After a remarkable 10 years as the Board Chairman of not-for-profit and charitable aged care and independent living provider Banksia Villages Limited, Stephen Palywoda signed off his final Chairman’s report to the company’s 29th Annual General Meeting (AGM) last week. Stephen acknowledged and thanked the staff of Banksia for all they do every day in support of residents and clients and reinforced the need for Banksia to be adaptable, flexible and innovative in its approach to the post-Royal Commission aged care environment. This focus on the contribution of others and strategic alignment of the company is typical of Stephen.
Last week, however, it was time at last to put the focus firmly on Stephen, as he was honoured with Life Membership of Banksia Villages.
Former Banksia CEO, Banksia Life Member and well-known Eurobodalla local Phil Armstrong offered the nomination, speaking of Stephen’s outstanding vision and leadership during a period of constant changes and challenges. The nomination was seconded by Banksia Life Member and former Board Chair Graham Smith, who recalled the time about 12 years prior when he had suggested that Stephen consider nominating for the Board. “I knew he’d make a terrific Director and that his commitment and dedication to Banksia would never be in question” said Mr Smith at the AGM.
When the nomination was put to a vote, the decision was unanimous. All present wholeheartedly agreed that conferring Life Membership was a most appropriate way to acknowledge Stephen for his extraordinary contribution to Banksia.
Stephen came to serve on the Board of Banksia following a highly successful career in Canberra. Prior to retiring to the Batemans Bay area in 2008. Stephen served for over forty years in the Australian Public Service and private sector across a range of executive roles including CEO positions. Stephen was also awarded a Public Service Medal in 1996 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Australian Public Service.
At last week’s AGM, Stephen stepped down from the Banksia Board, having served as Director for 11 years and as Chairman for the past 10 years. Graham Wise, Banksia CEO, noted that Stephen had made an enormous contribution to Banksia during his tenure. “He has shown a calm and steady hand through some of Banksia’s most challenging moments and an unwavering commitment to Banksia’s residents and clients. He has left an enduring legacy for Banksia, and I will miss his leadership” said Mr Wise.
Some of the key events and milestones during Stephen’s tenure include the award-winning $9M expansion of Banksia Lodge in 2015; the completion of the Grevillea community centre, swimming pool, gym and admin building in 2013; and, of course, the challenging times during 2020 including the bushfire emergency and the preparations and changes required to deal with COVID-19.
Stephen and his wife Christine now plan to return to Canberra to spend more time with children and grandchildren.
At the same AGM, Jeff Whittle also retired from the Board having served for more than 7 years, diligently overseeing Banksia’s financial and risk management portfolio through his tenure. Mr Wise thanked Jeff, saying that “His acute financial skills, thoroughness and guidance delivered financial governance in the highest order.”
Two new Board members, Sanjay Singh and Sally Druhan, were appointed at the AGM, replacing the outgoing Directors. Sanjay is a local consultant surgeon and owner of Mogo Day Surgery with an extensive background in healthcare. Sanjay has actively supported the Eurobodalla community for many years, in particular supporting aspiring students through the Singh Family Trust scholarship program. Sally Druhan is a Chartered Accountant with over 30 years’ experience working in a range of senior finance and service delivery roles in the private and public sectors, and is keen to contribute to the local community and aged care sector.