This submission is based on ongoing inquiries and feedback to COTA SA, input provided in response to a call out about the review and advice from three key COTA SA advisory groups –
• Goolwa Victor Harbor Advisory Group
• Rainbow Hub Advisory Group
• Policy Council
COTA SA enjoys a close and longstanding relationship with the SA Retirement Villages Residents’ Association (SARVRA).
We have had the opportunity to view the SARVRA submission which provides detailed, thoughtful proposals based on the lived experience of almost 9000 members, about 34% of retirement village residents in SA. We commend it as a thorough outline of the issues that need to be addressed and options to address them.
The review of the Retirement Villages Act (2016) is being undertaken against a backdrop of a strong housing market which favours those selling. It is a very difficult time for people on low and fixed incomes to secure housing whether bought or rented. Demand for retirement village accommodation seems to have rebounded following COVID and is very strong. According to industry sources, demand for retirement villages exceeds supply, underlined by the fact that in March 2021, 17,348 people nationally sought information about retirement village and land lease homes against supply of 2,753.1
Retirement village accommodation offers an important housing option for older South Australians, serving about 5% of people aged over 55 at any time. The legislation that regulates the industry must strike the right balance between the rights of residents and the viability of the diverse range of private, local government and not for profit providers. Indeed, regulation serves to support consumer confidence in retirement village living as an option and mitigates against the potential for damage that poor conduct does to the reputation of retirement villages.
There is no doubt that the current Retirement Villages Act (2016) SA achieved a much-improved range of consumer protections. Notwithstanding this, there continue to be significant issues that require attention and the potential for improvements including those outlined in this submission.