The Federal Government must Incorporate Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning, fund targeted measures to increase affordable housing stock earmarked for older people, and incrementally remove Capital Gains Tax and Negative Gearing to create an equitable housing market.

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We have grave concerns about the directions outlined in this discussion paper for the future of public housing, and the potential impact on potential and current social housing tenants. The implication that the private sector or non-government sector are better at managing housing, more efficient or innovative does not align with the experiences in other jurisdictions, yet the paper is peppered with these value assumptions.

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We support the stated aim to “provide advice on harmonising resident rights under public and community housing and options to ensure effective complaints management” however, we are concerned that the directions in the consultation paper appear to erode tenant rights, by using current community housing as the benchmark, rather than public housing. We support strengthened tenancy protections for older tenants in community housing, rather than diminishing of protections for older tenants in public housing.

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Our submission calls on the NSW Government to  fund a specialist older person’s housing information and support service, lower the priority age for social housing eligibilityand build  5,000 social and affordable homes per year for 10 years, to address the older peoples housing crisis.

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The inadequacy of social security payments can have significant negative physical and mental health impacts on people and forces them to rely on community services that provide mental health, housing and homelessness, and other similar services. Increasing these payments would result in people being able to manage their expenses and, as a result, alleviate pressure on community services that are already struggling to meet the community needs.

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Across sectors, much of the legislation and policies that are meant to monitor or regulate the services provided to older people living in retirement housing options do not offer clear or adequate protections or enforcements. Given this, HAAG is in support of the Panel’s vision to provide consumers of Embedded (electricity) Networks equal protections, market access and treatment to on-market customers.

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We are encouraged to see the government’s interest in better understanding and addressing the economic inequalities that women experience. However, it is disappointing to note that focus of this inquiry on economic equity for women fails to include equal access to housing as a core issue, even though safe, affordable and adequate housing underpins all other aspects of life, in particular women’s economic independence and security.

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Older women are a fast-growing cohort of people experiencing homelessness, as found by the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into homelessness, however the unique housing needs of older people are barely acknowledged in this consultation paper, or other related policy documents including the 10 Year Strategy. HAAG’s responses to the consultation questions reflect the needs of this vulnerable and largely silenced cohort.

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The options set out in this paper show a serious lack of understanding of the issues raised by residents and other stakeholder about retirement village residencies. Retirement villages are too often unfair and exploitative. The Options Paper proceeds as if the problems were only that residents mistakenly perceived villages to be unfair and exploitative, or as if more information would resolve resident concerns. This is not the case. Again and again, the options paper proposes more information rather than increased protections for residents. This is a persistent failure of the options paper, and if the government proceeds on this basis the reform process will fail current and future retirement village residents.

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The current Retirement Villages Act Review is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overhaul the regulatory framework for retirement villages in Victoria. We have the chance to future-proof this legislation, and lead the nation in terms of retirement village regulation, which will enhance resident confidence in the sector.

We see the Options Paper as a non-definitive list of ways we can improve retirement village regulation in Victoria. We have set out our shared vision and recommendations for the review in this joint submission with the Consumer Action Law Centre, Council on the The Ageing Victoria, and Residents of Retirement Villages Victoria.

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