Retirement Living Council criticises budget for neglecting older Australians

The Retirement Living Council (RLC) has voiced strong concerns over the Australian government’s FY25 Budget, calling it a missed opportunity for addressing the pressing housing needs of older Australians.

RLC Executive Director Daniel Gannon made clear that while the budget makes strides in some areas, it overlooks a significant and growing segment of the population.

“This is a budget that focuses on the housing needs of some Australians but forgets about a large cohort of older people and the challenges associated with age-friendly accommodation and care,” said Gannon.

Highlighting the demographic shift, Gannon noted, “The number of people aged over 75 around the country will increase by 70 per cent by 2040, which should lead to governments prioritising what is required to house this ‘silver tsunami’.”

He criticised the lack of action on senior housing, pointing out the government’s silence on including purpose-built seniors’ housing in the Prime Minister’s 1.2 million new homes target. Gannon also expressed frustration over the lack of response to the Aged Care Taskforce recommendations, which he feels leaves both consumers and operators in uncertainty.

“Given the government is the judge, jury, and executioner of this Taskforce and having already had five months to consider their own findings, noncommunication signals one of two things: it’s either bad news for consumers or it’s bad news for operators,” Gannon stated. “But until we hear from the government, both parties remain in the dark.”

Gannon emphasised the urgency of the situation, stating, “The unfortunate reality is that Australians aren’t getting any younger, and every day that passes without a plan to appropriately and affordably house and care for older Australians is a missed opportunity. If this is a pro-housing budget for all Australians, I’d hate to see one that isn’t.”

In its policy recommendation, the RLC urges the government to integrate retirement community units into the Housing Accord target of 1.2 million new homes by 2029. Gannon argues that increasing the number of retirement communities is a straightforward and beneficial move, providing age-friendly and care-focused accommodation for seniors while freeing up existing homes for younger buyers and families.

The RLC highlighted the government’s own National Housing Supply and Affordability Council’s forecast of a 300,000-home shortfall against its target. Gannon pointed out that the 67,000 retirement dwellings needed to meet current demand would close that gap by 22 per cent.

“The ongoing exclusion of units in retirement communities from the Accord target is worrisome but can be rectified at any time,” Gannon remarked. “It is in fact a very simple fix that can be addressed with a laptop and a bullet point.”

The RLC’s stance is clear: the government must act now to ensure that older Australians are not left behind in the housing crisis.

Image credit: ECH

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