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  • Despite recent bad publicity and superficial complexity, retirement villages are a simple proposition: they are relatively cheap to move into and stay in, and expensive to leave.
  • NSW arguably has the best regulation in Australia from the resident’s point of view.
  • A good reality check is to compare living in a retirement village to an elder downsizing to a smaller home or unit in the suburbs, or a manufactured home estate.

On 26 June 2017, the Four Corners program on ABC Television (‘4 Corners’) aired an exposé on retirement villages. Though a national broadcaster raising legitimate issues, almost all the content centred on two villages managed by the one operator, Aveo, in one state, Victoria. In late July 2017, no doubt in response, the NSW government commissioned Kathryn Greiner to oversee a ‘grass roots’ consultation process with village residents and to report back in December. That report has yet not been made publicly available.

Regulation of retirement villages

The operation of retirement villages is tightly regulated in NSW under the Retirement Villages Act 1999 (NSW) (‘Act’) and, as of 1 September 2017, the Retirement Villages Regulation 2017 (NSW) (‘Regulation’), replacing the 2009 regulations.

The NSW Act contains provisions which deal with the kinds of issues raised in the 4 Corners program. The ACT and Queensland also have robust and comprehensive regulatory regimes for retirement villages, but the same cannot be said of other jurisdictions in Australia. Victoria and the Northern Territory get the ‘wooden spoon’ in terms of the issues raised by 4 Corners.

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