Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy MP and Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs Heidi Victoria MP have announced that the Coalition will establish an ombudsman for retirement housing residents if elected in November. The ombudsman would provide free, independent and binding dispute resolution services to resolve disputes between retirement housing residents and operators.
Consumer Action CEO Gerard Brady welcomed the announcement, saying that an ombudsman for residents would provide much needed access to justice.
‘Currently if a resident is unable to resolve their dispute with an operator, they have to take their complaint to a court or tribunal. This is often a long, stressful and expensive process that leaves residents feeling powerless. An ombudsman will enable older Victorians living in retirement housing to resolve disputes with their housing provider quickly, fairly and without the costs associated with going to court.’
Mr Brody described the proposed ombudsman as a ‘huge win’ for residents and called on the retirement housing industry to back the scheme.
‘Residents living in retirement housing have been calling for an ombudsman for years – this is a huge win for fairness. Even the retirement village industry has supported an Ombudsman in its ‘Eight Point Plan’ for the sector. A safe and fair retirement should be a bipartisan commitment. Now that the Liberal Party and the Greens have committed to an ombudsman, Labor should join across the chamber and put older Victorians in retirement housing first.’
Consumer Action Law Centre has been working closely with Residents of Retirement Villages Victoria, Housing for the Aged Action Group and COTA Victoria to advocate for better protections for retirement housing residents.