicting, you know, may not make sense or does not take account of the wait a minute, we’re all going backwards financially. And now we’ve got to do this with no consideration to that. No, you’ve just got to do it and we’ll be inspecting you and making sure you are doing it. And it was very difficult circumstances. I have to say, you know, people have been fatigued, incredibly fatigued and remained fatigued because it still hasn’t stopped. Uh, we, we only came out of masks. So, you know, two weeks ago, and we’re all walking around feeling like we’ve got to keep putting our hands on our mouths and filling up with we’re naughty because we haven’t got our masks on, but we still have restrictions. And yet new South Wales government advice, first line is there are no restrictions on the number of visitors into aged care. You can have as many visitors issue like, but then as you go through it all, now, wait a minute, you still have to socially distance, 1.5 meters, Oh, wait a minute. They still shouldn’t go into communal areas because of the risk of contamination of surfaces. And then families get upset with us that we still have a restriction here that if, you know, to visit inside, you can only have two people other than yourself in your bedroom because the government says, Oh, you can have as many as a lot. So it doesn’t quite work that doesn’t work out. And so we’ve got these contradictions in the advice, um, and then the commission on the commission and they just said, no, that it’s safe. I can have as many as I like, and now that’s all good. But the new South Wales health orders are quite contrary. Yes, you can have as many as you like, but wait a minute, their bedroom, isn’t the size of a ballroom, hang on a minute. Um, we’re still going to put people at risk. It just is quite bizarre. So, under the pressure of, um, having to have vaccines last May but, I think it was the 12th or the 22nd of May that we couldn’t get a vaccine for love nor money. And I was about to have to stand down a whole workforce because we couldn’t get vaccines, but, uh, uh, local industry, the Ella Minium manufacturer managed to get 6,000 employees vaccinated well, but they didn’t have an order on them to have to be vaccinated. But, but with me, while I was making contact with the government, with our local member and to the minister, uh, the quite some time, and in the end, I had to send people to pharmacies all over the region and to bring back the receipt for $25 a head. Whereas we do all our online vaccinations that are much cheaper cost, um, to make sure that, and then two days before the date, the supply arrived. So, but I’d spend a fortune because I couldn’t run the risk of not having anyone here. So not having PPA and it was all very well to the government. I was saying to the same to the nation. Oh no, we’ve got a great stockpile. We’ll be supporting aged care facilities, but HR aged care facility didn’t have enough supply. Like I had enough if I had an right, I would have had enough for one day 24 hours. And the government was wondering why we were wanting to be in lockdown. They say, Oh no, no, you mustn’t be. But we knew when we measured our own risk, we didn’t have enough PPA. We wouldn’t have had enough staff because we were in an exercise that we did. It was clear that we were going to lose probably 50 to 80% of the staff. If there was an outbreak, have to be stood down in an outbreak. And where do I get 80% of a workforce just like that? And the government says, Oh no, we’ll be riding out of the hill any minute on a white horse and we’ll sort it. Well, we saw what happened in Victoria and Sydney that didn’t happen and places were left very vulnerable. And so it was a big, uh, we, you know, I had to escalate things. I was talking to the press and so forth, that was, you know, a lot of pressure, uh, because the press was saying to me, when you go on the record and I say, of course, I’ll go on the record. And I say, well, no one else will. They were afraid of the commission. They were afraid of the government pushed back on them to say, well, what we have at the end of the day, there’s all those lives that we need to protect. Now, if I step on someone’s toes to do that, I’ll do it every day of the week. And there’s the heart on the sleeve. I’m going to do it with a step on a toe or not. And so it was, it was a very pressured time and our staff were feeling the same pressure. They were very excited that I was pushing for them, but for their protection as well, I felt very safe and secure, but everyone’s tired. Everyone’s taught that fatigues setting. Um, and now with the Royal commission report coming out, there’s going to be no response or fee for workforces in aged care that how much longer can they go with not enough staff, not enough wages, uh, and now the additional layers of compliance that’s going to be put upon them, all of us.

Josh (37:41):

Well, the World Commission and aged care in general at the moment is a very hot topic, it appears. Um, and so would you mind, you know, for those who maybe aren’t as familiar with what’s going on, just give a little rundown and I guess I know that you’ve been, as you said before, you’ve been in the press recently on this topic as well. So yes, what’s kind of the little summary that you could maybe give us.

