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Gail Mulcair retires from Speech Pathology Australia

After nearly 19 years at the helm of Speech Pathology Australia, Gail Mulcair, the highly respected and dedicated Chief Executive Officer (CEO), has announced her resignation.

Gail advised the Board of Directors that she will finish as CEO in May 2023.

Gail commenced as CEO in August 2004. As a former speech pathologist, Gail brought her knowledge and working experience to bear in this key leadership role. During her years as CEO, Gail has guided the association through significant growth and change.

In 2004 when Gail commenced, the national office had a staff of nine people. It now has 52 employees. Membership, a little under 3,500 when she commenced, has grown to over 13,500 today. And as CEO, Gail provides oversight of an operating budget that will pass $8 million in 2023.

In her time at the helm, Gail has provided leadership, not only as CEO of the association, but as a mentor for the wider speech pathology profession in Australia. She helped deliver significant service change, influenced government and policy development, and raised the profile of Australians with communication and swallowing needs.

Under Gail’s guidance, the Association advocated for and secured the Commonwealth Senate (Community Affairs References Committee) Inquiry into the prevalence of different types of speech, language and communication disorders and speech pathology services in Australia. This was a crowning achievement event for the association, unmatched in raising the profile of the speech pathology profession, and awareness of the impact of communication and swallowing disabilities.

Gail’s vision for the future of the profession was instrumental in the commissioning of the landmark Speech Pathology 2030 – making futures happenproject. This project maps the vision and aspirations of the association's profession as it seeks to engage the challenges of tomorrow, and continues to drive our purpose.

Gail is respected and well-regarded by her colleagues at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, along with many other international organisations. Gail was instrumental in the formation in 2014 of the International Communication Project (ICP).

In 2019, when Speech Pathology Australia (along with the ICP) hosted a special communication disability side event at the 2019 Conference of States Parties on the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations in New York City, Gail was also invited to deliver an Intervention Statement at the General Debate Assembly concerning the needs and rights of those with communication disability.

Gail’s keen strategic insight has made her a sought after, and invaluable participant on the Boards of the Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA) and the National Alliance of Self Regulating Health Professions (NAHSRP). While Chair of AHPA, Gail received a ministerial appointment to the Primary Health Reform Steering Group. More recently, Gail was appointed, as an independent representative, on the National Aged Care Advisory Council (NACAC), in which she will continue to play a significant role in aged care reform.

During 2020, Gail ensured that Speech Pathology Australia was highly responsive to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the initiatives and responses that the Association was able to give over this period of crisis were well received, and kept the profession in strong stead.

Gail will be leaving the association midway through 2023, and she continues to work to finalise the Association’s Strategic Plan 2023-2035 — her 7th strategic plan! This strategic plan will guide the further growth, health, and direction of the association and the profession for the years ahead.

Commenting on the announcement of her resignation (and planned ‘semi-retirement’), Gail said,

“It has been an immense honour and privilege to lead the Association over this time, and to work with so many incredible and passionate colleagues and members. I feel proud of the achievements made, nationally and internationally, to support an increased awareness and value of the speech pathology profession and the recognition of the needs of those with communication and swallowing difficulties. This has only been achieved through the strong efforts of the Board, members, and our staff team, and I am extremely grateful for everyone’s support and commitment over the years”.

Gail will continue as Chief Executive Officer for a further six months, and the search for her successor is underway.

Taken from Tim Kitten, National President, Speech Pathology Australia Statement on 12 April 2023.

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