Village Operator

What the new Village Manager is looking for from an employment arrangement?

At the helm of every good village is a good village manager – but as operators are being forced to compete on salaries and benefits with other industries, good village managers are getting harder and harder to attract and retain.

A good village manager is vital for a village’s success, as they look after not only the physical assets of the village but the all-important DMF income.

The deferred management fee business is reliant on resident satisfaction – so there’s the assets of in some cases $20-70 million or more that they maintain, but VMs also have to maintain resident satisfaction to be able to grow and improve the DMF side.

Together, that’s a pretty important reason for having a very good village manager.

The role has changed. Today, a competent village manager is responsible for compliance, financial management, property management, mental health management, population wellness, sales, marketing and general resident well-being.

Looking forward, VMs might also be responsible for areas such as care services, food services, and retail leases, so their skill set is actually extremely broad.

It’s not something you can go to university to learn.

What managers want

Village managers are becoming more and more savvy in terms of what they want from an employer. Prospective hires nowadays would like to see:

  • A solid induction program – not just a week of on-the-job training
  • A commitment to ongoing professional development
  • Sound support program structures
  • Technological systems that support the village operations
  • Project support, such around COVID planning, Accreditation or asset upgrades

And more pay to go with the increased responsibility and skills.

We will look at this in the next issue.

Village Operator

Stockland leaves retirement villages to build more land lease communities

33 minutes after announcing it was leaving retirement villages Stockland announced it was creating a new partnership with the huge Japanese real estate investment fund Mitsubishi Estate, to build a lot more land lease communities.

Together they intend to have $4 billion in development and sales over the next five years.

Stockland already had 10 land lease communities being built, plus last year they bought Halcyon’s land lease communities for $620 million.

Land lease communities are charging ahead. Home builder Mirvac also decided this month to move into the sector in a big way. See our story below.

Land lease homes sell to 55 to 70-year-old’s, while retirement village operators sell to 75+. They are a different market. LLCs also do not have any care in their offer – for now.

As long-time LLC operator Palm Lake Resort has had to do in its older locations, it has opened Aged Care homes next door.

Things to watch Village Operator

Movie screening in retirement villages: it’s the law

Last week I read a great alert from our Industry Partners Russell Kennedy that provided a timely reminder about screening of movies within Retirement Communities, particularly during these COVID times when residents are often more likely to stay within the village.

In my experience there is often some confusion about whether operators are required to have a license when screening movies in community centres. 

 Most of us will have seen the notices at the start of DVDs or streaming services warning that the film is provided for in-home use only. At the time of purchase you are often also purchasing the right to view the movie in your own home.

However, what if you wish to screen the film in the community centre. That is when things get a little complicated.

Our colleagues Rohan Harris (pictured) and Gina Tresidder at Russell Kennedy share the following.

There are no blanket exceptions or specific ‘fair dealing’ provisions that apply to the screening of films in aged care homes or retirement villages1 or for not-for-profits. So the question becomes whether it is a ‘private’ or ‘public’ screening.

What’s the difference between a ‘Private’ and ‘Public’ screening?

There are no specific guidelines set out in the legislation.

Generally, if a resident is watching a film in the same way a person might do in a private home then it is likely to be considered a private screening. For example: If a resident of a retirement village hires a DVD or signs up to a streaming service and watches a film alone in their room or invites a few friends over to watch.

This would generally be regarded as a private screening that would not require permission.

 However, if the provider or the operator organises to screen a film for multiple residents in a common area such as a recreation room, for example, this is more likely to be considered a public screening requiring permission from the copyright owners. For example: If a retirement village committee plays a DVD in the community centre and residents from the village gather there to watch it, even if there are no guests from outside the village;

This is more likely to be considered a public screening requiring a licence.

Where can I get a licence?

Rather than approaching the individual owners of copyright in the particular films you wish to screen, to streamline matters, the various studios have granted rights to different organisations to manage licensing on their behalf.

 In particular, we understand that Roadshow Public Performance Licensing (RPPL) ( manages licenses for studios such as Roadshow, Warner Bros, Universal, Paramount, and 20th Century Fox. RPPL has recently authorised a specialist distributor, Heritage Films International Pty Ltd, to issue the Big Studio Movie Licence ( to retirement communities and aged care facilities.

What if I do not get a licence?

If you do not get a licence, then you may be infringing the copyright in the films you screen. The copyright owner or authorised licensee could take legal action against you any time up to six years after the infringement occurred. The copyright owner could seek orders from the courts including that the infringer pay damages or a portion of profits. In some circumstances, directors can also be found personally liable.

If you need some further clarification or guidance on this matter please reach out to Rohan or Gina at Russell Kennedy’s IP team.