Viv (38:04):

So there’s the Royal commission has gone for more than two years looking into the situation in aged care and hearing from a lot of people that if it had direct experience and bad experiences, I don’t really think they heard from anyone that had a good experience. So, the whole perception is from the commissioners is this is a situation of neglect, of national neglect. So that’s the tone of the report, but there was 148 recommendations, uh, around a whole range of things from the, a new act is needed, new financing arrangements is needed, new commissions needed, um, new workforce initiatives, uh, strategies to develop and improve governance and boards in aged care. So very broad ranging. Uh, unfortunately the both commissioners couldn’t agree on everything like how it should be funded or whether the watchdog should be under the government or an independent body. For instance, now we’ve got a once in a generation opportunity here to get aged care right and unless there is serious money put towards this, you can’t fix something that’s so broken for years, that’s been broken for years. And just in the last 10 years, uh, for instance, wages have gone up 38%. Now that sounds a lot, but over the time that’s been, you know, might be 1.5 or 2.5 or three, and, you know, over time, but subsidies have only gone up 18%. Now, I know I said to you in the beginning, I don’t do numbers, but I’m, I don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that that is totally unsustainable. Yeah. In that time, there’s been two freezes, complete freezes of the subsidy. Another year, there was a $2 billion claw back because the governments at all, they’re claiming too much like putting laws that said that if a manager was found to have made an incorrect claim, there could be criminal penalties what’s come out of the Royal commission was completely perceivable. And any politician that will stand in that house and say, what a shock and a surprise it is to have get got to this is not genuine. They were fake.


Josh (40:32):

Basically, ignoring incremental issues that are appearing over the years.

Viv (40:35):

At the time, the 20 years has been over 26 reports, mostly naught. And now it’s, Oh my goodness. And the prime minister had a few teas over it. Well, really this was familial. And it was on your watch too, not just the previous governments. So everyone’s very quick to, uh, be critical of aged care. And yes, it puts us in this warranted. But on the other hand, we, we can’t keep giving more than is available to us. At some point, the government has to come clean with the community and say, listen, we’re not prepared to pay for the system that we need. Oh, and you’re not prepared to pay more taxes. So suck it up. You’re going to have to be put up with this system. So someone has to come claim instead of just saying, Oh, no, it says we could provide as well. There wicked people in this sector, but it’s not a lot. It’s not a lot. Majority people come to work with the intention of making a difference to an older person, because I can tell you the lowest paid people in Australia are in HQ. And I don’t come for the money, but like come because they’re committed to making a difference is that the majority of people are doing exceptional job under incredible duress and not paid what they are worth.

Viv (42:04):

Yep. I can testify that the people I personally know who are in aged care and in health as a broader industry. Yeah. They’re not doing it because they’re coming for an excellent paycheck doing it because their heart is in it.

Viv (42:17):

Yeah. There’s no bonuses. You don’t get a bonus for him. And he, you know, incontinence pads your change. There’s no bonus for how many people you assist with their mail. There is no bonus. It’s a very minimal wage. And, uh, and that’s, there’s got to be a shift and for the government to keep blaming the training, you know, aged care, aged care providers, aren’t providing enough training. Well, wait a minute. When the cert three that the certificate three, the AI assistant in nursing, uh, started, it was a very robust program, but then the government really took hold of it and created national competencies. Well, look, guess what that turned out to be nationally in competencies. So where do we stand? This is government deemed government required training that now people can do over a couple of weeks and not even touch your patient, but that’s somehow our fault as well. So, uh, it’s a bit sad.

Josh (43:13):

Yes. Well, uh, if we were able to get you in front of the government, the decision makers and get, get a Viv talk happening, you know, what are some kind of a positive things that we can say, well, actually this is what we’re doing, or this is what we could be doing to really make a difference.

Viv (43:29):

Well, I’d certainly be talking about the, um, the Goodwill economy in terms of creating teaching facilities, because that’s where you can really make a difference. Uh, I’d be saying that we need to change the way that we train our key workers, we need to really front up and say, well, look, we know that registered nurses can make a real difference. If they’re given the opportunity to actually do the care, instead of all the administrative work required to support the funding tools, to get people back to their clinical roles and their clinical expertise, because across aged care, many have lost some of those important skills because they’re too busy doing all the paperwork associated with keeping upfunding. So I would say there’s a lot. There was a wonderful opportunity to really change our focus for all the people and give them a better hope for the future, for their lives, instead of the fear they face the fear. So people think that’s people just be going to a nursing home, but let me tell you, uh, older people fear going to the hospital, but if we got a Royal Commission into the hospital, what’s happening there now, we don’t, people don’t realize how many people die at the hands of healthcare professionals, uh, with, with mistakes. But if it’s a national incident, if there’s a mistake in an aged care service where I don’t have all qualified people as certificate through people who do very well, but they don’t have the expertise, the layers of expertise. So what I’d bring that into focus. So let’s look at this mix of staffing, and let’s truly support that with proper funding, uh, to have the right people, looking after people that are very complex, some might not leave as much physical assistance, but their needs are very complex. Remember the times have changed. People used to drive their cars into aged care hostels. It was a social model of care because I didn’t want to be at home alone anymore. And I wanted someone to do their meals and their cooking and their cleaning, and that’s how it started. But now people are coming in very frail, much sicker, advanced dementia and mental health issues. And it’s very complex. And it just isn’t enough hours in the care donor, uh, to provide everything that they need. So that would be a sharp focus, uh, to ask the government, to give consideration to the joy of BC’s. If they step up to the plate and put their hand on their hat and say, I’m going to be the government that makes uncomfortable decisions about taxes, and I’m going to commit the money, uh, then they too, will experience the joy of making a difference to an older person.

