New laws passed by the Queensland Government last night will deliver greater certainty and security for seniors signing up for retirement villages and other types of accommodation, according to National Seniors Australia.
National Seniors Research Director Professor John McCallum said today the new laws would strengthen protections for older Queenslanders, who were often confused and unclear about the contract terms and conditions associated with retirement villages and residential parks.
He said the landmark reforms should ensure seniors were treated more fairly, and given the support they needed to protect them from exploitation.
Professor McCallum said National Seniors Australia had been among the advocacy groups the Queensland Government consulted in formulating the reforms, and would also be involved in delivering support and education to retirement village residents and other seniors about their housing rights.
The changes to the Queensland laws followed the airing of a joint ABC and Fairfax Media program on ABC TV in June this year, focussing on the practices of retirement village operator Aveo.
Prof. McCallum said National Seniors had been campaigning for years for uniform national legislation governing retirement villages to protect vulnerable seniors.
He said the Queensland Government had led the way in addressing many of the concerns and other states and territories should follow its example.
“People buy into retirement villages expecting to have autonomy and security in their later years,” Prof. McCallum said.
“Instead, many have been faced with unaffordable increases to ongoing fees and charges and reduced service standards, causing them a great deal of worry and, at times, fear and a sense of persecution.
“The Queensland Government’s new laws will help ensure older people get the right information and better understand the terms and conditions of contracts and agreements, so they can make sound decisions about where and how they live in retirement.
“They will offer seniors a greater level of clarity, security and peace of mind, which is what they deserve.
“The bottom line is that, in the past, retirees have signed documents they haven’t been able to understand, because of the way they are written.
“The new laws require simplified, standard contracts, ongoing fees and charges to be clearly declared upfront, and a 21-day cooling off period, among other changes.
“These are welcome and much needed improvements that will improve protections for our older citizens.”