NSW will introduce a mandatory code of conduct and a new retirement village ‘Ambassador’ under a range of reforms announced by Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Matt Kean this week.
The changes follow an extensive inquiry into the sector by Kathryn Greiner AO which was announced after the ABC and Fairfax Media launched a highly-publicised investigation into village fees and contracts.
They include improved disclosure of contract terms such as exit fees; better dispute resolution services for residents; and measures to clarify responsibilities for maintenance costs.
As we covered here, the NSW Government already introduced an online calculator to help residents and families understand the cost of retirement villages last year.
Village residents the winners
While the measures will only apply to NSW residents, it appears the other states will follow suit.
Just a day after the NSW announcement, Victoria’s Liberal Nationals promised to set up a retirement village ombudsman if they are elected in November.
A new national Code of Conduct for retirement villages is also being established – and you can have your say on it.
The Retirement Living Council, which is part of the Property Council of Australia, is asking for public feedback on the voluntary set of standards which will cover all aspects of village life from signing the contract and moving in to re-selling the home.
Once finalised, the three peak bodies for village operators; the Property Council, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) will be encouraging their members to commit to the code.
Both are welcome moves. We recently received a message from a former retirement village resident expressing concern that the system favours the operator – we hope these initiatives will go some way to restoring trust and transparency.
You can read the draft Retirement Living Code of Conduct and provide comments here until Friday 20 July.