Current & Recent Activities

Letter from Tasmania

Aunty Bee (late of the Beehive) has written to us:

I now live in Cygnet a tiny town in southern Tasmania.  I moved here from a Melbourne retirement village approximately seven months ago.  My daughter and her husband live in Judbury – an even tinier town in southern Tasmania approximately a half hour drive from Cygnet.

The last two weeks have been very stressful for us all as bushfires raged over southern Tasmania – at one stage with a fire front over 400 km long.  I have always thought when huge bushfires have occurred at times all over Australia – how awful – but only in an abstract way, as I had never been threatened by a bushfire.

What a difference the actual experience is.

My daughter and her husband love their home – their first home – set in 2.5 acres of stunningly beautiful land with breathtaking views and with the Huon River running along the bottom of their land.

First, the Tasmanian Fire Service website rated the Judbury fire as “Advice” meaning there was a fire in the vicinity.  Then the fire service increased the rating to “Watch and Act”.  We were glued to the website and the ABC in Hobart .  Finally, the Tasmanian Fire Service issued an “Emergency” warning.

They had to leave.  They could not safely defend their home.

They were distraught.  They came to me in Cygnet.  Two adults, two large dogs, a cat and all the possessions they could not bear to lose.  It felt to them like they were abandoning a family member.

Their thoughts were everywhere:

There were tears

There was anger

There was fear

 

Their home

Their first home

The home they worked so hard to buy

May burn down

 

It is not fair!

Why doesn’t it rain?

Why isn’t something done about climate change?

The massive fire loomed

There was ash everywhere

The firefighters were exhausted

The sky was dark with smoke

Any good fortune for them meant misfortune for others.

It was awful.

What can you say to your daughter when this happens?  Nothing.

Today, a fortnight later, my daughter and her family and animals are back in their home.  Today the Tasmanian Fire Service rated Judbury as “Advice” again – the lowest rating.  Their relief is palpable.

Life can be strange.  If I had remained in my retirement village in Melbourne, I would have been frantically worried.  As it was, I could be there for them.  A great gift for me.

Our profound gratitude goes to the firefighters many of whom chose to leave their families to help others and to the thousands of volunteers who supported the firefighters.


Retirement Living Council Code of Conduct

On 14 December 2018 the national peak bodies representing retirement living – the Retirement Living Council (RLC) and Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) – published their “Retirement Living Code of Conduct” following a period of consultation. To read the Code Click Here.

With the assistance of a wide range of contributions from members, the RRVV Committee reviewed a draft consultation version of this Code in August 2018 and found it:

  • Had self-serving statements of purpose and objectives that are more about benefiting owners and operators than residents;
  • Made no clear ethical commitments;
  • Did little to strengthen residents’ freedoms, rights and protections;
  • Contravened the Retirement Villages Act 1986 (Vic);
  • Did little to minimise the problems residents experience;
  • Did not acknowledge that there is dubious practice in the sector and does not commit to taking corrective action;
  • Proposed to set up an alternative dispute resolution system that would be expensive and not able to make binding determinations, and offered no support for the ombudsman that RRVV advocates and which is supported by the Retirement Living Council’s 8 Point Plan;
  • Proposed a supervisory committee dominated by owners and operators (this approach has parallels with the police investigating police malpractice);
  • Allowed code signatories to certify their own compliance with the code and did not apply strong sanctions for code non-compliance.

We invite RRVV members to take part in the following poll:


“Do you agree with the Code of Conduct recently introduced by the Retirement Living Council?

(Click Here for a copy of the Code)

8 votes · 8 answers
Vote

For a copy of RRVV’s letter to the peak bodies regarding the consultation draft, Click Here.


RRVV Planner for 2019

To download a copy of the 2019 planner, please click Here.


 Service Fee Increases for 2018/19

The extent to which operators of retirement villages can increase their service fees or “maintenance charge” without reference to residents is limited to 2.19% for the current financial year (1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019). Read More


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 Dr 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.

Dr 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.


 Inquiry into the Retirement Housing Sector

A copy of the report of the Government inquiry into retirement housing is available by clicking the following button.

Final Report

The Committee received 766 submissions including many from our members, as well as a submission from the RRVV. Click on the blue button to read these submissions:

Read Submissions

Of the 15 recommendations made, RRVV is targetting four:

  1. A free and expert dispute resolution service with the power to make binding determinations that owners and operators cannot appeal – an ombudsman or similar (Recommendation 15)
  2. Mandatory village accreditation with minimum standards (Recommendation 11)
  3. A comprehensive review of the Retirement Villages Act – not just a patch
    up (Recommendation 2)
  4. Independent formal training of village managers and key staff at a level commensurate with responsibility (Recommendation 12)

Council Rates

Property Council Rates PostcardThe Property Council – the peak body for operators of retirement villages – is conducting a campaign to persuade local councils to introduce differential rates for retirement villages. If you are asked to fill in one of these postcards (on left), please do so, and make sure they are sent to as many councillors as possible. In this way, the RRVV and its members can keep this important issue alive and hopefully bring it o a successful conclusion.

The RRVV supports the Property Council in its endeavours to achieve a rate reduction for all retirement village residents.


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