As Western Australia faces an ageing population, the issue of housing for older Western Australians is a highly topical issue. The Property Council’s ‘Resetting Retirement Living’ breakfast provided a forum for Commissioner of Consumer Protection, Gary Newcombe, to update the industry on Consumer Protection’s focus for ongoing retirement living reforms.

Mr Newcombe acknowledged the significance of industry stakeholder engagement in providing village data that is now being reviewed by Consumer Protection and Treasury to inform consideration of mandatory exit entitlement reforms. Mr Newcombe told guests that Consumer Protection aims to put to final recommendations to the Minister for Commerce by the end of this year.

Once the report and recommendations have gone through due process, Mr Newcombe predicts that amendments to the Retirement Villages Act and associated regulations will be implemented in mid-late 2023.  Industry has already been waiting eleven years to see these amendments that follow from the Statutory Review of the Retirement Villages Legislation published on 1 November 2010.

Property Council WA Executive Director, Sandra Brewer, outlined the key reform priorities for industry, including:

  • Reforms allowing the industry to remain viable, and provide confidence to investors, operators and residents;
  • Simplified and balanced disclosure requirement that are easy for prospective residents to understand;
  • Reforms that facilitate diverse and innovative development of retirement village land, including by addressing the existing complexities around correcting and removing memorials under the Retirement Villages Act;
  • Exit entitlements considerations which reflect that 70 per cent of retirement villages in Western Australia are operated by not-for-profit providers and would experience strong financial headwinds if required to meet legislative reforms similar to those implemented in the eastern states.

Ms Brewer’s comments reflect the Second Joint Industry Submission on the Retirement Villages Act Review, which was issued to Consumer Protection on 20 September 2021 and can be found here. A key focus of industry's engagement through the Retirement Villages Act review has been to emphasise the important role that retirement villages will continue to play in offering high quality and affordable housing for older Western Australians.

The breakfast also allowed industry an opportunity to celebrate its star performers.  Steven Daly, Village Manager at Arcadia Waters Maddington, was officially presented with his WA Programmed Award for Village Manager of the Year. St Ives’ Roy Paxton was named the inaugural WA Imagine Projects Salesperson of the Year Award.

Both winners are in contention to be named the national winners of the Programmed Award for Village Manager of the Year, and Imagine Project Award for Salesperson of the year, at the National Retirement Living Awards, to be held next June on the Gold Coast.

Alyce Rae is an Associate at Corrs Chambers Westgarth and is a member of the Property Council’s WA Future Directions Committee.