5 minutes with our Chair Chris Forbes
2 March 2022
Chris is the new ACDPA Chair and CEO, Kidney Health Australia. He brings a wealth of experience to the role from his years in senior executive positions across non-government and commercial organisations.
Welcome to the role. From a personal perspective, what interests you in this work?
A big driver is knowing that much of the chronic disease affecting Australians could be prevented.
Nearly 1 in 2 Australians have a chronic disease and 1 in 5 Australians are living with multiple conditions. But reducing risk factors to prevent disease doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
I’m a parent of two teenage girls, so I completely understand the challenges for parents who are trying to raise healthy kids. I look around and see junk food everywhere. The supermarket shopping aisles full of sugar and salt. The hidden sugars. Those slurpies!!
If we want to change these things, we need to work together to create demand and pressure for healthier environments around us.
Are there any personal stories that have stuck with you from your time at Kidney Health Australia?
My role at Kidney Health Australia is my first role in health, coming from many years in sport and entertainment. In my interview, the Board asked if I could be as passionate about kidney disease as I was about sport and entertainment.
Truthfully, I wasn’t sure.
Then, in my first week I visited a renal unit in Adelaide and saw the tremendous impact kidney failure has on people, their families and carers. I’ve had people hold my hand and say “I wish I had known”.
We can get in front of this disease through prevention, awareness and early detection – the same with other chronic diseases – to improve outcomes for people living with chronic disease and reduce the impact on our health services and economy.
It’s time to change the paradigm.
What do you think are the next big challenges or opportunities?
COVID-19 is obviously dominating the world we live in. The pandemic has tested the health system and there’s been a huge focus on preventing and detecting disease. But we’ll be dealing with the long-term effects for many years.
People who’ve had COVID-19 have an increased risk of kidney damage and other complications in the future. So it’s really important for people to see their doctor for regular health checks to understand their risks and monitor their health.
There are also huge gaps in access to care and support across Australia.
I’ve seen the very real impact of chronic disease in remote parts of Australia. Many people living with chronic conditions struggle to access the care they need at the right time. And many conditions could have been detected and treated earlier for better outcomes.
ACDPA can provide a voice for all those Australians who are desperate for better health.
How do you switch off from work?
You heard I have two teenage girls right? They keep me busy!
Other than that - I’ve always liked to maintain fitness and exercise is so critical in my week.
How do you get inspired and what are you looking forward to in this role?
ACDPA is a group that collaborates for better health outcomes. Our opportunity is to harness the power of these five organisations to make change.
We have a unique chance to change the course of health across Australia. To shift the dial towards prevention.
Helping Australians achieve better health can only be inspiring.
Any final comments?
I want to thank our past Chair Sharon McGowan (CEO, Stroke Foundation) for her leadership these past years and I look forward to building on those efforts.
Find out more about ACDPA and our members.