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This week, Gippsland Lakes Complete Health (GLCH) farewells Sue Medson OAM as Chief Executive Officer after a 10-year tenure.

After an impressive career in the child, youth and family services sector, which ultimately led to her receipt of an Order of Australia Medal in 2009, Sue commenced her role as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GLCH, on 31 January 2011.

Sue holds a Masters in Health Administration and a Bachelor of Education. She also has qualifications in Health Service Management and Teaching, and is an Graduate of Australian Institute of Company Directors. Sue’s illustrious career has seen her assume Senior Management roles for over 30 years, with more than 15 years in CEO positions for community health and social service organisations across Victoria, including Latrobe Community Health Service, FamilyCare in Shepparton, Goulburn Valley Community Health Service and Otway Health and Community Service. Ms Medson has also held roles on the Boards of local Aboriginal organisations including Lake Tyers Health and Children’s Service, Lakes Tyers Aboriginal Trust Transition Board, and Lakes Entrance Aboriginal Health Association.

GLCH is a unique health agency in that it provides services catering to every stage of the lifecycle, from maternal child health to palliative care and everything in between. During Sue’s time as CEO at GLCH, the organisation has grown from 288 staff, to now employing more than 500 people across its five locations in Lakes Entrance, Bairnsdale, Nowa Nowa, Bruthen and Metung.

Under Sue’s leadership, this not-for-profit’s budget has expanded from $18M to a $53M, with key achievements during that time including: the opening of the Metung facility (2012); winning the Victorian Public Healthcare Award for Excellence in Service Provision (2013); taking on the management of the Gippsland Lakes Community Health Children’s Centre (2013); merging with Nowa Nowa Community Health Centre (2014); GLCH turning 40 (2015); introducing an electronic client record system called TCM (2015); introduction of the NDIS (2018); completing the Bairnsdale capital works project (2019); rebranding from ‘Gippsland Lakes Community Health’ to ‘Gippsland Lakes Complete Health’ (2019); establishing the Bushfire Recovery Support program and responding to COVID-19 implications (2020 and ongoing).

“When it comes to leadership, I’ve always believed that if you are leading and nobody is following, then you’re just out for a walk! So you better make sure that you turn around and take people with you, because otherwise it’s not leading. I’d like to believe that’s how I’ve lead, both at GLCH and throughout my career.”

Of course, Sue’s tenure has not been without its challenges. “The greatest challenge to date was, by far, addressing the bushfire situation by employing 17 new staff – immediately! And while we were recruiting, we had to simultaneously be providing support services because it was all happening during a disaster, which meant people needed support right then and there. The great thing is, we did it! We attracted more than double the number of people we needed to hire, and I think this occurred 1) because people wanted to help, and 2) they knew that GLCH was a good employer. So that situation was both a challenge and a success, because we have ended up providing support to well over 1,000 families in the East Gippsland region. And once you extrapolate that out to the numbers of people within families, that’s several thousands of people whom we’ve helped.”

Sue’s professional legacy will include established partnerships with other local agencies, such as the East Gippsland Health Services Alliance and Connect Well; and the production of the compelling documentary called “Beyond the Fire”, which is still available for viewing on the TENPlay app.

“The ‘Beyond the Fire’ documentary has definitely been a career highlight for me. Because hearing from the participants about how much of a difference it’s made for them, as well as many others, is what it’s all about,” explained Sue.

“Another highlight for me, has been working with Aboriginal communities. Over the years, I’ve seen so much change among people who were once too nervous to come to our health service; now, through the Lakes Entrance Aboriginal Health Association, which serves as a conduit, so many more people are comfortable coming to GLCH.”

Upon retirement, Sue will be moving out of East Gippsland to be closer to family. She looks forward to scrapbooking whenever she likes, travelling on a whim (once COVID permits!), and spending more time with her husband, children and their six grandchildren (including jamming on the guitar with her 15-year-old grandchild).

“I’ll really miss all the wonderful people I work with, especially the Board who have been an absolute tower of strength and support. I’ve really loved the work, but I’m now ready to slow down and set my own pace for each new day.”

Sue is being succeeded as CEO at GLCH by Ms Anne-Maree Kaser. Anee-Maree has been CEO of Windana Drug and Alcohol Recovery since 2013, after occupying senior roles at Latrobe Community Health Service and Regional positions in the Victorian Departments of Health and Human Services. With a background in nursing, Anne-Maree has extensive experience across the areas of family violence, alcohol and other drugs, aged and disability and most importantly, community health.