Comment sought on new Retirement Living Code of Conduct

Public comment is being sought on the draft version of a new national Retirement Living Code of Conduct developed by The Property Council of Australia, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA).

The Code is a key element of the retirement living industry’s eight-point plan, which was announced last August in response to public concern about fee transparency and standards.

The draft provides guidance on the marketing, selling and operations of retirement communities, including complaints and dispute management procedures for operators and residents.

Recognising that retirement communities are governed by a complex and diverse set of Commonwealth, state and territory legislation and regulations, the Code seeks to establish a commonly accepted standard to help operators provide a trusted and high-quality service to those living in, or considering moving to, a retirement community.

“The Retirement Living Code of Conduct covers all aspects of a resident’s experience in a retirement community: from signing the contract to move in, right through until
the resident’s unit or apartment is re-sold,” Ben Myers, Executive Director – Retirement Living at the Property Council said.

“Before we implement the Code, we wanted to ensure everyone had a chance to see the standards the industry is setting and provide feedback to us, so we can ensure it is as strong a document as possible.”

It is proposed that signatories to the Code will be expected to nominate a suitably trained Code Compliance Officer who will act as the first point of contact for residents and stakeholders and the Code Administration Committee (CAC) on Code compliance matters, and implement any guidance from the CAC on compliance matters and any future amendments to the Code, by amending materials, processes and systems, as necessary, as soon as possible.

Signatories will also be expected to internally audit their own compliance with the Code annually, act to rectify any failings as necessary and provide written confirmation to the CAC of compliance, and foster and encourage a culture of continuous improvement with a focus on quality outcomes for residents.

CEO of Leading Age Services Australia Sean Rooney said the Code is vital for the industry to set a high level of standards for the marketing, selling and operation of retirement communities, to promote and protect the interests of residents, and provide a clear framework for resolving disputes within a community.

“Once the Code is finalised, our three organisations will promote it to the more than 3000 retirement communities across the country and be strongly encouraging them to sign up and commit to the standards, to demonstrate their commitment to their residents,” Mr Rooney said.

ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow said, “A set of standards agreed upon by providers and consumers alike is an important resource and will be key to building and maintaining the trust and transparency that we in the industry and the community rely on.”

There are currently more than 3000 retirement communities in Australia. Through their collective membership, ACSA, LASA and The Property Council represent more than 50% of retirement communities.

The draft Retirement Living Code of Conduct and consultation details are available at www.retirementliving.org.au/codeofconduct.

Consultation closes on Friday 20 July.

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