Aged Care Financing Authority Member Biographies

Page last updated: 28 August 2017

Ms Lynda O'Grady


Ms Lynda O’Grady is the Chairman of the Aged Care Financing Authority, a statutory committee established to provide independent advice to government on funding and financing issues in aged care.

She is also a non-executive director of Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Limited and member of the Advisory Board of Jamieson Coote Bonds.

Until the creation of the Australian Digital Health Agency effective July 2016, she served as independent director of National Electronic Health Transition Authority (nehta) for six years.

Ms O’Grady previously held senior roles at Executive/Managing Director level at Telstra, including as Chief of Product. Prior to this, Ms O’Grady was Commercial Director of Australian Consolidated Press, the publishing subsidiary of Publishing & Broadcasting Limited and General Manager of Alcatel Australia.

She has previously served on the Council of Bond University, Boards of Screen Queensland and TAB Queensland and on the IT&T Board of Advisors to the New South Wales Treasurer.

She holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) degree gained at the University of Queensland and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Mr Nick Mersiades

Deputy Chair

Nick Mersiades is Director, Aged Care, in Catholic Health Australia and a member of the Australian Government’s Aged Care Sector Committee.  Nick has extensive experience in government and health and aged care gained from working at senior levels in the Australian Government and in the not-for-profit sector.

Nick is the former head of the Ageing and Aged Care Division in the Department of Health and Ageing. The Division was responsible for developing policy advice for the Minister and for administering the Australian Government’s residential and community aged care programs. Nick has also served as State Manager of the Department’s Queensland and New South Wales offices and headed the Department’s Budget Management Branch. Prior to joining the Department of Health and Ageing, he held senior executive service positions in the  Department of Finance where he was involved in public policy issues across a number of portfolios.

Nick left the Department of Health and Ageing in 2006 to become the General Manager of Strategic Policy for Catholic Healthcare Limited, a large provider of health and aged care services based in New South Wales.

Mr Ian Yates AM 

Ian Yates is Chief Executive of COTA Australia, the national peak body for COTAs (Councils on the Ageing) in each State and Territory of Australia. Ian was appointed CE of COTA SA in June 1989 and has played national leadership roles in COTA since 2002.

COTAs are the peak aged consumer organisation in each state and territory and nationally, with thousands of organisational members representing over 500,000 seniors, plus 30,000 individual members.

Ian serves on a wide variety of federal government and aged care sector national bodies. He is a member of the Federal Government's Aged Care Financing Authority; the Aged Care Sector Committee and the Aged Care Quality Advisory Council of the Aged Care Quality Agency and the Department of Health's ACFI Monitoring Group. Ian is the COTA representative on the National Aged Care Alliance and its Sponsors Group. He is a Board member of the Aged Rights Advocacy Service (ARAS) in SA.

Beyond aged care Ian is a member of the Consumer Advisory Panel to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), a Director of Livable Housing Australia, and a member of the Advisory Board of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR).

Ian is Chair of the Management Committee of the Australasian Journal on Ageing (AJA) and serves as a Director of COTA's Insurance and Membership Services Ltd (IMS).

Ian has previously been a Director of the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency and has served on the Consumer Consultative Committee to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), the National Forum on Mature Age Participation, and the former Ageing Consultative Committee to the Federal Minister for Ageing.

Over the last decade Ian has been Deputy Chancellor of Flinders University and Chair of its Strategic Resources Committee and various other Committees; Chair of the Cancer Council SA and a Director of the Cancer Council Australia; Deputy Chair of the Repatriation General Hospital in SA; Deputy Chair of the SA Council of Social Service; Board Member of the Southern Adelaide Health Service; Board Member of the Flinders Medical Centre; and a member of the SA Government's Health Performance Council.

Ian holds a BA from Flinders University; is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors; is an Honorary Doctor and Emeritus Deputy Chancellor of Flinders University; and was awarded Membership in the Order of Australia (AM) in June 2005.

Mr Gary Barnier

​Gary Barnier is the Managing Director of Opal Aged Care, the largest privately owned provider of residential aged care in Australia, a role he has held since March 2011.  Opal employs nearly 7,000 staff across its 72 locations. Over the last decade, Gary has held roles as Chief

Financial Officer of DCA Group Limited (an ASX 100 listed company) and Chief Executive Officer of the I-Med Network Limited.

Gary’s career has included senior management roles in marketing and strategy with companies such as Boral and George Weston Foods.

Gary is a fellow of CPA Australia and holds an MBA from the Macquarie Graduate School of Management

Gary is a member of the Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA), the Aged Care Sector Committee and a Director of the Aged Care Guild.

Mr John Pollaers

​Mr John Pollaers is Chair of the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC), Chairman of the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council, a Member of the Aged Care Financing Authority and co-Chair of the National Breast Cancer Foundation Council. He is also a Director at the University of Melbourne's Centre for Workplace Leadership.

As inaugural Chair of the AISC, Mr Pollaers leads the Committee in its role of providing advice to Commonwealth and state and territory Ministers in relation to policy directions and decision making processes in the vocational education and training sector.

Mr Pollaers was a member of the Expert Advisory Committee of the National Preventative Health Agency. He was previously the Director of the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the founding Chairman of the healthy drinking initiative Drinkwise.

His previous roles include CEO Pacific Brands Ltd, CEO Fosters Group Ltd, and President Asia Pacific at Diageo PLC. Mr Pollaers began his career as an Officer in the Royal Australian Navy.

Mr Pollaers has an MBA from INSEAD and Macquarie University, BEng (Hons) and BSc from University of New South Wales, and is a fellow of the University of Melbourne School of Business and Economics.

Dr Mike Rungie

Dr Rungie has specialised in understanding how people live well in their 70s, 80s, 90s, undertaking a variety of studies, research projects and service trials.

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.

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.

He currently sits on various boards and expert panels.

Ms Louise Biti

Ms Biti has 20 years’ experience in financial services and is well respected across the industry.

She is the co-founder and director of Strategy Steps and now Aged Care Steps.

Her experience and background is in providing technical and strategic support on legislative matters to financial planners, accountants and lawyers.  This includes a focus on the practical implications for clients and the creation of financial planning strategies.

Ms Biti was previously Executive Manager - Adviser Solutions for Suncorp Wealth Management (previously Asteron).

Ms Susan Emerson

Ms Emerson has been Director, Care Environments and Service Strategy (Helping Hand Aged Care Inc) for the past 8 years.

She has primary responsibility for leading the development of a culture and physical environment which assists clients to achieve the best possible quality of lifestyle.

Her role seeks to promote and support safe, high quality services for all Helping Hand clients. This means working with staff in a range of settings to ensure a systematic approach to the commissioning of new buildings and accommodation.

Ms Emerson supports student and research activities and has previously worked as a Case Services Manager and Registered Nurse.