Josh (46:12):

Yeah, I think, you know, it’s a, that makes sense, because this is an issue for everyone. We’ve all got loved ones who, you know, and we all get older ourselves and it will be in the same position. Uh, as we get older, we want to be in the best possible care in loving and caring care. And I think everyone listening here has their own opinion on it. But I, for one, think that, uh, as I get older, maybe, uh, moving to Newcastle, get to Maroba.

Viv (46:39):

Well, I have to say as a single childless woman, and aging rapidly, I have chosen, I want to come to Maroba because I know what we offer here. I’m not interested in, I small 10 person cottage, cause that’s, everyone’s pushing for cottages and small home loan bars. See, I like the cruise ship aspect because I don’t want to be in a house with 10 people, I don’t like. Whereas if I’m in a building with a hundred people, I can make friends all over the place. I can go all over the place and try different experiences and getting involved in different activities instead of just the same 10 people every day. I’m not, I don’t want to do that. I cringe at the thought. Now those cottages will suit some people they’ll suit beautifully, but not everyone. I don’t. I fear that the government in the recommendations mentions about, you know, they, they, they need to move to these smaller models of services and so forth. But I just cringe. I just sit down and I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be caught with 10 people, I don’t like, it sounds like a bad reality show when you put it. Yeah, that’s right. Big brother.

Josh (47:53):

Yeah Viv, it’s been such a pleasure talking to you. You’re a fantastic leader and that’s really jam up the Newcastle community, I think as a whole. And I’m just excited for people to hear this get really, you know, I guess he has some positive news and some positive stories about aged care and that people really care. They really, as you said, you wear your heart on your sleeve and I think that’s what we need.

Viv (48:16):

Absolutely. Well, look, it’s been great talking to you and, uh, thoroughly enjoyed my hour. So it’s been the highlight of my week. Thanks.

Josh (48:24):

Before we let you go. Can people, uh, if they want to hear more about you, can they connect with you on LinkedIn for example?

Viv (48:30):

Yes. Yes. I’m on LinkedIn. Yes. Yes, absolutely. And on the Maroba Facebook page and, uh, and yes, so that’s probably the best way, you know, on the Maroba website, you can find how to contact me, call me whatever. 

Josh (48:48):

Thank you, Viv. Absolute pleasure. And we look forward to following these and extra years and yeah. Excited that Maroba will come to 70 years, right?

Viv (48:56):

Yeah. Yes. Very soon. Thanks. Okay.

Josh (49:02):

I hope you enjoyed that interview. If you liked it or any of our other episodes, it would be great. If you can rate and review the inspirational Australians podcasts, it really helps us out. If someone, you know, needs a little dose of inspiration, why not let them know about this podcast? And if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribed so that you won’t miss an episode, join us each week. As we talk with ordinary Australians, achieving extraordinary things, you can always head through our website at awardsaustralia.com/podcast, for more information and details on each guest. Now, before we go, I’d like to thank Annette, our producer. Here’s a fun fact, Annette is my mum and our other hosts Geoff is my dad. This podcast is brought to you by Awards Australia, a family-owned business that proudly uncovers the stories of people who make a difference for others. We can only do this with the support of our corporate and not-for-profit partners as they make our awards programs possible. So, do you know someone making a difference? If you’d like to recommend someone to be guests on the podcast, get in touch through our Instagram page, Inspirational.Australians, or maybe your business might like to sponsor the podcast or get involved with the awards. We run head to our website, awardsaustralia.com for more details until next week, stay safe and remember, together we make a difference.

Annette (50:28):

Thanks for joining us today on the inspirational Australians podcast, we hope you enjoyed listening and have been inspired by ordinary Australians, achieving extraordinary things. So, it’s goodbye for another week. Remember, together we make a difference.