Current & Recent Activities

Review of Retirement Villages Act – have your say

Recently the Government of Victoria announced the long-awaited Review of the Retirement Villages Act.  Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) will be managing the review. To kick-start the review, CAV has released an Issues Paper outlining the key issues under consideration and called for submissions.  This is your chance to tell CAV what you believe is working well and what needs improving.

Here is a comment from Marlene Kairouz MP, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation:
All Victorians have the opportunity to contribute to this important review which is launched with the release of this Issues Paper and I encourage them to participate by going to the Engage Victoria website for more information.

The closing date for submissions is Friday 6 December 2019.

Getting involved and having your say
CAV and the department invite your views and comments in response to this Issues Paper. The paper poses questions you can respond to or use as a guide to write a submission. Until Friday 6 December 2019 you can provide your response to the paper in a number of ways:

Online at:        Engage Victoria
In addition to responding to the full issues paper, the website will also allow you to respond to six specific topics as an alternative to responding to all of the issue raised by the full Issues Paper.

By email:         rvreview@justice.vic.gov.au

By post:           Retirement Villages Act Review
Consumer Affairs Victoria,  GPO Box 123,  Melbourne VIC 3001

Your submission may be as short or as long as you like.
Note: Unless you label your submission as confidential, your submission or its contents may be made publicly available in this and any subsequent review process. Submissions may be subject to Freedom of Information and other laws. Consumer Affairs Victoria reserves the right to not publish information that could be seen to be defamatory or discriminatory.

As part of CAV’s Issues Paper consultation, it is running three community forums. These provide a further opportunity for you to contribute to the review.

Geelong – Tuesday 12 November 2019
Geelong RSL (50 Barwon Heads Road, Belmont): Function Room
Registration: 9.45am, Forum: 10.30am to 12.30pm Register at Eventbrite

Shepparton – Friday 15 November 2019
Shepparton RSL (88 Wyndham Street, Shepparton): Lone Pine Room
Registration: 9.45am, Forum: 10.30am to 12.30pm Register at Eventbrite

Melbourne CBD – Friday 22 November 2019
The Assembly Hall Building (156 Collins Street, Melbourne):
Werner Brodbeck Hall
Registration: 9.45am, Forum: 10.30am to 12.30pm Register at Eventbrite

To access a copy of the Issues Paper, have your say, or register for a community forum, visit Engage Victoria.

Please help RRVV to make improvements to this Act. In doing so you will be assisting all residents to enjoy our villages.


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Increase in Service Fees for 2019-2020 Financial Year

Section 38AA of the Retirement Villages Act determines the extent to which operators may increase fees without the approval of residents.  It does this by reference to the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Melbourne published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Any increases above the consumer price index increase, without approval of residents, can only be made by reference to Section 38(5) of the Act.

The relevant CPI increase for the year under review is determined by dividing the sum of the index numbers for each of the quarters in the current financial year by the sum of the index numbers for each of the quarters in the previous financial year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics does not release the June quarter CPI figures until mid-July so most operators use the index numbers for the year ending 31 March. This enables introduction of the new fees from the beginning of the following financial year.

Below is a table showing all the relevant index numbers for the years ending 31 March 2018 and 2019 to use to help you calculate your village’s threshold fee increase for the financial year commencing 1st July 2019.

Quarter Melbourne CPI
June 18 113.8
Sept. 18 114.0
Dec 18 114.6
Mar 19 114.7
Total 457.1
Jun 17 111.0
Sept. 17 111.5
Dec. 17 112.3
Mar 18 113.3
Total 448.1

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 6401.0 released 24 April 2019

The total of the index numbers for the year to 31 March 2019 (457.1) is 2.00% higher than the corresponding numbers for the year to 31 March 2018 (448.1). Therefore, Village operators are entitled to increase residents’ fees by this percentage from 1st July 2019. If the operator wishes to increase fees by more than the 2%, then residents must approve such increase either in the form of a majority vote at a residents meeting or a resolution of the residents committee.

