VIC Retirement Housing Inquiry fails to provide access to justice
After six months the Victorian Government has responded to the Inquiry into the Retirement Housing Sector, conducted by the Victorian Legislative Council.
The Victorian Government’s response to the Parliamentary Inquiry has failed to deliver, according to retirement housing residents and advocates.
Despite nearly 800 submissions to the Inquiry and recommendations that promised meaningful reform, the pleas of residents have fallen on deaf ears, with many of the proposed reforms pushed off into more reviews.
While the Victorian Government has accepted the Inquiry’s recommendation to launch a review into the Retirement Villages Act 1986 (the Act), it has pointed to various other inquiries and reviews underway, stalling a much-needed comprehensive review of the legislation.
A review of the Act has been delayed until an unspecified date.
Of serious concern is the failure to remedy the serious problems identified in providing access to justice for the thousands of older Victorians and their families who are unable to resolve disputes with their retirement housing provider.
The Government can fix the dispute issue by creating an ombudsman for low cost, timely and binding resolution of disputes.
According the Victorian Government’s response, ‘significant further analysis and evidence are required before a position on this recommendation can be determined’.
Given the number of submissions outlining problems with dispute resolution in this sector, along with casework experience of leading community legal centres such as Consumer Action and the significant costs involved in going to court, we are surprised that further evidence is needed by the Victorian Government before it will act.
In relation to improving management training standards, the Victorian Government has left it up to industry to sort out.
The response has also failed to deliver any meaningful change to harsh exit fees which can lock people into contractual arrangements. This is wholly unacceptable.
Residents and their families will ultimately pay the price for the Victorian Government’s inaction on retirement housing reform.
23 September 2017.