Independent Voices

Collecting & recording the experiences of residents of Independent Living Units in Victoria 

Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) is launching a project to explore the experiences of residents living in not-for-profit retirement villages in the northern metropolitan area and the Loddon Mallee and Grampians regions.

At the end of February, the Victorian parliament passed a motion, brought forward by Ellen Sandell of the Green Party, to look at the legislation surrounding retirement living.  The parliamentary committee will inquire into how retirement villages operate and related legal issues including contracts, exploitative terms and conditions, and management culture. They will consider changes that would lead to improvements.

HAAG are supporting residents to have their voices heard by this committee as part of our ‘Independent Voices’ project. It is being run by new staff member Aoife Cooke, in collaboration with HAAG’s ILU Working Group, and supported by Retirement Housing Worker Shanny Gordon. There is a lack of awareness around retirement villages run on a not-for-profit basis. Usually named ‘Independent Living Units,’ or ‘ILUs’ these small groups of houses for older people are dotted around Victoria. We want to find out what it’s like to live in an ILU and whether older people feel safe, secure, and fairly treated.

HAAG is finding that low-income ILU residents in particular are approaching the organisation with stories of exploitation and mistreatment. But we are also looking to speak to residents who are satisfied with their living situation in ILUs. Older people’s housing is of growing interest to the public and we need to tell government what older people need and what’s working well.

Aoife is currently contacting local radio stations, local newspapers and HAAG members to spread the word about the project. In April, May and June, she will host group meetings, private interviews, and take photos of some units. All information gathered will be kept anonymous.  

The local government areas we will visit for the project are: Darebin; Banyule; Moreland and Yarra in the Northern Metropolitan area, and Macedon Ranges; Ballarat; Hepburn; Moorabool; Greater Bendigo; Campaspe; Mitchell; Mount Alexander and Strathbogie. If you are living in any of these areas, or have friends or family who are, and would like to get in touch about this project, please contact:

Aoife Cooke at 0416 476 640; (03) 96547389 or