24th Apr 2018

Watchdog probe into retirement village stalls

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ACCC ‘lack of action’ on Aveo
Olga Galacho

Almost nine months since the competition watchdog said it would investigate 'serious matters' involving retirement village operator Aveo, it has still not asked a single question of the company, according to chief executive Geoff Grady.

Further, political oversight for the issue at the federal level appears to have fallen through the cracks since the revelations.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) told YourLifeChoices that it does not comment on ongoing investigations. However, when YourLifeChoices asked Mr Grady how the ACCC probe was progressing, he said he had not heard “anything relating to it” since the early days.

An inquiry to the Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt’s office also hit a dead end. A spokesman for the minister said he “no longer has carriage” of the matter following the last federal Cabinet reshuffle. Despite the rearrangement of the deckchairs, Mr Wyatt was Minister for Aged Care at the time of the Aveo allegations and remains so today.



At the time of writing, YourLifeChoices was still waiting to hear from his spokesman as to which federal minister was now overseeing the retirement village sector.

The sector itself is regulated by state and territory governments, but Mr Wyatt had called for a national approach to monitoring it to create national uniformity and an ombudsman specific to retirement villages.

In July, Mr Wyatt said he discussed with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull the “alarming allegations raised in the recent reports on retirement village contracts and fees". Those reports were first brought to light by a joint Fairfax Media and Four Corners investigation, which detailed alleged “churning, gouging, safety issues and misleading marketing” by Aveo.

Mid-last year, ACCC chairman Rod Sims told Fairfax Media that there were three laws relevant for the commission to investigate: misleading conduct, unfair contract terms and unconscionable conduct. But he said the ACCC would need to unpick what the state requirements were doing.

But as revealed in the joint media report titled “Bleed them dry till they die”, allegations even more shocking were aired. Several residents told stories about being hounded out of the villages for daring to question management’s alleged dubious practices. 

Law firm Levitt Robinson has collected hundreds of signatures for a class action it has begun against Aveo for what it described as “dreadful management agreements and service contracts”.

Have the politicians and regulators dropped the ball on retirement villages?


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COMMENTS

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johnp
26th Apr 2018
2:31pm
What is going on ? Has the LNP been successfully lobbied and trying to stall the investigation ??
MICK
27th Apr 2018
1:28am
Not sure why Olga is baffled. This industry has been protected for decades from both sides of politics. Fraud, corruption, unconscionable behaviour, asset stripping people at the end of their lives? No worries!
Governments know what is going on and the only question which needs to be asked is what political donations are coming into the coffers of the government. That will tell you why nothing is ever done.
Ron Raines
26th Apr 2018
3:30pm
Aveo has an appalling reputation for lack of services , I have an elderly mother who resides in one of their villas and has since they were built.
The number of managers that have passed through this village with no care or attention to the residents issues is mind boggling! Luckily the latest one seems genuinely concerned about all the faults that have gone unattended despite the continual requests by residents.I could list an A4 page of issues with her villa alone.
Mac
26th Apr 2018
9:46pm
There has been too much inaction by both Federal and State governments on anything to do with retirement villages despite inquiries, reports and subsequent recommendations in those reports. It always gets put on the backburner.

It seems to be about delaying all the time. Elderly retirement village residents are last on the list for injustices to be rectified.
retvilldotnet
27th Apr 2018
10:22am
The ACCC owes it to every Australian to pursue this matter. The AVEO matter is just like the banking industry, it is symptomatic of parts of the retirement village industry and must be pursued. In the village I live in the operator breached the provisions of the RV Act and will gain to tune of $2m with the residents out of pocket to the tune of that $2m. The response of Consumer Affairs Victoria to the matter, 'don't do it again'. No interest in pursuing the $2m back for the residents. If this was in the Banking Royal Commission it would be a headline story.
Teddyboy.
28th Apr 2018
6:30am
Sounds like the same attitude the LNP has to enquiring into the Banks. Now if it was a Union that needed looking into!!!
Tommo
28th Apr 2018
2:24pm
Hey, it's not only retirement villages, Lifestyle villages have got on the band wagon and squeezing residents for every penny. Now lifestyle villages are getting up to 30% exit fees, and while we know what we have got ourselves into, it is a bloody rip off, so come on ACCC have a look at ALL retirement accommodation and stop the rip off.
Olga
29th Apr 2018
9:26pm
Thanks for all your comments. My mum has lived in an Aveo village for 13 years and the two managers who have presided over matters have not addressed many issues. My sister has carriage over this because as a journalist reporting on these matters I do not want to have a conflict of interest. But I concur with comments that govts have not carried thru with their oversight of this sector and how it rips retirees off.


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