The Retirement Living Council is a division of the Property Council of Australia, the national peak body for property developers. The Council was created in 2012, following a long discussion and merger process between the Property Council and a smaller peak body, the Retirement Village Association. After serving for two decades, the Retirement Village Association had begun experiencing difficulties in the funding of advocacy activities. The Retirement Village Association’s merging with the Property Council was extremely advantageous, as the large peak body brought with it both greater efficiency and stronger structure. Currently comprised of sixteen different member companies, the Retirement Living Council is now funded to spearhead research and advocacy for the retirement living sector in Australia.
The role of the Retirement Living Council is to operate as a leadership group for retirement villages on a national scale. “They are the bigger village companies,” explains Mary Wood, the RLC’s executive director. “They have the capacity to fund research that is necessary to persuade governments of any case we have.” The Council collates the critical industry information gleaned from this research, such as retirement village populations, as well as health, age and income profiles, and uses it to keep the government informed.
As of August 1st, the Retirement Living Council has implemented a brand new national accreditation program, improving the standards of quality assurance in comparison to other accreditation schemes that had previously operated within the industry. A form of self-regulation, many owner-operated retirement villages in Australia have expressed the desire to not only be legally compliant with regulations, but to also offer a level of comfort, quality and safety to residents that is certified by a professional inspection of their processes and staff. Villages that successfully certify are then able to hold themselves out as having demonstrably high standards, over and above those legally required.
From the 24th to the 25th of October, the Retirement Living Council will host the Retirement Living Summit 2013, their first major event since the merger. The Summit is a platform for the Retirement Living Council to inform their members of research and advocacy achievements and discuss broader industry trends. The summit will also help village managers to acquire new capital, begin new developments, and implement new processes and services within their villages in order to attract new residents. “It’s a fantastic networking event,” says Mary.
The extent and frequency of regulated re-reviews of retirement villages is an aspect of the Australian state and territory regulations that Mary is working towards changing in the near future. “We’re thinking to have those reviews be as informed as they can be,” Wood says, “So that consumer protection regulation has the least cost impact on industry, and actually improves life for residents without adding to their cost as a result of needless red tape.”
Mary Wood took up her position as executive director of the Retirement Living Council in January of 2013. She has previously worked as a manager for an aged care provider following a long career in politics, during which she was the Chief of Staff to a Federal Minister. In her new position, Mary’s objective is to aid in the growth of the retirement village industry by working with both for-profit and not-for-profit developers in order to meet the nation’s imminent need for high quality, affordable housing for the betterment of the quality of life of Australia’s senior generation. “Retirement villages are part of our growing social needs,” Mary says, “and the sector is able and willing to assist as a market solution to a lot of social and economic problems that older Australians face