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.

Latest industry developments Things to watch Village Operator

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY & CHOICE the next decade in retirement living!

The village sector since inception has progressed and reshaped it’s offering nearly every decade.  

  • Pre-1950’s Retirement housing was typically small pockets of Senior citizens flats for the vulnerable. 
  • 1960-70’s these flats were increasingly co-located with Nursing Homes. 
  • 1980’s saw broad acre villages with large communal hubs and often serviced apartments. 
  • 1990’s saw the commencement of the lifestyle villages with tennis courts & pools.
  • 2000’s has seen the introduction of high-end villages, an increase in apartment models and of course we can’t ignore the emerging land lease communities. Now Community Apartment Projects (CAPs) are growing in popularity plus there is growing interest in the build to rent option for older Australians. 

Pictured above is a 26 storey retirement village, aged care and health hub by Not For Profit Bolton Clarke as an example.

This is just the infrastructure changes, not to mention the various cycles of contracts and financial model changes, with service provision revisions. 

2021 and Beyond

In 2021 and beyond, we will have a sector much like the hotel sector; the choice and ranges, from simple, affordable villages all the way along the spectrum to high-end villages with all the bells and whistles, inclusive of aged care services.

The picture above is a CAPs boutique development in Terrigal on the NSW Central Coast.

The fact is older Australians have never been more wealthy as the 50 to 70 age group inherits the wealth of the 75+ who include the family home in the handover. Retirees can afford a far more sophisticated product.

Village professionals, like yourselves, will have the greatest OPPORTUNITY & CHOICE to consider just where you may channel your energies to make the most of the GROWTH opportunities ahead. 

Property still needs community

In my experience, regardless of the infrastructure, model, financial structure or services, what has always been key to a successful village is the building of the village community! 

That has not changed in seven decades and I cannot see it changing anytime soon.  

In my time I have witnessed many amazing, dedicated village professionals that have developed an innate knowing of what makes a community thrive! 

I would love to share that there is a secret silver bullet in how to build community, but if there is anything I have learnt, it’s not just one!

I know it starts with integrity, trust, hard work, empathy, collaboration, consistency, and serving, but it is also requires knowledge, tools, and resources.

This is what we are daily building for Members of the DCM Institute.

This is an exciting time to be a part of the change and play a pivotal role in shaping the next evolution of the industry. 

We know from experience that much of that transformation starts with those on the frontline, village professionals, key leaders like yourselves delivering the services, implementing the strategies, working with communities, and driving the change.

What OPPORTUNITY or CHOICE will you make in 2022? 

Facility Manager Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

Diversity and Inclusion requires Belonging to be effective for all residents

Why is diversity an objective in retirement communities?

In essence, a commitment to diversity within your village is an acknowledgement of the benefits that having a wide variety of people, heritages, ideas and experiences can offer in building a vibrant community!

Australia has one of the most diverse older populations in the world, with a significant proportion of the Australian seniors community identifying as:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD)
  • Veterans of the Australian Defence Force or an allied defence force (or the spouse, widow or widower of a veteran)
  • LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/gender diverse, intersex and queer)
  • Disabled or living with a significant health concern

So, while we often talk about ‘Diversity’, do we really understand its importance to our staff and our village communities?

Firstly, it is important to recognise that diversity cannot work without inclusion, and that ‘diversity and inclusion’ cannot be sustained without belonging.

In simple terms:

Diversity is the characteristics that make people unique. 

Inclusion is the behaviours and community norms that make people feel welcome.

Belonging is an individual’s sense of acceptance by others.

How can Village Professionals promote Diversity?

What are some of the activities village professionals can do to establish and promote Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in the workplace and within village communities?

Having a conscious approach to support the diverse nature of residents living in your village is vital to operational planning, resident satisfaction and service delivery within your community.

Recognise and consider inclusive activities, which increase in importance as people age and face the possibility of isolation.

Ensure that older Australians remain valued and have the same access to opportunities whatever their differences.

Establish inclusive practices as part of everyday operational activities, whether it is at meetings, operational planning, or as part of project considerations within the village community. 

Additionally, you can:

  • Provide activities that appeal to diverse groups
  • Conduct regular education/reminders to village teams about diversity
  • Address and discourage others’ bias toward ageing
  • Hold open conversations across the entire village (not just with a select few)
  • Include stories, recipes & information in newsletters that represent the diversity of the village community
  • Ask residents what they would like to share about their heritage, lifestyle or background
  • Ensure diversity activities are an agenda item on team and resident meetings

A quick quote from Jesse Jackson:

“When everyone is included, everyone wins.”

