The Draft Retirement Villages Amendment Bill

NEW LEGISLATION NEWS

WARVRA has been contributing to the Stage 2 review of the Retirement Villages Act 1992 for over 4 years now. It has been a long drawn out process of Roundtables, Consultation meetings and reviews with all Stakeholders through the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, Consumer Protection Division (DMIRS). This resulted in a Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (DRIS) containing 35 recommendations as the basis for legislation reforms to the Act, Regulations and Guidelines. The DRIS was published on the DMIRS website for all to see in January 2022.

The good news is that the Retirement Villages Amendment Bill 2024 (RVAB) has been drafted, and the Regulation changes have commenced. The RVAB is expected to be presented to Parliament in August this year.

WARVRA received a draft copy of the RVAB for comment on the 10th May 2024 and provided feedback on the 58 page document to Consumer Protection – firstly from our Specialist Panel on the 24th May, and secondly from our lawyer on the 28th May 2024. Both of these responses are available for viewing on the WARVRA website on the “Members Only” page.

We arranged for lawyers Penny Griffiths and Robyn Peterson, our Consumer Protection contacts, to attend our General Meeting on the 17th May 2024. They provided an excellent overview of the legislative changes in the Bill, and responded to many questions from members. Their presentation and speaking notes (within the minutes) are also available on the “Members Only” page and are recommended viewing for members seeking a summary of the changes in plain English. Being an Amendment Bill, full analysis of the legislation requires viewing of both the Bill and the Act simultaneously. Nevertheless if any member does require a copy of the draft Bill that can be arranged by contacting me.

We also met with Commerce Minister, Sue Ellery MLC, on 6th June 2024. The Minister is committed to get the legislation through Parliament as soon as possible, and this is good news, but it has left very little time for any last minute changes. Feedback suggests that most of the minor points will be adopted as they do not involve any policy changes. Other more significant suggestions on behalf or residents are less certain, due to being late inclusions, or perhaps policy matters that would require more consultation with Stakeholders, and time has run out.

Included in the latter would be for instance our suggestions to legislate;

  • (a) that Operators must pay interest on overdue exit payments after permanent vacation.
  • (b) to remove or reduce the 12 month and other delays in exit payments that are still possible on application.
  • (c) to removing the operators ability to declare fixed appliances like stoves and hot water systems as non capital items being “for exclusive use of residents” – and therefore the residents personal responsibility to maintain repair and replace while in residence.

So if you think these additional points we made or any others are important, please contact your local State Parliamentarian to try and change the Bill, as they have the opportunity to recommend change as the Bill progresses through to proclamation.

Overall, WARVRA is very pleased with the draft Bill which includes many improvements for the benefit of residents and Retirement Living generally in WA, and we are looking forward to assisting in the drafting of the Regulations and Guidelines in the near future.

Eugene Browne, Vice President , 23rd June 2024.