Mark Tucker-Evans is Chief Executive at the Council on the Ageing (COTA), and a former QCOSS board member. During the 2018 QCOSS Annual General Meeting he was made an honorary lifetime member in recognition of his contribution to the organisation during his term on the board.
What does it mean to have become an honorary lifetime member?
Well it was unexpected I've got to say, that as somebody who's been at COTA for almost 20-odd years, you know my interest is very much around trying to bring about the social change - to make sure that people age well.
You don't do these things for recognition, you do it because you've got a passion for it. But I'm absolutely honoured to be made a life member of QCOSS. I hold the organisation in high regard, and the fact that they recognized my contribution means a lot.
What does QCOSS mean to you?
Well I guess I became aware of QCOSS when I came into the sector. I've worked in professional organisations, research organisations, and media organisations - but I wasn't really aware of QCOSS until I came to COTA. But I was really impressed with the attitude, the commitment of QCOSS’s member, so the sector in general. But also the staff and the board at the time. So I think that the work of QCOSS, where they're really trying to bring about social change, but together with the sector, is really important.
How has QCOSS changed in the time you have been involved?
I think QCOSS now engages better across the sector than it did a decade or so ago. It's changed a lot. When I first went to QCOSS they were in this tiny little building at Kelvin Grove, and obviously the organisation's much better funded now. Much larger staff - but the thing that I think continues, is very much that commitment and passion of the people who are involved in the organisation.
With QCOSS in it’s 60th year, which moments of social change have been the most memorable?
It may be because it's the most recent but I do think that in fact the Human Rights legislation that went to Parliament last week and got passed is really a significant event. And we were really pleased along with QCOSS to be involved in pushing that, recognising certainly the leadership of Aimee McVeigh who actually has guided this through all the barriers over the last four or five years.
But I think for the sector, but also for Queensland, a Human Rights Act that really gives rights to every Queenslander - this is a significant change.
What are some challenging social issues in 2019?
I think two things - one is we've got to close the gap. Life expectancy between indigenous and non-indigenous people is still unacceptable, so we need to work and we’re - and the peaks are doing some work with QCOSS around Family Matters but again, appropriately being led by QATSIP - is really important work.
Two - I think the issue that I'm seeing increasingly is around cost of living. Being that as we are aging, but - so at one end of the spectrum we've got older people who are living longer and really facing massive challenges in just having a decent quality of life. And at the other end of a life course, we've got younger people who are really struggling to actually get a foothold.
What are some challenges?
I think it's been an evolution, and I think that QCOSS now provides some real leadership amongst the COSS’s across Australia. I think it's certainly one of the probably more sustainable of the COSS’s - so it's got good reserves, and that's one of the issues I think all of us have within the sector is - how do we not only do the work that we're passionate about, but how do we also make sure that the organisation is sustainable? So I was pleased to leave the organisation in good shape.