The reforms, which were released in the new Greiner Report, are based on the outcomes of the recent inquiry ordered by the NSW Government after a series of concerning reports about alleged misconduct in the sector, and led by Kathryn Greiner.
NSW Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean says the Government welcomes the Greiner Report, adding that they will take immediate action to implement the majority of the recommendations which include:
- Implementing a mandatory Code of Conduct to set the standard for retirement village operators and to stamp out unscrupulous behaviour
- Introducing strong transparency measures to improve disclosure of key contract terms, exit fees, and to drive greater competition in the sector
- Improved dispute resolution services for residents; and
- Measures to help clarify responsibilities with respect to ongoing maintenance costs
“We strongly support the Inquiry’s findings and believe that our response will go a long way in putting the power back in the hands of retirees, and their families,” Minister Kean says.
“These reforms will put consumers first, and see greater protections for residents through increased transparency, improved dispute resolution, and more certainty around costs.”
The NSW Government has announced that they will also appoint a dedicated Retirement Village Ambassador to advocate on behalf of residents, and report back on key issues; while also consulting with the sector on the potential for further reforms to improve the professionalism of operators and increase certainty of costs.
NSW Minister for Ageing Tanya Davies says there are already more than 55,000 residents living in NSW retirement villages, noting that this number will continue to “grow significantly” due to the ageing population.
“We want residents to be able to live independent and fulfilling lives in their chosen retirement village, which is why it’s incredibly important we improve our laws to increase confidence in the sector,” she says.
Aged care peak body Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) has come forward to support the NSW Government’s efforts to safeguard the rights of retirement living residents, with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sean Rooney saying they, and their retirement living Members, are committed to continuous improvement and look forward to working with the NSW Government on its areas of focus for retirement living village directors.
“These include increasing transparency of exit fees and contracts, clarifying the funding arrangements for ongoing maintenance costs which are shared between residents and operators, and providing more support when disputes arise - and reducing the potential for disputes to arise,” Mr Rooney says.
“The Greiner Review Report concluded that improvements in the requirements for industry reporting and data collection would improve Fair Trading’s oversight of the sector and that industry best practice could be more consistently applied.
“It is essential that moves in this area are streamlined and do not simply add ‘red-tape’ and unnecessary costs to the village operators or residents.”
Fellow aged care peak body Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) CEO Pat Sparrow has also shared support of the NSW Government's dedication.
“These are all common-sense steps that contribute to the transparency and trust that we in the industry and the community rely on,” Ms Sparrow says.
“All offer concrete improvements in the experience of retirement living for consumers and providers.”
Both ACSA and LASA also commend the Government’s statement recognising that the Greiner Report “also identified a large number of positive experiences by residents, managers, operators and the industry at large, who requested minor changes only and are otherwise satisfied with their time in the village”.