A Current Affair – a blunt instrument bludgeoning the retirement village sector: Chris Baynes

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Channel Nine’s A Current Affair pulled out all stops in sensationalist journalism in its lead story last night targeting retirement villages.

While using Berkeley Living in Melbourne, a serviced apartment village, as its base, the program went on to deride the entire village sector as being disreputable.

They pulled in aged care as well, confusing the two sectors as the one throughout the program.

Food, staffing, care not provided, sales proceeds not paid to departing residents were all dramatically canvassed.

Four Corners, Adele Ferguson and the Consumer Advocacy Law Centre of Victoria (CALC) were all brought in, culminating in a call for more political action to address the vagaries of the entire village sector.

The lead journalist put extensive words into the mouth of a village staff member and door stopped Stephen Snowden, the purported operator (or consultant to the operator).

Berkeley Living obviously has some problems but it is not a cut and dried situation. It is a strata village that has gone through a liquidation. It is sufficiently complex that no solicitors have been prepared to work with the residents or families – not even CALC.

Stephen Snowden has been in contact with us and his email can be read HERE.

But where is the village sector? Shouldn’t it step in to give the residents and family support plus work with Government – not just hand over to Government a problem? Not For Profits are 40% of the village sector. Would this assistance not be in their ‘mission’ as well?

And what about all village residents across the country? Are they being unsettled by this media coverage?

A Current Affair is a national prime time TV program. They indicated this is the start of a campaign against the village sector.

What impact will it have on operator boards ready to make new village investments? At what stage will banks and wholesale investors say they should hold off funding decisions?

What impact will a drop-off in sales leads have as customers re-think? Remember the GFC four year sales drought? The greatest impact was on departing residents. Now we have mandatory buybacks and operators will need to have deep balance sheet pockets.

Interesting times.