We are currently at a crucial time when it comes to policies and law reform surrounding retirement housing. To clarify when we speak of retirement housing we include: Independent Living Units (ILUs), Not-For-Profit and self-funded retirement villages, caravan and residential parks and rental villages.
HAAG has been working with Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC), Council on the Ageing (COTA), Residents of Retirement Villages Victoria (RRVV) and Justice Connect for a couple of years now to push forward much needed reform in the retirement housing sector.
Along with the work undertaken over many years by HAAG’s Caravan and Residential Parks and Villages (CARPAV) and ILU working groups, and the lobbying undertaken by many of HAAGs members, a parliamentary inquiry into retirement housing was achieved.
The inquiry was completed on 1 March 2017 and investigated all the forms of housing mentioned above. The final report and recommendations were released on 7 March 2017.
A total of 766 submissions were received by the parliamentary committee responsible for conducting the inquiry, along with 90 witnesses heard at public hearings. Those that submitted responses and spoke at hearings came from industry, community organisations and from parks and villages around Victoria.
HAAG was one of organisations invited to speak at the public hearings to give evidence. Shanny Gordon, HAAG’s retirement housing worker, presented information on behalf of HAAG’s working groups to further expand on HAAG’s written submissions.
Upon the release of the report HAAG met with our partner agencies and various group members to discuss the recommendations. CALC organised a “door stop” press conference on the steps of parliament on the day of the release to highlight the importance of the recommendations and the need for ongoing work to progress this sector.
A number of HAAG staff and members attended the press conference and spoke to media about the success of the process so far and the need for a strong strategy moving forward to ensure the government acts upon the recommendations.
Those recommendations that are of particular importance to HAAG and that we have been working towards for many years include:
- A review of the Retirement Villages Act 1986,
- Clearer disclosure of ingoing fees and Deferred Management Fees (DMFs), as well as better regulation of the latter,
- Mandatory accreditation for retirement housing operators,
- Improved design of retirement housing to enable people to live independently for longer, and;
- An alternative, low cost dispute resolution process to be introduced, such as an ombudsman.
The inquiry ran alongside the review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 which also looked at caravan and residential parks, ILUs covered by the RTA and rental villages. Unfortunately the inquiry recommendations do not touch upon these and the government had not yet released an options paper about these alternative forms of tenure as they were awaiting the inquiry outcome. Now that this has occurred we can expect a release of an options paper, hopefully in the near future, that addresses these areas.
As a result of the current interest in retirement housing, and the current reforms taking place, HAAG will be holding a retirement housing forum on 1 May 2017. This will be held in conjunction with CALC, COTA and RRVV and looks to create a strong campaign strategy to ensure the inquiry recommendations are seriously considered and acted upon in future reform.
If you are interested in attending please contact Shanny Gordon on 9654 7389 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
RSVP by the 24th of April 2017