The Retirement Living Code of Conduct is an initiative of the three peak bodies representing retirement living across Australia - the Retirement Living Council (RLC), Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) and Aged and Community Service Australia (ACSA). Through their collective membership, they represent more than 50% of retirement communities across the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.
The Code of Conduct is a cornerstone of the retirement living industry’s eight-point plan for a policy platform delivering quality resident experience. It aims to set and maintain high standards relating to the marketing, selling and operation of Retirement Communities, including complaints and dispute management procedures for operators and residents.
This Code uses the term “Retirement Communities” to capture a breadth of seniors housing types, including both Retirement Villages (in their various forms) and Land Lease Communities. Retirement Communities combine high quality fit-for-purpose housing, many with tailored support services designed to meet the specific needs of older people, with a community environment.
The well-documented future growth of Australia’s senior population presents a real challenge for governments to manage the health and housing needs of older people. Retirement Communities play an important - and underrated - role in helping seniors lead a happy and independent life for longer, saving taxpayers more than $2 billion annually through lower health and aged care costs. They are central to providing affordable housing, preventative health and important community services to senior Australians in both regional and urban areas.
There are Retirement Communities in every Australian state and territory. As of 2014, there were approximately 2,270 retirement villages accommodating about 200,000 residents, and more than 1,000 Land Lease Communities accommodating more than 70,000 residents across Australia. This number is constantly increasing.
Operational since January 2020, the Code of Conduct recognises that Retirement Communities are governed by a complex and diverse set of legislation and regulations and seeks to create an accepted standard to help operators provide a trustworthy and high-quality service to those living in, and considering moving to, a Retirement Community. The Code was developed by the peak bodies after extensive consultation with key industry stakeholders, including governments, operators and, most importantly, resident leaders through the Australian Retirement Village Residents Association. In forming the Code, domestic and international best-practice examples were considered. The development of the Code was also guided by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Guidelines for developing effective voluntary industry codes of conduct.
We encourage industry participants, residents, prospective residents and interested stakeholders to familiarise themselves with the provisions outlined in the Code. We hope it will be a helpful aid to promoting and protecting resident rights and providing a benchmark for best practice.
Retirement village owners and operators have agreed on an action plan to deliver higher standards, clearer and simpler information about costs and contracts, and an independent umpire to resolve disputes.
More than 20 operators met with retirement village resident association leaders from around the country in Melbourne last week to hear resident feedback and work on common issues.
As a result of the discussions, the retirement village industry has committed to an 8-point plan that is designed to lead to greater transparency and higher standards across the industry.