The Western Australian Government is expected to soon announce a range of new policies to improve housing choice for seniors, some three years after publicly floating some potential major changes.
In 2016, the government released a seniors housing discussion paper. The paper noted that the number of people aged between 65 and 84 in the State was expected to double to one million by 2050. The paper also stated that the number of people aged more than 85 will quadruple during the same period.
“WA has always been a great place to raise a family and is being increasingly recognised as a prime retirement destination. There is an opportunity to position the State as one of the best places in Australia to raise a family and stay in the retirement years,” the discussion paper says.
The paper suggested a number of ground-breaking ideas to supported increased seniors housing supply, including:
- Introducing a grant, or government support for bridging finance, for downsizers
- Requiring seniors’ housing to be built in all large-scale developments, and housing for seniors to be included in all local government housing plans
- Supporting seniors to “downsize in place” by allowing them to make better use of existing larger properties, such as supporting dual-key, ancillary dwellings or shared living models
- Encouraging the universal design of new homes, and retrofitting of existing homes, so they are more suitable and safer for seniors
- Supporting low interest loans, or shared equity home loans, for seniors
- Improving education for “pre-seniors” about preparing for retirement.
Downsizing.com.au approached the WA Department of Communities for an update on government action on the discussion paper. The discussion paper was meant to be followed by a Seniors Housing Strategy, but this strategy has yet to be released.
In response, the Department’s Assistant Director General, Policy and Service Design Helen Nys stated: “After extensive consultation with government, industry, the community sector and older Western Australians, the Department has developed a series of options to improve housing choice for older people and allow them to age well in their community of choice.”
“The options are currently under consideration by the State Government.”
A Departmental spokesman confirmed the options would require approval by the WA Government’s Cabinet.
According to research undertaken by Downsizing.com.au, the government received feedback (following the release of the discussion paper) that seniors were not particularly keen to live in ‘inter-generational’ developments, with a wide range of age groups in the one complex.
“Seniors overwhelmingly rejected intergenerational housing and stated a clear preference for seniors-only complexes because other households were considered too loud and disruptive,” the summary report by Shelter WA said.