HAAG recommends to increase social housing stock, income support, engagement with communities affected by poverty, to address systemic gender inequality, develop a national agenda for older people and a implement a nationally consistent construction code to make housing accessible and adaptable to climate change.

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There is ample evidence to demonstrate that the Aged Care service systems are not adequately meeting the needs of older people, especially those retiring into poverty, or experiencing housing or homelessness issues. Considering this, there is a clear need to ensure the rights of those who are experiencing additional challenges or are likely to experience disadvantage should be core part of a new Inspector-General’s role.

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The draft of proposed amendments to the Retirement Villages Act bill fails to address many concerns raised by and on behalf of residents, in particular around management standards and fairer fees. The bill allows the most exploitative and predatory operators to continue to operate according to ‘churn’ business models where they are incentivised to maintain high turnover rates by systematically pressuring residents to leave once their exit fees reach their maximum value. The bill abandons the concept of a rights-based framework in favour of vague unenforceable ‘principles’. Overall, the bill simply fails to address serious public concerns about exploitative business practices in the retirement village industry, much less the concerns expressed by the many residents who have made submissions to this review.

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The new Federal Government has committed to developing a National Housing and Homelessness Plan with the support and assistance of key stakeholders, including States and Territories, local government, not-for-profit and social organisations, industry bodies, superannuation funds and other experts in housing, finance and urban development. HAAG is  calling for ambitious targets along with genuine consultation of older people with lived experience of housing stress and homelessness.

Submissions to the Review of the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement that reflect the actual experiences and words of women who live with housing stress, insecurity and homelessness as part of the Housing Older Womens Movement

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The Ageing on the Edge NSW Forum is calling on the NSW government to:

  1. Fund a specialist older person’s housing information and support service that comprises both an early intervention and crisis response, similar to the HAAG Home at Last model in Victoria.
  2. Lower the priority age for social housing eligibility from 80 years as a matter of urgency.
  3. Build 5,000 social and affordable homes per year for 10 years, at least 20% of which should be dedicated to older people.

PDF icon Read our submission to the parliamentary inquiry here

Australia’s housing system is failing people experiencing disadvantage, particularly older people who are falling through the cracks. The existing policy frameworks are inadequately equipped to support people at risk of homelessness and there is a clear need for national leadership through a National Housing Strategy to develop and deliver sustainable solutions that are properly resourced.

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HAAG and Older Womens Network NSW's input into the Draft National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-2032. We provide recommendations to adress domestic violence, elder abuse and homelessness amongst older women. This submission is endorsed by Domestic Violence NSW (DVNSW).

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HAAG supports an explicit objective in the regulatory system to protect and safeguard the interests of current, prospective and future tenants. We note that there is tension between the practical application of putting “tenants in the centre” in the broader context of a housing policy direction focussed on transfer of stock and redevelopment of public housing. While this independent review of social housing regulation is occurring, Homes Victoria is simultaneously relocating existing public housing tenants from their homes under the public housing renewal program. Those tenants are not “at the centre” of this decision, and the practical aim of applying this approach is questionable in a context where tenants feel powerless in the face of the decisions made by government to move them out of their communities and into an uncertain future.

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Based on widespread consultation with older people and the community sector , the Ageing on the Edge Forum has developed policy recommendations that are critical to addressing the needs of older people facing housing stress and homelessness in NSW.

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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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