26 June 2018
Mathew Guy (Opposition Leader) and Heidi Victoria (Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs) announce they will establish a Retirement Housing Ombudsman if elected in November.
According to COTA Vic (CEO) Ronda Held, an independent Ombudsman is essential to providing a low cost, independent and accessible dispute resolution process for older people to access. This announcement is welcomed by many older Victorians who have campaigned long and hard to have access to justice and basic consumer protections.
Despite the findings from the 2017 Parliamentary Inquiry into Retirement Housing, there has been no decisive government action on key recommendations.
An Industry Ombudsman will also be able to monitor, investigate and report on issues such as unfair contracts, high exit fees and poor treatment by village managers and operators.
“We know from residents of retirement housing that an Independent Industry Ombudsman is the number one reform they want government action on. Residents have shared their experiences and concerns through forums and in testifying at the Parliamentary Inquiry. Their stories on a lack of respect, bullying, no effective dispute resolution, excessive fees and poor management practices have been told repeatedly”.
According to Ms Held “Residents have described feeling intimidated and afraid to make complaints. If they do pursue a complaint, it can be costly and the outcomes are not binding. There is also no monitoring of systemic issues and problems in the industry.
“COTA Victoria calls on the Labor party to take a bipartisan approach with the Coalition and Greens and support retirement housing residents through the establishment of an Ombudsman. Improving consumer protection and increasing access to justice for older people should be supported by Labor.
For media enquiries:
Ronda Held 0450 785 437
Donna Swan 0419 896350
Lizbeth Gonzalez 0430 713 059