Latest industry developments Things to watch Village Operator

New retirement village regulations in every state: operational and compliance costs to rise in 2022


Asset management plans will continue to be the dominant regulatory issue for village operators with July set down as the start date of penalties for operators that fail to meet their AMP requirements.

As we have reported, the legislation – a by-product of the Greiner inquiry – requires operators to prepare and keep up-to-date a 10-year asset management plan for the village’s major items of capital (including items shared with other villages or aged care businesses) plus a three -year report for the maintenance of major items of capital to be made available to current and prospective residents.

Even larger operators are expected to be challenged to locate and record their villages’ assets within the required timeframe.

And while the NSW State election is not scheduled until March 2023, retirement village legislation is likely to be back on the political agenda by the end of the year after playing a key role in the Liberals’ campaign last time around.


Victorian operators will also face significant anxiety this year following the Victorian Government’s release of an Options Paper on the review of its Retirement Villages Act in November 2021.

As we covered here, the Retirement Living Council expressed concerns that many of the changes would lead to increased costs for residents and operators.

While Victoria already has mandated buybacks and the Aged Care Rule in place, operators have voiced worries about Victoria following NSW on AMPs and a potential requirements for village managers to be trained with an RTO-style certification, similar to a property manager.

The key issue however are the operational costs of this added compliance – such as renewing contracts and updating policies and procedures – and the time required for staff to manage compliance.

With a State election scheduled for November 2022, there may also be some ‘grand-standing’ by both the Liberals and Labor to attract the older vote as they look to secure office.

South Australia:

South Australian operators are also looking at a considerable increase in compliance and its associated costs following the SA Government’s tabling in Parliament of a report on the outcomes of the latest Review of the Retirement Villages Act.

The report contains 60 recommendations and the SA regulator has indicated around three-quarters of the measures are expected to be implemented in some form.

While exit entitlements are not a focus of the report, the recommendations will again lead to an increased level of compliance for operators, including around contracts and policies and procedures.

The State election is also set to be held around May 2022 – the same time as the Federal election – which could see the current Liberal Government look to implement greater consumer protections sooner rather than later in a push for votes.

Western Australia:

After releasing the fourth and final consultation paper in its village legislation reform process in mid-2021, West Australian operators will be waiting with trepidation for the release of Consumer Protection’s Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (DRIS) which will make recommendations to the State Government on the reform proposals.

Despite plans for 12-month buybacks being booted off the Minister’s table in December 2020, mandated buybacks remain the primary concern for village operators.

If the Government accepts the reforms, a draft Bill will need to be introduced into Parliament – meaning that any changes are not likely to come through until 2023.

However, the WA Government may choose to enact retrospective legislation, like Queensland did when it mandated buybacks with a six-month retrospective date.


Queensland operators are likely to face less turmoil this year with a review of its buyback regulations recently released and a State election not due until October 2024.

However, a new consumer website to feature village disclosure documents will mean operators will have to stay on the ball.

Covid-19 Facility Manager Village Operator

The reality of Omicron

We have heard from many of you over the break your experiences of interrupted breaks, long hours whilst you support an increase in COVID positive residents within your communities and the struggle to keep up with rapidly changing restrictions.

Some of you have been seconded into other parts of your organisations to provide much needed assistance, and many of you expressed feeling exhausted and burnt out riding the Omicron wave.

One of the common queries has been how to navigate the expectations of residents and the divide the Omicron variant is creating within your communities.

Many of you sharing where residents are not adhering or have a differing view of the current restriction requirements, or want to challenge your every communication or action, even if it has been undertaken with good intent for the whole community.

Another big challenge has been where residents are divided in their view of the seriousness or impact of the Omicron variant on the population within your retirement communities. I.e. half are wanting a cautious approach to visitors and events within the village and the others are wanting these activities to go on as normal.

I acknowledge it is a battlefield that is causing much burnout and exhaustion amongst many of you.

Omicron Village Manager checklist

In terms of coping with this and keeping an even keel during these times I thought I would offer the following considerations when dealing with these challenging situations:

  • ensure you have a good understanding of the village requirements and your organisations position on the current restriction guidelines; there are going to be many opinions/interpretations of the restrictions amongst residents
  • It is a good idea to seek legal advice as an organisation if you are considering guidelines over and above the restriction guidelines
  • It is OK to reinforce to residents challenging your actions or information that you are acting with the best knowledge and information you have at the time
  • It is also OK to remind resident that you are acting with good intent on behalf of all of the residents and explain whilst some would want full lockdown of everything, and at the other end they would like everything open, your role is to ensure the village operates within the restriction and your organisation’s guidelines
  • It is a good idea to detach any personal bias of what residents should or shouldn’t be doing (many of us are being more cautious than our residents)
  • Remember your role is to ensure that the village is operating in accordance with the restrictions and your COVID plans, primarily informing and influencing residents to accept the restriction requirements
  • If you have serious non-compliance or breach issues seek legal advice

Above all, know that you are not alone dealing with these issues and that your peers in the village down the road, in the next suburb and next state are dealing with the same issues. 

Perhaps if you can arrange a coffee/in person or virtually with a couple of Village professionals in your team or suburb to share strategies and coping mechanisms through this particularly isolating time.

Importantly, please remember you continue to play a vital and outstanding role keeping large, sometimes very vulnerable, retirement communities safe and informed. 

Thank you for your continued effort, especially on those days where you are not sure you can face it again.

Things to watch

Te Ara Institute now launching in New Zealand

First some good news. The new name and brand for our professional development collaboration with our New Zealand colleagues has been revealed.

After Māori cultural research and collaboration, the new name for their PD program is Te Ara, which means pathways. An approved Māori graphic has also been developed.

We have been talking about inviting you on tours of New Zealand villages as DCMI members when borders are easier to cross.

While we are providing our PD materials, we also have a lot to learn from New Zealand where 14% of all New Zealanders over 75 years of age live in a village.