Retirement village review risks alienating residents and operators
Our industry has taken a strong stand on transparency and disclosure in retirement villages, so we’re struggling to understand why the State Government is not affording us the same courtesy with its retirement village review.
Despite the proliferation of housing options for older Australians, including land lease lifestyle communities, strata title villages and various incentives to stay at home, it is the retirement village sector that is most regulated and scrutinised.
The latest review by Consumer Affairs, is part two of a process started almost a decade ago. The State Government heavily regulates the retirement village sector, which is purpose built for older people. The first of six papers, released in August, was more than 100 pages. Retirement village residents, operators and industry bodies had only eight weeks to respond.
The second paper, released on December 12, is almost 200 pages.
Consumer Affairs has not established a working group including residents and industry representatives to get feedback about how the 2010 reforms are working.
The world has changed dramatically since the industry was last consulted in 2006 and 2009. We think a working group of residents and retirement village operators would provide contemporary feedback about the impact of 79 changes made between 2012 and 2016.
We are concerned that this review is unlikely to achieve its objective of ensuring consumers better understand their rights and obligations. We’re troubled by the implication that retirement village residents can devote 18 months to reading what may end up being more than 700 pages of complex, potentially outdated material.
Consumer Affairs Victoria is undergoing a similar review and has released one consumer-friendly 61-page discussion paper also canvassing the regulatory framework, entering a village, leaving a village, dispute resolution and enforcement.
The Property Council has recently joined with the Western Australian Retirement Villages Residents Association (WARVRA), Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), to ask for a simpler, more consultative review.
We strongly support retirement village resident welfare, transparency and disclosure.
West Australian retirement village operators are working overtime to create positive communities with services designed to suit older Australians.
Property Council of Australia’s Retirement Living Council, with Leading Age Services Australia, is signing retirement villages up to an enforceable code of conduct that comes into effect on January 1.
Sandra Brewer is Property Council WA Executive Director