Patricia Sparrow
CEO, COTA Australia


Patricia leads the peak body for older Australians, taking a constructive approach to building an inclusive and bright future for older people. Her goal is to eliminate ageism, which should be as socially unacceptable as sexism and racism. Studying ageism as part of her BA in Social Sciences, she was inspired to volunteer in home care, and do meals runs. She cried when an older woman held on to her hand and asked her to stay because she had not seen anyone that day, and anyone young in a long time. 

Committed to building a more inclusive Australia that appreciates and welcomes the contribution of older people, Patricia’s career spans community, disability, and aged care, health, and advocacy roles. She has experience from the perspective of not-for-profit, public service, advocacy, Ministerial office, and most importantly, as a support to her own ageing family members. 

Her vision for COTA Australia is to lead the elimination of ageism. She has seen older friends bring incredible skills back from overseas and struggle to get a job. She knows that care work is underpaid because ageism and sexism too often come together to value neither the carer, nor the client. She understands that Australia misses out when we lock people in poverty, and do not let them contribute. 

Patricia centres her work on the value of older people. Everyone deserves the benefit of older people we love in our lives. She has worked consistently to improve the choice and control older people have in their own lives, working to reform aged care to fund the individual’s care, rather than the provider, and following through to make sure the system works. She sees housing, the full recognition of First Nations peoples, and workplace ageism as the next big challenges. 

The Care Economy 

The Care economy in Australia represents a crucial and dynamic sector that plays a pivotal role in supporting our aging population. In recent years, we have seen significant growth in the demand for aged care services, driven by demographic shifts and changing healthcare needs. As we discuss the challenges and opportunities in this sector, we must focus on innovative solutions and collaborative efforts to ensure that our seniors receive the dignity and care they deserve in their golden years.