Get retirement village reforms right

Property Council WA Executive Director Sandra Brewer said the industry is delighted to be a part of the review of the Retirement Village Act 1992 but warned against rushing changes or creating further complexity.

Changes to the Retirement Village Act 1992 have been mooted for almost a decade but the industry has been given only eight weeks to respond to the first of six major discussion papers.

"The retirement village industry in Western Australia has an important role in our community," Ms Brewer said.

"Approximately 70% of operators are not-for-profits caring for thousands of older West Australians.

"The first paper is more than 100 pages with another five to follow. We are wondering whether this indicates there’s too much regulation of an industry that is doing a good job of housing older people.

"We haven’t had time to look at the detail but will meet with providers and residents before we respond formally.

"Choosing where to live isn’t just a financial decision. For many older Australians, wellbeing and lifestyle is just as important. Retirement Villages may offer services such as hair salons, bowling greens, swimming pools and bowling clubs.

"Retirement Villages have a strong record of providing health and wellbeing benefits for residents. For people living in Villages, there’s strong evidence that they experience fewer GP visits and shorter hospital stays. This is because Villages are purpose built to take care of people as they age.

"Most people who move into a village have done their homework and are very happy with the decision that they have made.

"Moving into a Retirement Village is a big decision and the industry has been working hard to bring in initiatives to give people clarity, including ‘The Little Book of Wise Moves’ which simply explains the proposition.

"The industry has also developed a clear Code of Conduct. This requires operators to encourage potential residents to seek their own financial and legal advice before signing a contract. Operators won’t sign a contract until residents have sought legal and financial advice or have expressly demonstrated that they have been given that opportunity."

"The current Act is very prescriptive, and the industry has been working hard improve understanding and simplicity.

"We want to ensure the review creates clarity not further confusion.

"It is crucial that we get the right outcomes because unintended consequences could have a serious impact on peoples' lives."

For more information on the Retirement village law reforms please click here.

To provide feedback to help form Property Council's submission please contact WA Deputy Executive Director, Michael Britton.