Retirement Villages Act failing to protect seniors

Greens spokesperson for Seniors and Ageing Hon Alison Xamon MLC has today called for urgent and long overdue reform to the Retirement Villages Act, to ensure better protections for Western Australian seniors.

Speaking in Parliament, Ms Xamon said too many seniors had been subject to unfair practices including complicated contracts; mismanagement; discrepancies between the rights of village owners and residents; excessive fees, and inadequate or lengthy complaints resolution processes.   

She said there was often little to no recourse, indicating that the Retirement Villages Act 1992 was effectively failing.

“There were 484 inquiries made to Consumer Protection in 2017-18, resulting in 84 complaints investigated, but none of the investigations resulted in any disciplinary action,” Ms Xamon said.

“It’s clear there is a pressing need for further action.”

Ms Xamon said the Act was reviewed in 2002 and again in 2010 but the implementation of recommendations had been slow.

She said the findings of the 2010 review were intended to be dealt with in two amendment bills, but only one of these was ever dealt with by the Parliament.

“The second bill was intended to deal with more complex issues and dramatically improve protections for residents by redefining definitions; the creation of a village register, and changes to contracts and financial protections,” Ms Xamon said.

“Because the bill did not eventuate, the desperate need for reform remains.

Ms Xamon said issues relating to retirement villages had been highlighted time and time again by seniors and their representative organisations including COTA WA and the WA Retirement Village Residents Association.

She said it was crucial the Government acted now to reform the Act to ensure protections for WA seniors now and into the future.

“There are clearly significant gaps in protections for older people and these problems will impact on more Western Australians as the population ages.”