It’s been almost two decades since the last comprehensive review of Victoria’s Retirement Villages Act 1986. COTA Victoria, along with organisations like Housing Action for the Aged and Residents of Retirement Village Victoria, has long campaigned for improvements to the Act.
The Department of Justice and Community Safety is now reviewing the Act, with the aim of addressing problems and fostering innovation. We are on the Stakeholder Reference Group for the review. We look forward to seeing changes that balance the rights, responsibilities, and costs of retirement villages.
A snapshot of today’s retirement village industry
The retirement village industry is constantly evolving. A 2021 census from PWC and the Property Council of Australia provides a snapshot of the sector now.
Today, over half of all retirement villages are in high-rise buildings. This raises questions about fire safety, emergency management (including evacuation plans) and accessibility, especially for people with physical disabilities. And while many older people see retirement villages as an antidote to isolation, social engagement with other residents can be hard in a vertical village.
Some prospective residents may see retirement villages as a cheaper alternative to other forms of accommodation. In 2021, most villages (74%) were run ‘for profit’, and average service fees for a two-bedroom unit were $502 per month.
It’s also important to consider how easy it is to exit from a village. On average, in 2021 it took 223 days to sell a retirement village unit after vacant possession.
The relationship between retirement villages and aged care is also changing. Many residents receive home care provided by the village operator or other providers. Across Australia, 44% of retirement village residents leave to enter residential aged care. Nearly one-third of villages have residential aged care facilities co-located on the same campus. The relationship between the facilities covered by different state and Commonwealth legislation can be confusing for consumers and their families.