Spotlight on Success
Susan Parr is the immediate past chair of the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The former CEO of St Ann’s Living has a diverse business background, holding several board and community directorships and was seconded for 12 months as coordinator of the community recovery at Port Arthur after the tragic events of 1996. She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Program on Negotiation and is a Tasplan Board member.
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
Working in my father’s pharmacy at age 14. He was my toughest boss and instilled in me the importance of prompt, smiling and effective customer service.
Can you please provide a background on your career?
As a very young mother I studied full-time at university. This experience helped me to develop substantial organisational skills such as priority setting, time management and budgeting. My early career involved running a child care centre at Bridgewater, co-ordinating the Hobart Family day care scheme and subsequently community service roles for the Hobart City Council ranging from community services to events and the reform of Salamanca Market.
Drawing on your experience as the coordinator of community recovery after the Port Arthur Massacre – how hard will it be for Australia to recover and rebuild after this summer’s bushfire crisis.
From my experience coordinating the recovery, I expect that those affected by the bushfires directly and indirectly will be going on a long journey to recover from feelings of loss, grief, guilt and powerlessness. Individuals’ mental health and physical well-being will be compromised. Relationships will be stressed and children will need extra support. Signs of physical recovery such as rebuilding are important as is establishing a new sense of trust and security. Economic recovery must be managed and supported.
Given your extensive background in the aged care sector, and the ageing population of Tasmania, what is your vision for its future?
After almost 20 years working in aged care and having seen so many dedicated and passionate people work hard to try to deliver the best they can to elderly people in their care. Tasmania with its dispersed and aging population has a terrific opportunity to build a model of care services that integrate the community fully with those who need special care that is not able to be provided at home. We must recognise that adequate and predictable financing is key to the provision of sustainable quality services. This means governments must recognise and fund aged care services as part of the overall health budget and families need to recognise that care for their loved ones is a financial responsibility which should be met according to their means.
Why did you decide to join the TCCI board and what do you list as your greatest achievement during your time as Chair?
I stood for election to the TCCI at a time when the organisation was crumbling. As a member, I was motivated by the need for a strong and effective voice for businesses in Tasmania and the power that could be harnessed to improve the economy. As Chair, I am proud of the cohesion and drive we were able to achieve to transform the TCCI into one of the most effective Chambers in Australia. A standout achievement for me is the initiation of the Tasmania Report which underpins so much of policy debate now.
How important is the Tasplan merger decision for the future of the business in Tasmania?
The recent merger announcement bears testimony to the capability of Tasmania to attract national providers to our services. The merger will see new jobs created in Tasmania in the sophisticated area of Superannuation administration.
What would your advice be to new Premier Peter Gutwein, given how secure the state’s business outlook has been under the leadership of Will Hodgman in recent years?
As identified in the 2019 Tasmania Report, health is the biggest hand brake on our economy. The new premier should broaden the focus of health services to a whole of life wellness paradigm, not just the provision of hospital services.