More than six months after Kathryn Greiner delivered the report from the inquiry she led into the NSW Retirement Village sector to the Hon. Matt Kean MP, the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation has now responded and confirmed that significant reforms will be introduced.
The updated regulation is a mandate for the retirement living sector to act on concerns raised by the Australian community and the media. While focused on NSW, other states are taking note and the ripple effects are likely to spread across the nation.
In his media release, Minister Kean highlighted their priorities for reforms that will put customers first.
Implementing a mandatory Code of Conduct
This will standardise and clarify the performance and conduct expected of village managers and operators, stamping out ‘unscrupulous behaviour’. It will also bring in penalties for failures to comply.
Introducing strong transparency measures & clarity of responsibility
These will ensure improvements in contracts, disclosure of exit fees, and understanding of who will cover the ongoing costs of maintenance. This transparency is essential to nurture confidence across the industry as it recovers from severe media scrutiny. Furthermore, these measures are expected to drive competition across the sector as it grows and welcomes Australia’s ageing population.
Better services for dispute resolution
Residents groups have welcomed this initiative, which seeks to minimise the potential for disputes to arise in the first place and also provide support when disputes do arise. Importantly, there will be intermediate mediation for disputes before going to the tribunal.
Appointing a Retirement Village Ambassador to advocate on behalf of residents & report back on key issues
This is an alternative to the introduction of an ombudsman, which many submissions to the Inquiry called for. The report explains that to some extent, the ‘ombudsman’ role is already fulfilled by Fair Trading. They will certainly have an important role as more details of the reforms emerge.
Read the full report from the Inquiry into the NSW Retirement Village Sector here, and come along to the Policy, Regulation & Community Engagement National Conference in Sydney on the 29th & 30th of August to hear directly from the Hon. Matt Kean MP, Kathryn Greiner, and NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rose Webb.