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Retirement living inquiry announced but national regulation still needed

The announcement of an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry following ‘alarming allegations’ about contracts and fees for retirement villages, has once again lead to the topic of national regulation into retirement living being at the forefront of conversation within the sector.

Wider regulatory review of the sector is needed (Source: Shutterstock)
Wider regulatory review of the sector is needed (Source: Shutterstock)

The ACCC inquiry is investigating claims against Aveo with the ACCC Chairman being reported as saying that a wider regulatory review of the sector involving Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and state regulators was also needed.

Currently, retirement living is regulated by Australia’s individual states, something that Founder and Managing Director of Oak Tree Village Group Mark Bindon says if changed, would benefit not only consumers but also providers in the industry by offering clarity on how the industry works.

“We support the concept, it helps everyone understand the industry, provided the operators, stakeholders and residents all work together,” Mr Bindon says.

Currently Oak Tree Village Group operate under an exit fee structure as well as a capital gains sharing philosophy with no direct selling costs charged by the company.

As a provider that offers its services across a number of states, Mr Bindon and the Oak Tree Village Group know all too well the issues that arise through lack of national regulation.

“It doesn’t allow us to centralise the administrative side of the business and consumers often find the contractual processes complicated,” Mr Bindon says.

National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke has also raised concerns about the lack of regulations in the industry and says that the announced ACCC investigation is a ‘sensible step’.

"Contracts should be simplified and standardised which will allow for comparability and equip older Australians with more power and information to make a well-informed choice when selecting a provider,” Mr Henschke says.

“We should not wait till the dust settles...now is the time to reconsider a Commonwealth role, or at least standardisation of legislation across States through Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

“When it boils down to it, older Australians deserve the utmost clarity and consumer protection when they are choosing where and how they should live the latter stages of their life.”

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