25 March 2024

ACT Government grant to help retirement village residents know their rights

| Ian Bushnell
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John Beagle and petition

ACT RVRA John Beagle: the funding will make a tangible difference to the lives of ACT retirement village residents and prospective residents. Photo: Kay Beagle.

More support is on the way for Canberra’s retirement village residents thanks to a $25,000 ACT Government grant to boost the activities of the volunteer group representing their interests.

The government says the grant will help the ACT Retirement Villages Residents Association (ACT RVRA) to inform residents and residents’ committees about their rights and how to exercise them.

The funding will support a ‘virtual’ office, dedicated phone line and resources to provide a reliable point of contact and information exchange for residents and stakeholders.

The ACT RVRA will be able to promote itself directly within retirement villages as a source of support for residents, and to engage with government agencies and participate in relevant forums.

Resources will also go towards newsletters and informative material, particularly ensuring residents without internet access receive vital updates.

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Consumer Affairs Minister Shane Rattenbury said the government was committed to safeguarding the wellbeing of senior Canberrans by empowering them with knowledge of their rights as residents in retirement villages.

“Ensuring retirement village residents have the resources to effectively advocate for themselves is essential for fostering thriving and equitable communities,” he said.

“The ACT RVRA is made up entirely of dedicated volunteers, who give their time and energy to supporting other residents to navigate retirement village living. I am pleased to support their work with this grant that will amplify their efforts.”

ACT RVRA president John Beagle said the grant would enable the association to more effectively advance and protect the interests of residents and prospective residents of ACT retirement villages.

“By strengthening the activities of the ACT RVRA, the funding will make a tangible difference to the lives of ACT retirement village residents and prospective residents,” he said.

“They will be provided with independent information, advice, advocacy and representation, and the knowledge they need to understand and exercise their rights, and actively participate in their community.”

Mr Beagle, who has also campaigned unsuccessfully for an ACT retirement village ombudsman, said more was needed for the association to be truly effective but it was a good start.

“Any organisation such as ours working with volunteers needs to become more professional and to do that needs more professional help, which is a cost,” he said.

“Until such time as when we become a fully staffed secretariat [such as in NSW] we won’t be able to do what the ACT community deserves.”

He said with an ageing population and people living longer, the needs of residents would only become greater in years to come.

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Mr Beagle said he would like to see a star rating system established for retirement villages to guide potential residents and keep operators on their toes.

He thanked the Justice and Community Safety Directorate and the ACT and Human Rights Commission for giving the association their support.

“Without their assistance we wouldn’t have been able to do what we’ve done for the interests of residents in retirement villages, most of whom are over 80-year-old single vulnerable ladies.”

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