Dementia Australia announces new CEO

Public health expert Professor Tanya Buchanan joins the consumer advocacy organisation.

Dementia Australia has announced public health expert Professor Tanya Buchanan will commence as chief executive officer of the advocacy organisation in May.

Currently CEO of Cancer Council Australia, Professor Buchanan has worked in health, academia, local government and the voluntary sector. She commenced her career as a registered nurse and spent a considerable period of her clinical life in neuroscience.

Professor Buchanan – who is active in public health research and practice – is an honorary professor of practice at the University of Wollongong, where she attained her PhD in public health.

Professor Buchanan (pictured above) said she was looking forward to taking a public health approach to reducing the incidence and impact of dementia.

“Growing evidence suggests up to 40 per cent of dementia diagnoses could be averted or significantly delayed with effective public health measures,” she said. “I look forward to meeting key stakeholders and working with the team to continue to reduce the incidence and impact of dementia and to ensure every person affected by dementia has access to the best care and support possible so that we can improve outcomes for all Australians.”

Merran Kelsall

Dementia Australia chair Merran Kelsall – who announced Professor Buchanan’s appointment in an email communication to supporters on Thursday – welcomed her to the role.

“Professor Buchanan … brings a wealth of experience gained through her extensive and impressive career in the health, research and not-for-profit sectors. We believe her strong leadership and advocacy experience will advance Dementia Australia as the national peak body for dementia,” Ms Kelsall said.

Professor Buchanan has nursing and communications degrees, an MBA in health services and governance qualifications. In 2011, Professor Buchanan won the Leading Wales Award for the not-for-profit sector and was honoured for her contribution to public health in the United Kingdom. In 2023, she was awarded the University of Wollongong Alumni Award for Social Impact.

In her current role, Professor Buchanan has been involved in public health and cancer support reforms including the recent tobacco control legislation changes, the introduction of the Australian Cancer Nursing and Navigation Program, and the forthcoming vaping reform legislation.

Her appointment comes amidst a busy time for the advocacy body as it considers ongoing aged care reforms, review of the Aged Care Act, the development of the National Dementia Action Plan and current federal government activity with prevention initiatives.

“I am thrilled to be joining Dementia Australia at such a significant time,” Professor Buchanan said.

Professor Buchanan will replace Maree McCabe, who last year notified the board of her decision to complete her time as CEO in 2024 after 13 years with the organisation – firstly with Alzheimer’s Australia Vic, and then Dementia Australia.

Ms Kelsall said it was not easy to find someone to replace Ms McCabe. “Ms McCabe has led us through a significant period of change and growth for the organisation,” Ms Kelsall said.

Maree McCabe

“She is compassionate, considered and authentic and, through her leadership, has made a tremendous difference to the lives of people impacted by dementia.”

Ms McCabe said being CEO of Dementia Australia had been an honour and a privilege.

“I extend my profound appreciation to those I have had the privilege of working with, including people of all ages living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers, along with the amazing team at Dementia Australia, our supporters and my colleagues across the sector.”

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Tags: Dementia Australia, Maree McCabe, merran kelsall, Tanya Buchanan,

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