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COTA Policy Forum

On the 10th June the COTA National Policy Forum discussed the issues relating to Affordable, Accessible and Appropriate Housing for Older Australians.

Secure housing is fundamental to wellbeing. The great majority of older Australians want to remain living independently in their own homes for as long as possible. Appropriate housing — whether it be in the form of retirement living, Homeshare arrangements or “right sizing” — has great public and private benefits because it enables independent living, social connection and active lifestyles. This not only reduces the budgetary costs of health care and aged care, but, most importantly of all, it improves the wellbeing of older Australians and enables them to lead more flourishing lives, which is the most important policy aim of all. The forum discussed current issues, potential policy responses, and the need to plan ahead as the number of older people under housing stress is predicted to increase in the coming decades. To access the presentations from the forum you can go to COTA Australia website

RETIREMENT LIVING

You may have seen the Four Corners Program on the 26th June regarding residents’ concerns about retirement villages and subsequent media coverage.

COTA Victoria has been working with Housing for the Aged Action Group, Residents of Retirement Villages Victoria and Consumer Action Law Centre to campaign for change in response to the Parliamentary Inquiry on Retirement Housing recommendations released in March 2017. A forum was held recently with over a hundred residents of retirement villages and key organisations calling for changes to retirement housing laws. A subsequent retirement housing expert’s forum agreed:

  • reform of retirement housing regulation and dispute resolution in Victoria is needed;
  • if changes are not made, there is likely to be negative consequences for both residents and industry;
  • any review of the Retirement Villages Act should be evidence-based and involve thorough consultation with relevant stakeholders (including for-profit and not-for profit village residents and operators) ;
  • a successful review of the Retirement Villages Act would see improved consumer protections and dispute resolution processes, while maintaining the growth and viability of the sector;
  • an advocacy service and ombudsman-like scheme is necessary to improve dispute resolution in the retirement housing sector;
  • reform is needed to ensure that exit fees are fair (e.g. based on the purchase price rather than sale price) and transparent.
  • residents should be able to easily compare retirement housing options, and be supported to age-in-place if they wish to do so.

COTA Australia has also called for Federal intervention, and Minister Wyatt has asked his Department to examine the laws covering retirement villages.

DESIGN PARTNERS SOUGHT TO IMPROVE THE AGED CARE SYSTEM

COTA (Council on the Ageing) exists to advance the rights, needs and interests of Australians as we age. We believe that ageing in Australia should be a time of possibility, opportunity and influence.

Would you like to influence the design and quality of aged and community care services in Victoria and Australia? Do you have experience of navigating the aged care system for yourself or a family member or friend? Do you have ideas for improving the aged care system?

Register with us as a design partner and we will contact you when:

  • Governments are seeking the views of older Australians on policy or service design
  • Other organisations want to hear about your experiences of the aged care system
  • COTA is considering ways to support better access to information and services and would like partners to help co-design these new ways of working.

To register you can call us on 9654 4443 or visit our website at www.cotavic.org.au

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2 Responses to COTA Policy Forum

  1. Elaine Forde says:

    I really hope COTA can address this issue with both State and Federal Parliaments, a review is definitely needed, not just in Queensland, but here in Victoria. The different ‘rules and regulations’ set out by owners is confusing and yes, I believe exit fees should be on the purchase price and not the sale price. All other items listed by the experts at the forum are also in need of clarification.
    Many thanks for the opportunity to comment – I have also been in touch with my State and Federal members re this issue.
    Elaine Forde

  2. Hi Elaine,
    Thank you for your comment. That is great that you have been in touch with your state and federal members on the issue of retirement housing. COTA’s CEO Ronda Held recently did an interview with ABC radio and discussed the confusing and complexity in contracts. We are arguing strongly for this to be simplified and for lawyers to also be trained in understanding retirement village contracts. We strongly support complete transparency on exit fees. This whole area needs to be looked at. Some residents believe there should be no exit fees. Others believe this should be paid for upfront (where possible). Others feel that these should be capped and every year, you should receive a statement that tells you very clearly what your exit fee is. Whilst there is some variation on the solution – there is universal agreement that the current system is unfair and needs to be changed as it is financially exploitative. We are considering this feedback from residents and will keep people informed of what the government intends to do.

    Have a nice day!

    COTA Team