Retirement Living Council paper to advocate on ‘age-friendly communities’ to Federal and State Governments ahead of Federal election

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The village sector’s peak body is formulating a discussion paper on the role of ‘age-friendly communities’ – including retirement villages, seniors’ rental and lifestyle communities – in the ageing journey.

The paper – due for release soon – will be passed onto a range of Government bodies in the lead-up to the Federal election (due by May 2022 at the latest) and focus on the three benefits that seniors’ housing can bring to quality of life and healthy ageing for older Australians – purpose-built housing, access to care and a socially engaging community.

“What we need from Government is a recognition that there is a real social value that these communities are social infrastructure, and that Government needs to think about them beyond the consumer protection angle and in terms of the long term contribution they are making to these social and economic outcomes,” Executive Director, Ben Myers, said.

Ben noted that many new residential communities have an element dedicated to social and affordable housing.

“Our position is that in the same context – and in the same context as disability housing – they need to be thinking about age-friendly communities, and we’re seeing, particularly in NSW, local Governments saying ‘we don’t want any of those’, but we need to have Planning Schemes recognising that an age-friendly community is actually a critical piece of social infrastructure and that real thinking needs to go into it,” he said.

“Unless there is real thought given to mitigating costs, we’re just going to be funnelling people in the future into the health system or the aged care system which are already struggling. There has to be a better way, and that is encouraging people to live independently longer, but in a community where there is access to care and community in a purpose-built house that is designed for ageing.”

Older women aged 55 and over at risk of homelessness are also an area of focus.

“Retirement living, whether it’s land lease retirement living, retirement villages or rental, is often just seen through the prism of consumer protection, but there is so much that is happening on a daily basis to support individuals and there is a genuine affordability and focus on inclusivity,” he stated.

Watch this space then.