Latest industry developments

A reflection on those who served, and continue to serve

I have been blessed to have visited and worked in many retirement villages across Australia, and for more than two decades I have witnessed firsthand the significance of Anzac Day for our residents.

It is a time when they connect with their personal history and experiences, and for many, it holds a special place in their hearts.

I have met many residents over the years who have served in wars or had family members who did. They share their stories with me, and I see the pride and emotion in their eyes as they talk about their service to our country.

Working with Village Managers and residents, I have seen the joint efforts made to ensure Anzac Day remains significant in their community. From commemorative services to outings to local events and Dawn Services, everyone comes together to honour and pay respect to those who have sacrificed, served, and continue to serve our country.

As someone who has never fought in a war, I may not fully comprehend the experiences and sacrifices made by our servicemen and women. However, I can take a moment to reflect, recognize and honour their sacrifices in the company of our residents and within our wider community.

On this Anzac Day, let us remember and pay our respects to those who have served our country.

Lest we forget.

Latest industry developments

Act or face the consequences

Expect to see occupancy rates up, unit prices to have risen and revenue at record levels when the new Property Council Retirement Census is released in June. However, there are dark clouds on the horizon with Retirement Village Acts facing amendments in QLD, SA, VIC and WA with the subject of exit entitlements and extra safeguards for residents front and centre.

Daniel Gannon, the Retirement Living Council Executive Director, is travelling the country to try and represent its members and Paul Murphy, Principal Advisor – Retirement Living and Seniors Housing, Aged & Community Care Providers Association, is representing ACCPA. In today’s The Weekly SOURCE, we publish the latest from Russell Kennedy Lawyers on the proposed changes to the Victoria Retirement Villages Act.

“The Bill significantly re-writes the Retirement Villages Act 1986 (Vic) and makes many fundamental changes across all stages of the resident’s journey through a village,” lawyers Rosemary Southgate and Donna Rayner state.

Retirement village operators need to act as there are likely to be substantial changes unless representation is made and made well. As Daniel told me, if retirement villages become unviable then the capital for development will go elsewhere.

In February, the Retirement Living Council (RLC) said it had 80 members, representing about 771 villages. There are 2436 villages in Australia (IBIS World 2023), so Daniel needs more clout behind him to say he is representing the sector.

For the sector to evolve, it needs representation at the highest level. It helps to have a strong membership.

Facility Manager Latest industry developments

The Royce Ambassador Royce Simmons starts “Big Walk” from BaptistCare Kintyre Living

BaptistCare Kintyre Living in Dubbo, in NSW’s Central West, laid on a BBQ and serenaded The Royce Ambassador Royce Simmons and fellow rugby league greats Brad Fittler and Andrew Farrer on the former Penrith Panthers’ captain’s 313km walk to Bathurst. 

Royce, a resident at the Tulich Family village The Royce, which is named after the former rugby league player, is for the second successive year raising funds for dementia research and supporting local junior rugby league clubs. 

Royce will complete his walk in 12 days, and will finish prior to the Royce Simmons Cup to be played between the Panthers and Wests Tigers at Carrington Park, Bathurst on Saturday, 29 April. 

DCM Group, owner of the DCM Institute, paid a visit to The Royce last month and met Royce after he had walked to the Blue Mountains and back. 

Click HERE to support Royce’s Big Walk.

Facility Manager Latest industry developments

RSL LifeCare Lifestyle Manager Sarah Phillips coordinates four centres for ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day, Tuesday 25 April, is a very important and special day for many people in retirement living and aged care, their families and staff.

Behind the scenes making the national day of remembrance for all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations”, special is Sarah Phillips, Lifestyle Manager for Residential Aged Care at RSL LifeCare Narrabeen on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Sarah coordinates RSL LifeCare’s four residential aged care homes on site to ensure that the residents can attend the activities and services.

It’s a big job as Sarah has to work out how many volunteers are needed and what transport is involved (buggy and buses).