Facility Manager Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

Community engagement includes engaging with residents

I’ve talked previously about the changing characteristics of this next generation, the Baby Boomer. They are now rapidly taking up occupancy in our villages. 

Just like they have done in every aspect of their journey, Boomers are displaying traits and behaviours that call for new consultation and communication models.   

One of the best examples of why we should consult with residents is the video above left by Becky Hirst. In it, she explained she knows nothing about road construction – but she knows everything about the road she lives on, because she walks and drives it every day and night.

Watch it HERE and it will give you a smile. It may cause you to rethink resident consultation as well.

Becky has been speaking at our VILLAGE SUMMIT events around the country on the building steps and importance of Community Engagement.

If you are interested in finding out more about Becky, she has recently written published her book, For the Love of Community Engagement.

Find out more here –

Wanted and expected? Yes and yes   

The activity we have already seen over the last 5 years, with the activation of the residents’ associations across the country, indicates strongly to me that residents want to – and expect to – be engaged in dialogue where decisions that may impact or affect their futures and lifestyles are occurring.  

The next time you’re making a decision, perhaps think a little bit more broadly about who the decision might impact or affect – and importantly, who else might be able to contribute valuable insight.  

Next time you are preparing to make a significant decision on behalf of your residents, consider how you might be able to come alongside your community and engage at a deeper level to gain a broader perspective from those impacted or affected.  

Village Operator What the research tells us

Food is hard to deliver – or is it with new technology

Historically retirement villages have not engaged in food service because residents are independent, meaning they can prepare their own meals in their own home.

For operators and management, it has also been a high risk and high cost adventure to test if residents want meals prepared for them.

But all this is changing, as marketers see food as a differentiator and a way of creating community. And residents are increasingly expecting meals to be available on demand, just like they do at home through Uber Eats!

The major reason to think about food is nutrition. Poor nutrition, the balance between volume and nutrients the food selected to eat, is the fastest route to physical decline in the aged.

New services, new technologies

In a recent edition of SATURDAY, our editor Lauren Broomham reported on a number of services and technologies now available.  Some of these included ‘Digital plates’ that scan resident’s meals before and after and identifies food intake and nutrition, cashless apps and more you will want to know about. 

We have selected a few that you can give you an insight into the future of food.

Meals on demand

Many operators throughout lockdowns have utilised these services for their residents. 

They are also a great option for someone recovering from a stay in hospital who is unable to get out and about or just pure convenience.

Some of the new and established entrants include:

  • TLC Meals is a service for discharged hospital patients and delivers a range of frozen, nutritious meals to clients, catering for a range of dietary and medical requirements.
  • Lite n’ Easy has developed a range specifically for the elderly. They have partnered with a number of Home Care package providers to deliver meals to older Australians and has over 100 meals to choose from subsidised by up to 70% of the resident’s Home Care Package (HCP).
  • SPC is the well-known Australian food company. It has announced it’s move into a nutritional healthcare company for older people in residential care and at home. They already have produced their ProVital brand which specialises in fruit-based snacks and beverages and home delivered meals under the Good Meal brand. They are now focusing on offering food products easy to open for people suffering from arthritis.

Outsourced food management

  • CBORD – an American food technology company that specialises in retirement communities universities and hospitals, has created a whole digital front and back end for food management and nutrition. It scans every plate before a meal is eaten and afterwards with the remaining scraps and calculates the nutrition intake of the resident, and that’s just the start. Many Australian hospitals and some aged care operators and are using CBORD.
  • Compass Group Australia, Senior Living – a catering and hospitality services business that offers a full suite of support services to the senior living and healthcare sector from gardening to reception services, and now they will operate your food service for you.

Click HERE to read the full article.

Key things to help you everyday Village Operator

What to know – and remember – for successful Financial Management

As you only too well know, Financial Management plays a critical role for all Village Managers and Operators, and how the decisions made can affect your residents.

For those of you that are Members of the DCM Institute program, you may have completed this topic and know what I am talking about.  However, with the New Year looming we thought it was a great opportunity to share some tips.  And now may be a good time to do a refresher of this topic in the Knowledge Centre.

Legislation Requirements

The Retirement Villages Act and associated Retirement Villages Regulations specify an operator’s obligations in relation to the financial management of retirement villages.

While we are not required to be accountants, we should know enough about the village financial matters to be able to understand the workings of the budgets and accounts.

By engaging and working with your finance department, qualified accountants and auditors, you will be able to confidently present sound budgets and accurate financial statements for the village.

We must also abide by the more general legislative local, State and Commonwealth obligations for relevant levies, rates, taxes and other legal responsibilities.

