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MP Rebekha Sharkie calls on Federal Government to regulate retirement villages

Rebekha Sharkie, the South Australian MP, moved a motion in Federal Parliament yesterday (Monday) asking the Government to consider regulating retirement villages nationally to improve the legal protection of residents.

She said Australians living in retirement villages needed greater financial protection and called on the government to take the lead in ensuring consistency in state and territory legislations.

She wants retirement villages, which are currently regulated by States and Territories, to be under the auspice of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)

The Member for Mayo said while many residents enjoyed retirement village living, many others were “appalled at the excessive fees” applied to retirement village living.

She added had “no insight or control into how some retirement villages calculate the exit costs”.

“Many residents don’t have any control over how the unit is marketed or when it is put to market, as this is often done ‘in-house’ by the retirement village owners, often at rates higher than a licensed real estate agent, leaving exiting residents feeling powerless and out-of-pocket,” she said.

“And once fees are deducted, remaining funds leave some residents ill-equipped to pay for higher level care they may need when they age … this is an area which clearly warrants federal government intervention to help ensure fairness and transparency when you enter and leave a retirement village.”

The Federal MP’s call for retirement villages to be nationally regulated was supported by National Seniors Australia Chief Advocate Ian Henschke, who said nationally-consistent retirement village legislation would reduce the costs of compliance, benefiting both consumers and operators.

“Older people are confused and frustrated by the complexity of the contracts and lack of protections when they consider entering a retirement village and dismayed by the delays and egregious charges when they exit one,” he said.

“Residents want choice and flexibility, which is why the retirement industry offers a range of contract options to best suit their needs,” Daniel Gannon, Executive Director of the Retirement Living Council told The Weekly SOURCE.

“Importantly, the sector works closely and openly with governments, regulators, residents and their families to ensure that Australians have the information they need to make a decision that’s right for them during this important stage of life.

“We know that contract transparency is vital from the outset, which underpins the reform work we are currently undertaking with governments.

“Age-friendly communities across the country contribute more than $3.3 billion in savings to governments through reduced interaction with GPs and hospitals, and most importantly through delayed entry into aged care.”

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