As described above, Section 38(5) of the Act does permit operators to increase service fees by more than the above 2% without residents’ approval but only where that increase is caused by increases in:

  1. Rates, taxes or charges in respect of retirement village land or the use of a retirement village land levied under an Act or subordinate instrument; or
  2. Salaries or wages paid in accordance with an award made by a Commission, Tribunal, Board or other body under-
  • An Act other than this Act: or
  • A Commonwealth Act –

If the salaries or wages are paid to a manager or a person employed in connection with the retirement village.

For a sample calculation demonstrating how Section 38(5) works Click Here.


Australian Retirement Village Accreditation Scheme

In February 2019 the Retirement Living Council and Leading Age Services Australia published their draft Retirement Village Accreditation Scheme. The purpose of the scheme is to certify the quality of village services and operational processes. RLC and LASA are inviting comments on the draft document from village residents and the retirement village industry.

Comments can be sent by email to retirementliving@propertycouncil.com.au or mailed to:

Retirement Living Accreditation
Property Council of Australia
Level 7, 136 Exhibition St
Melbourne VIC 3000

by Friday 12 April 2019.

RRVV encourages members to read the draft scheme and send in their comments. In the meantime, as mentioned in the March 2019 edition of our Newsletter, the RRVV president has written the following letter to the chairman of the committee responsible for the  draft scheme, setting out RRVV’s views and recommendations:

[Letter begins]

Please see the attached document, RRVV recommended objectives for ARVAS”.  In developing these recommendations, RRVV relied heavily on contributions from seven of our members we recognise as opinion leaders and having relevant experience. 

These opinion leaders expressed a variety of views and raised a wide range of questions in addition to proposing specific objectives.  There were some clear themes in their additional contributions.  

Resident engagement   

Resident engagement is perhaps the most contentious of the themes.  The contributors observed that the peak bodies and RRVV seem to have quite different views.   Please see the attached document Good practice for resident engagement in the development and ongoing review of retirement living accreditation scheme”.

RRVV’s views have their origin in the conviction that retirement village residents are stakeholders in the businesses of the operators of their villages and in the villages they live in, and that stakeholder engagement is good for business. 

Residents qualify as stakeholders because:

  • In most cases, they contribute the capital employed in their villages
  • They are customers of their village’s operator
  • Their village is their home giving them a powerful emotional stake in it its facilities and operations.

Several of the contributors noted that the Retirement Living Code of Conduct seemed to exhibit a confused understanding on the part of the peak bodies as to who the stakeholders are.  There is one reference indicating residents are stakeholders but numerous examples of the expression “residents and stakeholders” suggesting that residents are not.  The contributors suggest amending “residents and stakeholders” to read “residents and other stakeholders”.  I have a hunch the other stakeholders would see this as a slight.   They should not be surprised that resident opinion leaders see “residents and stakeholders” as a slight.

RRVV is currently in the final stages of negotiating its 2019 partnership agreement with Consumer Affairs Victoria.  This agreement recognises RRVV’s stakeholder status, details the nature of the relationship, goals, an engagement program largely based on roundtable meetings and the scope of ad hoc interactions.   RRVV proposes that the ARVAS committee consider a similar agreement with RRVV.    This idea is not new. Some years ago Mary Wood, the then RLC Executive Director, proposed a similar agreement between the RLC and all six residents’ associations, but the final document contained motherhood statements rather than anything practical.  It was quickly forgotten.  

Recognise that retirement villages are unique

 Both Lifemark and IRCAS appear to be derivatives of other schemes rather than schemes tailor made to the unique requirements of retirement living.  Accordingly, RRVV recommends rejecting Lifemark and IRCAS as models for ARVAS. 