In the legislation are details the operator’s obligations related to:

  • The financial information provided to residents
  • How village funds can be collected, accrued and utilised
  • Where and for what purpose funds can be expended
  • Inclusions / exclusions of items specific to a fund type (capital, recurrent, general)
  • Reporting of the village’s income and expenditure
  • The timing, format of and processes to consult with and present to residents
  • The process for managing any finance related dispute
  • Disclosure statements and independent auditing
  • Resident incoming contributions and exit entitlements

It is a great idea to keep a copy of your relevant RV Act and regulations at hand for quick reference, (hard copy or internet booked marked).

Common Village Practices

Village Budgets

A budget is simply a way of thinking ahead financially.

The Village budget represents the expenses you expect to incur and the income you propose to receive during the 12 month forecast period; it is a statement of anticipated income and expenditure.  A well-prepared budget will determine whether your income is likely to exceed your expenditure, and if so by how much.

When preparing the Village budget, we should undertake a process of review and verification to ensure budget data and inputs are accurate and have a sound basis for inclusion.

Refer to the Budget Planning Guide in the DCMI Portal to assist with your budget planning process.

Village Funds

The Financial Management of a village includes the way an operator manages the funds of the village.

This extends to a legislative prescribed regime for the classification of and responsibility for, expenditure relating to all village related funds.

Compliance with the Retirement Villages legislation for your state is imperative, as its adherence to any related terms of each resident’s contract.

The following gives a general overview of the types of funds that are prescribedPlease note the name and obligations of these funds may vary from state to state.

Each Village generally has 3 funds

  • A capital replacement fund for replacing the village’s capital items
  • A maintenance reserve fund for maintaining and repairing the village’s capital items
  • A general services charges fund for the cost of services that are supplied or made available to all residents of a retirement village

General Services / Recurrent Charges

Residents collectively fund general services via general services charges; however, the operator pays general services charges (or part) for unsold units and vacated units

General services is defined as ‘services supplied, or made available, to all residents of a retirement village’

  • Providing, operating and managing the community facilities
  • Gardening and landscaping
  • Managing security at the village
  • Maintaining an emergency help system and safety equipment
  • Cleaning, maintenance and repairs of and to the community facilities
  • Administration’ and or ‘Management’ costs

The Act also regulates the charging of general services to a resident after the resident has vacated. 

An Operator may reduce the period a resident is required to pay the charge but is not able to compel a resident to pay this charge beyond the prescribed period.

Maintenance Reserve Fund (MRF)

This fund provides for the ongoing maintenance and repair of the village’s capital items.

The income into this fund is generally derived as a monthly contribution from the General Services Fund.

Capital Fund

The treatment of Capital items can vary from state to state and also with different resident contracts.  In general Capital items are:

  • The buildings and structures located in the retirement village and owned by the operator, including the communal facilities, amenities and accommodation units,
  • But are not items that, under the residence contract, are to be maintained, repaired and replaced by the resident.

Where required by legislation and/or to achieve best practice, a Quantity Surveyor’s report should be updated or completed to identify the minimum requirements an operator has in relation to the Capital Fund.

The Quantity Surveyor report would then provide the basis for the Capital Fund expenditure for that year.

Capital expenditure items would include the cost of:

  • The Quantity Surveyor report
  • The provision/replacement of all initial/ongoing capital items
  • Building & structural expenditure
  • Plant & equipment
  • Communal hot water
  • Air-conditioning
  • Community facility furnishings
  • Vehicles
  • Roads/paths
  • Drainage/sewer
  • Initial landscaping
  • Electrical distribution systems

Additional financial management considerations may include:

Personal Services

  • Defined as ‘optional services supplied or made available for the benefit, care or enjoyment of a resident of a retirement village’ (e.g. laundry, meals, cleaning)
  • Payable personally by those residents who receive the services
  • Amounts charged, and increases in charges, that are not regulated by the RV Act – purely contractual.  The operator can include a profit component
  • Where a service is not supplied or made available to all residents of the village, then it is a personal service

Special Levy

A special levy is a fee which a resident is required to pay for an unforeseen expense of the retirement village. The special levy is generally applied with the consent of residents through a special resolution.

Surplus and Deficits Policy

All villages should have a Policy, compliant with legislation, which clearly defines how any surplus or deficit in the operating budget will be treated.

Marketing costs

The cost for sales and marketing, related to the remarketing of units and also the general sales and marketing of the village, must abide by legislation.

Vacating and Re-sale related costs (including refurbishment)

There may be costs to make good, refit or refurbish the unit when a resident vacates their unit and the residence is then put on the market as a “re-sale”.

The costs, by whom they will be paid and how they are treated are represented in the resident contract and defined in legislation.