My father must have been one of the few people who lost money when he sold his home in a booming Melbourne property market. This huge loss on his home, in a popular suburb not far from the CBD, was despite it selling for more than he paid for it. The problem? He bought into a retirement village." - Diana Thorp. Sunday Herald Sun. 22/08/21

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Victorian Retirement Industry Ombudsman Needed

 Could the need for a Retirement Industry Ombudsman not be more amplified than the real life VCAT case outlined below. A pensioner couple versus the might of a Minter Ellison ready to smite them into legal oblivion, if this couple is wrong in law then the law will do that all by itself. Is this really what the Andrews state government wants for their older citizens living under the umbrella of retirement living. 

The Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal feature the following on their web site under disputes over goods or services, 'If the claim is for goods and services under $15,000, we generally don’t allow a lawyer or other professional representative to speak for you at VCAT'. The only reason VCAT can approve of legal representation at a hearing is on the basis that 'the Tribunal is satisfied that no other party to the proceeding will be unfairly disadvantaged if the representation is allowed'. VCAT have seen fit to grant a retirement village operator the right for the legal firm Minter Ellison to defend them at a hearing against a pensioner couple in a dispute over just $2,000. Is there not an imbalance created here, an imbalance that is almost immeasurable.

The no legal representation under $15,000.00 principal does not deny either party the right to legal advice prior to a hearing, it only speaks of legal representation at a hearing. For claims relating to goods or services under $15,000.00 each party is generally to present their own case based on legal advice received prior to the hearing, designed to level the playing field, to remove the legal formality of a court room.

VCAT has followed a legal process, the one primary consideration however is that the tribunal must be satisfied that no party will be unfairly disadvantaged. The party negatively impacted here is a pensioner couple and it is difficult to comprehend that this is not so in this case. Would the mere cost to them of their own legal council to represent them at the hearing not qualify as 'unfairly disadvantaged'. Without financial resources a pensioner couple would have to take the role of a Perry Mason against a legal firm such as a Minter Ellison over matters of law, would that not qualify as 'unfairly disadvantaged'.

This is a very good example as to why VCAT is much too often a bridge too far for most if not all retirement living residents, that the road to consumer protection is too long and too arduous. The reality is the effort required defeats all but the hardy, or is it the foolhardy. Who will spend their retirement years standing against the legal might of say a Minter Ellison, there is no greater imbalance here in the battle over just $2,000. There is no greater example of why most retirement village residents no matter how just the motives of their case simply surrender, simply suffer the injustice being done to them. There was once a claim that there is nothing wrong with retirement villages as there are so few complaints, the answer to that is in the cumulative experience of retirement living residents.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Problem - Retirement Village

Desperate For Mandatory Evacuation Plans

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

New Resident Higher Charge

Older Women Experiencing Homelessness

Victorian Renters Rights

Citizens With Energy to Challenge

Charities To Be Gagged

Able To Grow Older At Home

Modern and Supportive Public Housing

Function of Government

The role of government is to create an environment for commerce to function whilst at the same time protecting retirees and particularly vulnerable retirees from both financial and emotional harm emanating from that function.

The Victorian Retirement Villages Act 1986 provides the environment for commerce to function but fails to fully protect retirees from financial and emotional harm as a result of it.

The Victorian legislative definition of a retirement village in demanding the payment of an 'in-going' amount without the transfer of property ownership is a major contributor to that financial and emotional harm suffered by retirees.

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