Retirement Villages Act 2016 and Retirement Villages Regulations 2017 (DHW 2022-23 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 Act 2016 is the primary legislation concerned with regulating retirement villages in South Australia and protecting the rights of retirement village residents. It applies to all retirement villages operating in South Australia. The Retirement Villages Unit, within Office for Ageing Well, administers the Act and Regulations on behalf of the Minister for Health and Wellbeing.

The Retirement Villages Unit provides information, assistance and education sessions on retirement village matters, including clarifying areas of concern and providing a mediation service to help resolve disputes between residents and operators. The Retirement Villages Unit also investigates and assesses complaints and allegations of breaches of the Retirement Villages Act 2016 and Regulations, in accordance with the Retirement Villages Enforcement Framework support. Where appropriate, the Retirement Villages Unit favours a supportive and educative approach to enforcing compliance, ahead of resorting to punitive action.

In 2022-23, the Retirement Villages Unit:

  • responded to 522 cases relating to retirement village issues
  • conducted 51 meetings related to resident cases
  • delivered nine presentations and information sessions to residents and interested groups
  • delivered five conflict coaching sessions and dispute resolution information sessions with residents' committees
  • undertook four conciliations between residents and operators
  • interviewed 48 residents in relation to a voluntary termination proposal, and
  • provided advice and recommendations to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing.

The majority of queries in 2022-23 related to the formation and operation of committees and their rules and procedures. In 2022, requests for advice in relation to how villages should respond to behaviour concerns increased, as did concerns about recurrent fees and charges. Requests for advice and assistance relating to maintenance and repairs in the village also increased.


As of 30 June 2023, 527 retirement villages were registered in South Australia, comprising 19,052 residences. It is estimated that there are approximately 26,673 older people living in retirement villages across the state.

Most retirement villages offer independent living units only. A small section of the sector (40 villages) provide serviced apartment accommodation that 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 2022-23, there was one new village registered and four 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 village in 2022-23:

  • Amberwood Retirement Estate, 14 independent living units in Morphett Vale.

Voluntary termination of a retirement village can only occur with Ministerial approval. The four villages terminated in 2022-23 were:

  • Freeling: Village consisting of 10 units. All units now being used for rental.
  • Victor Harbor: Village of 13 units. All units now being used for rental.
  • Joslin: Site comprising of 2 units. Site to be sold on the open market.
  • Orroroo: Site comprising 4 units. Council to use for rental accommodation.

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, maximum 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 and interim financial reports (Retirement Villages Act 2016).
  • Nineteen under s31(3): Operator exempt from assuming responsibility for depreciation (Retirement Villages Act 2016).
  • Four under s57(1): Operator able to rent to persons not eligible under the Act (Retirement Villages Act 2016).

Compliance Activity

Compliance activity in 2022-23 was limited to responsive advice and assessment of complaints. There were four instances of non-compliance reported and assessed against various provisions of the Act. In each instance, education was provided to the operator and ongoing monitoring will occur.

Release of the Retirement Villages (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2023

Following the completion of the independent review of the Act, undertaken by PEG Consulting in 2021, a draft Retirement Villages (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2023 (the Bill) was released for public consultation from 31 March - 19 May 2023. In addition, giving effect to the recommendations of the Review Report requiring legislative amendment, the draft Bill also canvassed community views on additional reforms to enhance consumer protections and ensure the efficient and effective operation of the Act. Targeted questions sought feedback from residents’ and operators’ perspectives in relation to support for the proposed amendments, including feasibility and identifying an unforeseen consequences.

To support the consultation process, Office for Ageing Well held thirteen information sessions across regional and metropolitan South Australia, attended by over 420 people (predominantly comprising residents and operators). The consultation attracted significant community engagement, with approximately 500 people logging into the online survey or submitting feedback via email or hardcopy, resulting in 373 unique submissions from residents, prospective residents, operators, peak bodies and other interested members of the community.

Following analysis of all submissions, an updated Amendment Bill is anticipated to be introduced to Parliament in 2023-24.

Retirement Village Residents Advocacy Program

Since 2014, Office for Ageing Well has funded the Aged Rights Advocacy Service 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 72 per cent of contacts made this way during 2022-23. Fifty-six per cent were calls from metropolitan areas, and 17 per cent were from rural and remote areas, with the balance remaining anonymous.

Aged Rights Advocacy Service assisted 241 individuals in 2022-23, an increase of 36 per cent from 2021-22. This included general information about rights and advocacy services, as well as advocacy assistance. Advocates assisted with five South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearings.

Aged Rights Advocacy Service delivered 20 face-to-face information sessions within retirement villages for residents and staff, presented two information sessions via radio, and incorporated information about the Retirement Village Residents Advocacy Program generally in other information sessions.