Focus on known areas of underperformance 

Lifemark has 5 categories, 26 standards and 87 pieces of evidence.  IRCAS has 4 categories, 10 standards, 22 criteria and 75 indicators.  How relevant is all of this to residents?  If the complaints our members bring to our attention are any guide, neither Lifemark nor IRCAS covers the quality issues of greatest importance to residents.  Are the schemes too broad to be effective?  RRVV believes they probably are.

RRVV members with relevant experience suggest that Australian businesses do not make full use of the information contributed by customers who complain.  Owners and operators of retirement villages are no exception.  Accordingly, RRVV recommends:

  • Basing at least a third of the standards on residents’ complaints
  • Making complaints analysis one of the main drivers of continuous improvement under the scheme

Both the Lifemark and IRCAS standards documents (particularly IRCAS) have something of the flavour of a management primer.    RRVV believes that radically improved management training as a prerequisite for accreditation would allow the scheme to focus more directly on performance and responsiveness to residents.

Introducing and maintaining the scheme at the village level

 Some of our opinion leaders reported that their villages achieved accreditation without any resident involvement and that there has been no resident involvement in any review of scheme effectiveness in their villages (if there was such a review).   RRVV acknowledges that not all villages have residents willing and able to participate in the process of achieving accreditation.  Nevertheless, accreditation provides an opportunity for management and willing residents (not just residents’ committee members) to work and learn together.

Village service levels vary across time reflecting the available funding, the changing needs and wants of residents and the changing business and social environments in which villages operate.  RRVV believes that ARVAS must recognise this variability and guarantee residents the opportunity to shape changes in service levels.

Facilities rating

 Some of our opinion leaders noted that prospective residents searching for a retirement village do not have access to independent information on village facilities.  They propose something like the star system used for hotels and motels.

Overlapping accreditation schemes

 A couple of our contributors queried the wisdom of covering areas covered by other accreditation schemes.  Take food safety as an example. Both contributors pointed out their municipal council runs a food safety scheme that includes regular audits by the local food safety inspector.  

RRVV remains keen to meet with you and your committee.

Lawrie Robertson, President, Residents of Retirement Villages Victoria

[End of Letter]


Online Retirement Village Cost Calculator

Macquarie University has made available an online retirement village calculator to enable retirees to estimate and compare the costs of moving into a retirement village.

The calculator, developed by Associate Professor Tim Kyng of the Faculty of Business & Economics, estimates the relative costs of different retirement village contracts – allowing potential residents to compare contracts and their features.

Professor Kyng developed the calculator after having his own frustrating experience while assisting his mother in choosing between retirement villages.

The retirement village calculator project was funded by a grant from Financial Literacy Australia.

To find out more, click on the button:

Retirement Village Cost Calculator


Electricity Supplies in Retirement Villages

Thank you to those members who told us about their views and experiences of their electricity suppliers, in response to RRVV’s request. This information was sought to provide input to a number of consultation meetings held with the Essential Services Commission during 2018, regarding the regulation of electricity sellers in embedded networks in retirement villages, apartment buildings, caravan parks, etc. Members’ responses indicate that about half the retirement village residents in Victoria are supplied with electricity by village operators via so-called “embedded networks”.

The commission recently introduced new legislation to ensure that village residents and other customers supplied via embedded networks have similar protections to other energy consumers. The new rules require village operators who sell electricity to residents to:

  • make sure they get a resident’s consent to an electricity selling arrangement
  • provide a separate bill with specific details to each resident
  • ensure that information provided to residents is clear
  • offer assistance to residents who have difficulty paying electricity bills
  • follow rules for disconnecting residents including those with life support equipment.

The commission has published a fact sheet which you can download: Information for Customers Living in Retirement Villages. RRVV advises members who are supplied with electricity by their village operator  – via an ‘embedded network’ – to check with their manager that the village is registered with the Essential Services Commission for the supply and sale of electricity.

On the important subject of electricity prices, research conducted by RRVV indicates that  residents in villages with embedded networks pay on average the same rate per kWh as retail customers in the same area but less in daily supply charges. Details on page 7 of the December 2018 edition of the RRVV Newsletter.