Following her election to the Senate in 1987 she served on a number of Senate committees and held various shadow portfolios. In 1988 she was appointed as a Parliamentary Secretary and in 2001 was appointed to Cabinet and served in the Health and Social Security portfolios. She retired from Cabinet in 2006 and from the Senate in 2008.
During her time in the Senate she pursued issues affecting older Australians and fought tirelessly for the removal of the compulsory retirement age of 65 from the Australian Public Service and statutory authorities.
Initially she will champion the rights of older workers, focus on the blight of elder abuse and encourage innovative solutions to homelessness and risk of homelessness amongst older Australians.
Kay has served on a number of not-for-profit Boards and voluntary positions. She is a Director of the Brockhoff Foundation (2008-); Professorial Fellow Monash University, in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (2008-); she was a Director and Vice-President of Interplast Australia NZ (2007-2016); a member of the Board of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (2014-2016); Chaired the Victorian Ministerial Advisory Council on Homelessness (2011-2013); was involved for over 25 years in the Victorian Girl Guides as a leader, Council and Executive Member; and was a member of the Monash University Council (1978-1998). She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. In 2016 she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia.