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News & Events
Submission to Victorian Government Budget 2018/2019
February 20, 2018
The Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria (OCAV) is a leading not-for-profit retirement village provider offering a continuum of care from independent living, assisted living and aged care in Victoria. Our four villages in Berwick, Euroa, North Fitzroy and St Helena are home to 500 older Victorians in need.
OCAV was established almost 150 years ago by a group of prominent Melburnians to ensure that older Victorians in need had somewhere secure and affordable to live, support when and if they needed it, and a community in which they felt engaged.
Our mission remains unchanged. The need is greater than ever with an increase in single homeless women, a lack of affordable rental housing, limited public housing.
As a leading retirement village and aged care provider in Victoria, we work to provide affordable and safe housing for elderly Victorians in need, whether they live independently, or in supported or aged care living. Many of our residents have lived within OCAV villages for ten years and longer, maintaining relationships with friends and families.
Our services – both safe, affordable housing and support for older Victorians – are in high demand. We currently have a waiting list of 1,00 across our four villages and we are seeking sites for additional villages to cater for this demand.
Our funding model: we support capital investment in affordable housing through contributions from those with financial resources and at the same time provide safe and dignified housing for those with very limited or no financial means.
Around 53 per cent of OCAV residents were either homeless or vulnerably housed while living with family of friends, in private rentals, public housing or in temporary accommodation before they moved into an OCAV village. Around 79% of our residents are single, older women.
The OCAV is pleased to make a submission the Victorian Government Budget 2018/2019.
This submission focuses on the need for more affordable retirement housing in Victoria. We also advocate for better health and wellbeing systems for older Victorians and improved public transport.
We welcome the many strides that have been made over the past year, including: Homes for Victorians and Public Housing Renewal Program.
However more investment in housing is required given years of inaction, the growing ageing population, and increasing homelessness. No health and wellbeing program or other services for older people can succeed without a house to live in.
Increasing housing options for older people
Housing should be viewed as infrastructure, rather than a social need.
Further funding is required to construct new residential aged care facilities and community retirement villages for older people, particularly homeless people with high needs and from low socio-economic backgrounds. This can be done through housing associations and housing providers, as well as NFPs who have partnered with private developers.
Further funding is required to put supports in place that allow elderly Victorians to ‘age in place’ independently. This is a priority as many elderly Victorians either do not own or cannot afford a home in which to age, or are living in unsafe public housing.
It is crucial to increase the stock of social and affordable housing available to older people. Victoria does not have enough public or social housing to meet demand. Funding has been made available to create 10,000 new public housing units and yet there are already 35,000 people on the waitlist. Further funding is required to address the demand.
It is crucial that social and public housing includes age-friendly accommodation, We continue to note that older people have been omitted from many of the terms of references and consultation papers on housing, for example the Public Housing Renewal Program. This is an oversight, and needs to be addressed urgently given that people over the age of 80 are now the fastest growing age group in Victoria. Further, seven million Australians aged 50 to 75 years are facing an extended life expectancy.
Funding should be put in place to adopt universal design principles to increase housing that meets accessibility standards.
Develop an older Victorians strategy
Victoria has no overarching strategy to meet the changing demands of an ageing population. In Victoria now there are 1.25 million people aged over 60 years accounting for more than 20 per cent of the population. The percentage of older Victorians is set to increase to 22.2% in Greater Melbourne and 30.5% in regional and rural Victoria by 2031.
A strategy would assist the Government to determine gaps and priorities for future funding across all portfolios. Such an approach would enable older people to lead happy, productive and dignified lives as they age.
Funding should be invested in employment, healthy ageing and participation, strengthening culture, supporting diversity and addressing vulnerability, prevention and response to elder abuse, carer recognition and support, access to services and affordable, safe and fair housing.
Health and wellbeing
Ensuring that older Victorians are active and healthy should be a priority to the government. Continued and increased funding for initiatives, like Living Longer Living Stronger, is important to help seniors participate in the community, improve their health and reduce their reliance on the health care system.
Enabling seniors to recover their mobility will assist inclusion and the ability to care for less able partners.
Mandate universal housing standards in the building code
Given the focus on age-in-place, meaning the home, the Victorian government can and should make more appropriate housing available for people with disability and older people, by mandating minimum accessibility requirements in the building code for residential housing.
People with disability and older people have different accessibility needs, which are often not provided for in standard housing design, and this can exclude them from mainstream housing.
The Victorian government undertook a regulatory impact statement in 2010 on mandating building code accessibility standards. The recommended changes have not yet been introduced. The proposed better apartment standards include some accessibility requirements, but these do not extend to detached housing.
Improve public transport accessibility
Victoria’s public transport system is not geared to an increasing number of older people requiring public transport options as they age.
The Victorian government can do more to support older people remain engaged with the community, healthy and in the workforce by investing in applying universal design to public transport.
Victoria suffers a significant legacy of inaccessible public transport infrastructure and vehicles due to underinvestment over many decades. Progress on achieving milestones under the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport has stalled, with the state’s public transport system unlikely to achieve 90 per cent compliance by the legally required date of 31 December 2017.
OCAV believes that universal design principles should be built into public transport procurement. Further it calls for more investment in public transport as current congestion compromises older people’s ability to use it.
OCAV also calls on the Victorian Government to invest in community transport which can be more cost-effective than taxis, ride-sourcing or local bus travel, particularly in rural and regional Victoria.
With changes to Home and Community Care services and the introduction of the NDIS, Victoria’s community transport is under threat, potentially resulting in people being forced to use high-cost, poor quality alternatives, or have no transport options at all.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2011.
Department of Health and Human Services, Public housing waiting and transfer list, June 2016.
Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, Falling through the cracks: poverty and disadvantage in Australia: focus on the States, Report Series No. 1, 2014.
Infrastructure Victoria, Victoria’s Draft 30-year Infrastructure Strategy, 2016,
Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, Access to Public Housing, PP No 118, 2012
CEO Phillip Wohlers has overseen some big changes at OCAV. But their model of personalised care and community building is something that won't change under his 'watch'.