“Thanks to the investigative work of Four Corners and Fairfax Media, the plight of older people in Retirement Villages is receiving widespread coverage”, according to Ms Ronda Held, CEO of COTA Victoria.
Since 1996, COTA Victoria has been campaigning on the treatment of residents in retirement villages. “Alongside Residents of Retirement Villages Victoria, Consumer Action Law Centre and Housing for the Aged Action Group, COTA has been calling for urgent action to regulate a growth industry that is taking advantage of a vulnerable consumer group”, according to Ms Held.
The financial exploitation of elderly people by some operators in the industry has not been addressed by successive governments. The lack of interest and response from governments is in part due to the ‘invisibility’ of older people and the barriers they face in self-advocating. Older people themselves have come together and their voices are finally being heard” said Ms Held.
Ms Held strongly urges every family and older person to watch tonight’s Four Corners program as it provides a face to the thousands of older people who have found themselves ‘trapped into contracts’ that are unfair and excessive.
“To its credit, the Victorian Parliament held an Inquiry into Retirement Housing last year (2016) and received 800 submissions. A significant number were from residents who shared their experiences of unfair contracts, high exit fees, poor complaints processes and treatment by village managers and operators”.
According to Ms Held “We know from a recent forum held with Residents of Retirement Housing in Victoria that an Independent Industry Ombudsman is the number one recommendation from the Inquiry that residents want to see. This is essential to providing a fair, independent and accessible dispute resolution process.
“Residents have told us they are fearful of making complaints as this can impact on how they are treated by village managers and operators. Life can be made more difficult when you are already feeling vulnerable”. As the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry found, accreditation and training qualifications for village managers and staff are needed.
“Both Federal and State governments need to step up and strengthen regulation of the retirement industry and improve protections for older consumers. In Victoria, it is now time to review Retirement Villages legislation and establish an Independent Industry Ombudsman.”
Ronda Held 0450 785 437
Donna Swan 0419 896 350
Lizbeth Gonzalez 0430 713 059
Download full media release Retirement Village Residents Have a Voice – Finally
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