RSL LifeCare holds four major events to mark ANZAC Day:

  • RSL ANZAC Village, Narrabeen Service on Wednesday 19 April, with speaker General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK AC(Mil) CVO MC (Retd);
  • Field of Remembrance Dedication and Anzac Service, El Alamein Village, Lyneham, ACT, on Friday 21 April, with speaker Matt Anderson, Director of the Australian War Memorial.
  • Dawn Service on Anzac Day, 25 April, at RSL ANZAC Village, Narrabeen, with speaker Rear Admiral Lee Goddard RAN CSC (Retd).

Kerry Morris, RSL LifeCare’s Manager of Events and Community Engagement, manages the Narrabeen and Canberra events. The Canberra event is in partnership with the Australian War Widows ACT.

“I work closely with Sarah and the Retirement Living Team at Narrabeen including maintenance, landscaping, transport and catering. It really does take a ‘village’ to pull it all together,” Kerry said.

David Deller, Fundraising & Events Manager RSL LifeCare Veteran Services, is managing the annual BridgeClimb.

Key things to help you everyday Latest industry developments

SA Health Minister promises new laws to protect retirement village residents

SA, the home of Retirement Living Council Executive Director Daniel Gannon, seems the hotbed for new laws against retirement village operators.

Only days after SA Federal MP Rebekha Sharkie put a motion to the Australian Government calling for the retirement sector to operate under national regulations, the SA Government’s Health Minister Chris Picton has promised changing the state’s Retirement Village Act 2016 through the Retirement Villages (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2023.

Consultation opened on 31 March and is open to 19 May.

Proposed changes include improving contract transparency with information on all fees and charges made available to prospective residents, including remarketing fees and charges and how exit fees are calculated.

A review of the Act was undertaken in 2021, with the Government stating it had received 200 submissions by residents, operators, peak bodies and other interested parties. Independent reviewers found that while many parts of the Act were operating as intended, there was still “room for improvement” and 60 recommendations were made.

The amendments to the Act are aimed at increasing consumer protections; strengthening standards applying to retirement village operators and village staff, and strengthening the powers and functions of the Registrar.

The Review’s recommendations also considered the potential growth of the retirement village sector, the challenges of an ageing population putting increased demand on the sector and the wide variety of operators in the retirement villages space.

“Reforms need to be done in a balanced way to ensure the sustainability of the sector and that people are not taken advantage of,” the Minister said.

“These proposed reforms will put consumer protection at the forefront and also minimise any unnecessary impacts on retirement village operators.”

Daniel Gannon said contract transparency was vital and underpinned reform work that the Council was undertaking with Governments.

Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

Retirement Visionary: A Journey of Personal Growth and Community Impact

Retirement Visionary: A Journey of Personal Growth and Community Impact 

Caroline Henning is a woman who wears many hats. Along with being the Village Manager at Erskine Grove, a RAAFA retirement village in Mandurah on the southwest coast of WA, she also has a music side hustle. Always seeking new challenges and opportunities for personal growth, Caroline’s passion for development led her to take on the role of Village Manager at Erskine Grove after leaving local government. 

For the past three years, Caroline has worked tirelessly to get to know the 300 residents of Erskine Grove on a personal level. She believes that understanding their individual goals and aspirations for retirement is key to ensuring their happiness and well-being. To help residents clarify their desires and focus on achieving their goals, Caroline introduced the concept of a Vision Board, a visual representation of one’s goals and aspirations. 

Caroline’s love of music inspired her to host her first “Vision and Beers” session at a local microbrewery. The event was a hit and ended with an impromptu jam session that Caroline says was “no accident,” as she is a muso herself. The success of this event inspired Caroline to explore the benefits of group sessions with residents and staff at Erskine Village. She believes that a Vision Board can be a useful tool for creating a fulfilling and purposeful retirement. 

“Taking time out to develop a personal purpose and vision in a group session is not only beneficial to the residents,” Caroline says. “But I’m also learning more about the residents and their passions and desires.” 

Caroline’s approach has been well-received by the residents of Erskine Grove, and they appreciate her efforts to get to know them on a personal level. “Caroline is always there to lend an ear and help us figure out what we really want,” said one resident. “She’s become more like a friend than a manager.” 

