Retirement Villages Act 2016 and Retirement Villages Regulations 2017 (DHW 2021-22 Annual Report)

Part 2

  1. Annual Report
  1. The Registrar must, on or before
    30 September in every year, forward to the Minister a report on his or her work and operations for the preceding financial year.
  2. The Minister must, within 12 sitting days after receiving a report under this section, have copies of the report laid before both Houses of Parliament.

Retirement Villages Unit

The Retirement Villages Unit (the RV Unit), within Office for Ageing Well, provides information, assistance and education sessions on retirement village matters, clarifying areas of concern, as well as providing a mediation service to help resolve disputes between residents and operators. The RV Unit investigates and assesses complaints and allegations of breaches of the Retirement Villages Act 2016 (the Act) and Regulations, underpinned by support and education rather than punitive approaches to enforcement.

In 2021-22, legislative requirements under the Act were managed by the RV Unit, including one ASO7 Chief Retirement Villages Officer, one ASO6 Senior Information, Advice & Conciliation Officer, one ASO5 Senior Retirement Villages Officer and one ASO4 Retirement Villages Officer.

In 2021-22, the RV Unit:

  • responded to 582 cases relating to retirement village issues.
  • conducted 31 meetings related to resident cases.
  • delivered three presentations and information sessions to residents and interested groups.
  • delivered monthly “retirement village information” sessions at the Catalyst Foundation.
  • undertook two mediations.
  • provided advice and recommendations to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing.

The majority of queries in 2021-22 related to the formation and operation of committees and their rules and procedures. Requests for advice in relation to how villages should respond to and implement COVID-19 Directions were high in 2021, tapering off in 2022. Exit entitlements and concerns over exit fees remained high, as did seeking advice and assistance relating to maintenance and repairs in the village and seeking updates on the progress of the 2021 review of the Act.


As of 30 June 2022, 529 retirement villages were registered across the state. There are 18,920 residences provided in retirement villages in South Australia. It is estimated that the number of people living in retirement villages totalled approximately 26,488.

Most retirement villages offer independent living units only. A small section of the sector (40 villages) provides serviced apartment accommodation, which caters to residents requiring additional assistance or support, including the provision of meals, some cleaning, laundry and extra services. 

Information about registered retirement villages in South Australia is available on Data SA.

In 2021-22 there were two new villages registered and five villages voluntarily terminated. Under the Act, it is a requirement for all retirement village schemes to be registered within 28 days of the first resident taking up occupation.

The new registered villages in 2021-22 were:

  • Vista Apartments, 17 apartments at West Lakes.
  • Aura by Livewell Communities, 61 apartments in Findon.

Voluntary termination of a retirement village can only occur with Ministerial approval. The five villages terminated in 2021-22 were:

  • Henley Beach: Administrative termination, site registered in error. No retirement village residents, solely provides rental accommodation.
  • Woodville: Village consisting of 67 serviced apartments. The site was sold to another provider and is to be used for another purpose.
  • Glen Osmond: Site comprising of five units adjacent to residential care facility. Units to be demolished and expansion of the residential care facility.
  • Brighton: Site comprising of 36 serviced apartments. Site used by NDIS provider and converted to operator under NDIS scheme.
  • Kadina: Site comprising 18 units converted to Torrens and community title. Titles transferred to existing residents. 

Exemptions from operation under the Act

Under the Retirement Villages Act 1987, there were a number of villages with exemptions, which have continued under the associated provisions of the Retirement Villages Act 2016. The following exemptions are currently active:

  • Four under s18: With client consent, no need to hold premium in Trust (Retirement Villages Act 1987).
  • Eleven under s26(1): Ingoing contribution does not have to be held in trust, max deposit $10,000 (Retirement Villages Act 2016).
  • Forty-five under s22(c), 33(6), 34(8), 39, 40(4): Can have consolidated meetings and financial reports for resident funded and independent living resident groups (Retirement Villages Act 2016).
  • 114 under s22(c), 33(6), 34(8), 40(4): Can have consolidated meetings, financial reports & interim financial reports (Retirement Villages Act 2016).
  • Nineteen under s31(3): Operator exempt from assuming responsibility for depreciation (Retirement Villages Act 2016).
  • Three under s57(1): Operator able to rent to persons not eligible under the Act (Retirement Villages Act 2016).
  • One under s33: Operator is not required to hold annual meeting, while only one person in occupation (Retirement Villages Act 2016).

Compliance Activity

Compliance activity in 2021-22 continued to focus on s33 and s34 of the Act, the provisions that were introduced to improve transparency of resident finances at annual meetings. The documentation was checked against the requirements of the legislation and feedback provided to operators. Pleasingly, most financial reporting provisions were complied with. There were minor non-compliances identified in 25 cases and two instances of moderate non-compliance. In each case, education was provided to the operator and ongoing monitoring will occur.

Disclosure documents were sought from 15 operators, covering 30 contracts executed in the past 18 months. This audit of disclosure statements highlighted that there remains a level of misunderstanding in the sector as to the standard required in the Act and Regulations. Further consideration of disclosure documents to inform future amendments to the Act is required.

Review of the Retirement Villages 2016 Act

The current Act commenced on 1 January 2018, with a requirement to be reviewed three years after its commencement. In line with this requirement, a review of the Act was undertaken in 2021 by independent consultant, PEG Consulting.

The consultants’ report with recommendations was received by Office for Ageing Well on 30 September 2021 and was tabled in both Houses of Parliament on 18 November 2021.

The report makes 60 recommendations, which have been grouped into the categories of: legislative change; policy changes that could be implemented by the Registrar; changes to Better Practice Guidelines; and issues that may require legislative change but require further information.

Several recommendations require further investigation, including consultation with other government departments and testing with the sector. Further information is being sought to better understand the impacts and develop a position on the recommendations.

Retirement Village Residents Advocacy Program

Since 2014, Office for Ageing Well has funded the Aged Rights Advocacy Service (ARAS) to provide an advocacy service to residents. The Retirement Village Residents Advocacy Program is a valuable resource to residents of retirement villages, providing advocacy support, information and advice on their rights. 

The predominant contact with the Retirement Village Residents Advocacy Program is via telephone, with 74 percent of contacts made this way. Seventy-five per cent were calls from metropolitan areas, and 18 per cent were from rural and remote areas, with the balance remaining anonymous.

ARAS assisted 177 individuals in 2021-22, a decrease of 33 per cent from 2020-21. This included general information about rights and advocacy services, as well as advocacy assistance. Advocates assisted with two South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearings.

ARAS delivered six face-to-face information sessions within retirement villages for residents and staff, presented 2 two information sessions via radio, and incorporated information about the Retirement Village Residents Advocacy Program generally in other information sessions.