Caroline’s dedication to the personal development of others has not gone unnoticed. In fact, she recently shared her experience with the process and her residents with DCM Institute. Here are a few of her lessons learned thus far: 

  • Joining in to help someone else bring their vision to life can be fun and challenging. After personally attending a series of introductory silks acrobatic classes, helping a friend to achieve her goal to fly through the sky like the singer Pink, Caroline says she will definitely not be joining the circus. 
  • Seniors understand how to self-analyse and create S.M.A.R.T goals, reflecting on the past while staying in the present. 
  • Adjusting the time of the sessions to suit the group is important, as this work can be exhausting for resident participants. One hour is enough for these guys. 
  • Taking time out to decompress and reflect afterward is vital. 

Caroline’s passion for personal development and dedication to the residents of Erskine Grove make her a valuable asset to the retirement community. Through her use of Vision Boards, Caroline is helping residents achieve their goals and find purpose in their retirement years. 

Vision Boards: Can I complete this activity at home?  

Yes, you can work on this at home and create your own vision board: Theme ideas:  Health, Family, Love and Friendship, Spiritual & Knowledge, Service & Generosity, Travel, Prosperity. The most important thing to note for this entire process is there is no right or wrong way to create a vision board. There is also no such thing as a bad vision or goal. This process is entirely personal. Envisioning your future and your goals allows you to answer the question “What do I want?” Let yourself listen to what you want, not what they want.  

For more information on Vision Boards, click here.

Facility Manager Key things to help you everyday

A Fairer, Healthier World

World Health Day is a day dedicated to raising awareness about global health and promoting healthy living. This year, the theme for World Health Day is “Building a Fairer, Healthier World”. As we reflect on this year’s theme, it is important to consider the needs of seniors and the importance of having conversations about their health and wellbeing.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), seniors are at a higher risk of developing health problems due to a variety of factors, including age-related changes, chronic health conditions, and lifestyle factors. This makes it crucial for retirement village managers and seniors living communities to create and uphold a supportive and open environment for their residents to have health-related conversations with each other, their families, and from time to time, with the management.

As a retirement village manager, it is essential to promote early detection and treatment of health problems, encourage healthy behaviours and lifestyle choices, and provide an opportunity for seniors to share their concerns and experiences. By simply being there for someone and creating an environment that allows for open conversations, we can help our residents navigate their changing health and wellbeing needs leading to a better quality of and a happier retirement community overall.

In honour of World Health Day, it is important to take a moment to reflect on the need to promote good health and wellbeing for everyone, regardless of age or background. As Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the WHO, stated, “Health is a fundamental human right, and building a fairer, healthier world requires a concerted and collaborative effort from all sectors of society.”

On this World Health Day, let us all commit to taking action towards building a fairer, healthier world by prioritizing the health and wellbeing of seniors in our communities.

Latest industry developments

Aveo Group’s $11M settlement saved the retirement living sector

The capitulation by the class action lawyers Levitt Robinson in its six-year bid to score a speculated $100 million-plus from village operator Aveo Group, claiming dodgy contracts and deals with residents, saved the retirement village sector months and months of shockingly bad media coverage over claimed rip-off contracts.

A class action win could have resulted in more class actions, a winding back of contract options available to residents of retirement villages and ramifications for the price exiting residents could sell at, not to mention the continued undermining of trust in the sector and impact on residents and the village workforce.

All village operators will know the damage caused by the joint investigation in 2017 between The Sydney Morning HeraldThe Age and ABC’s Four Corners, which claimed Aveo was engaging in practices that included churning residents, fee gouging, and misleading marketing promises.

‘Bleed them dry until they die’ ruined all village sales by up to 30% for three years. The sector lost over $3 billion in value as a result. ASX-listed Aveo was hardest hit, resulting in it being bought by Canadian investment giant Brookfield Asset Management, who attracted Tony Randello to head Aveo from the leadership of Lendlease Retirement to resurrect the group.

Levitt Robinson has now expressed regret for the distress and anxiety caused to Aveo residents because of the class action.

While both parties have agreed that the introduction of the Aveo Way contract was lawful and in accordance with industry standards, Aveo has agreed to pay $11 million in full and final settlement to bring this matter to a conclusion after six years of needless legal action.

This settlement is without admission of liability by Aveo and remains subject to Court approval. How much, if anything, of the settlement amount will go to residents is yet to be determined. The class action was brought on a “no win, no fee” basis and was funded by US litigation funder Galactic.

A good outcome for the sector – but one that is not so good for the residents and families who must now move on.

Key things to help you everyday

Why you need to get residents into your gymnasium

The resistance training performed in gyms is a “preventative against ageing” – so why do so many retirement villages and aged care gyms lie empty?

The first stop on any visit to an aged care home or retirement village is often a tour of the gymnasium. The brand new equipment and purpose-designed-and-built room are often a source of great pride – however, more often than not, the visitor will witness a room full of equipment but devoid of residents.

Simon Lockyer, co-founder CEO of Brisbane-based home care provider Five Good Friends, says gyms are often underutilised.

“Providers have usually spent quite a bit of money on a gym facility, but often there’s only one or two people who really use them religiously and the rest of the community doesn’t know how to access it.”


Yet ‘getting into the gym’ can mean the difference between your residents ageing well – and positively promoting your village to their family and friends – or leaving for higher care services.

Resistance training – exercises that involve using weights or resistance to build muscle mass and improve strength – is widely known to be the most effective way to maintain fitness and mobility as we age.

Strength training is “a preventative against ageing, disability and disease, and the most important rehabilitation tool for those who have experienced functional decline,” says Dr Tim Henwood, Group Manager, Health & Wellness, at Southern Cross Care (SA, NT & VIC) Inc.

“Research shows [resistance training is]as effective as medication to reduce symptoms of disease such as diabetes II, depression, and anxiety.

“It can strengthen your heart and your lungs almost as effectively as aerobic exercise, and it will have significant implications for falls reduction, which is enhanced positively when it is combined with balance training.”

“If older adults want to remain independent, they must do resistance training,” Tim said.


Yet residents often don’t take up the opportunity.

“For the greater majority, and with the prevalence highest among older adults, many people have no experience in the gym,” said Tim.

“Many people have a negative stereotypical image of what a gym is and what the results are from training.”

“Few realise that strength training exercise has the greatest positive impact on their independence.”


How then do you get people moving?

“The first step is always education,” Simon said.

Five Good Friends’ village concierges run sessions to help educate residents. This includes information on the importance of strength and resistance training in maintaining independence and mobility.

Residents have “different barriers” to resistance training so an individual approach is required when working with residents to improve gym attendance, said Tim.

He believes there are four key factors to “better utilisation” of gyms:

  • client education,
  • casual staffing with appropriately qualified individuals,
  • a free comprehensive health assessment and program when the client moves in, and
  • encourage people to come together, therefore offering support and social engagement.


Having equipment that is safe and easy to use is also paramount.

Tim is a self-described “big fan” of HUR equipment, which is designed specifically for rehabilitation and older users.

Designed in Finland and using air resistance instead of weights, resistance on HUR machines can be moved up or down in increments as small as 100g. Starting loads begin at 100g, which reduces stress on the body and minimises the risk of accidents.

Residents can access the equipment using a smart device on their wrist or smartcard; the machines can automatically adjust seat level, lever arm positions, resistance, and repetitions to suit the user.

HUR equipment is “user friendly” and has “less set up and has range of motion appropriate for this age group, and, if you invest in the internet integrated models, they welcome the client by name, set their resistance, count their repetitions and tell them how long to rest for,” Tim explained.


Tim also believes that having appropriately qualified staff to train, monitor and motivate residents is vital.

“More than equipment, a good instructor, qualified and experienced working with this population, is the best solution,” he said.

While some facilities will have physios and exercise physiologists, many won’t. Providers such as Five Good Friends through their Move Nourish Connect program can help build partnerships with outside providers to bring external experts into the facility. They can also help to build communities around gyms in facilities of people who can exercise together.

Gyms are good for you, but it’s the communities around them that are often the reason people keep coming back.