RVA’s changing of the guard

With all the negotiations and arrangements in place, it’s now up to RVA members to agree to wind up the ten year old national body and merge with the Property Council of Australia.

CEO of the Retirement Village Association, Andrew Giles

By Keryn Curtis

Retirement Village Association (RVA) members  are only two weeks away from a vote that would see their organisation formally terminated and its resources and residual assets transferred to a new Retirement Living Council under the umbrella of the Property Council of Australia (PCA). [Click on the link to see AAA’s previous story at the time of the announcement]

On 14 November, at their annual general meeting, RVA members will vote on the special resolution to formalise the unanimous decision of the boards of both the RVA and the PCA to form a merger.   

Under the terms of the merger, the two Boards have agreed to create a new leadership group – the Retirement Living Council – as a new division of the Property Council.  This new Retirement Living Council will comprise around 20 of Australia’s leading for-profit and not-for-profit organisations, tasked to spearhead advocacy and public affairs for the industry.

Other RVA members, not members of the Retirement Living Council, will become members of the Property Council and receive the benefits of that membership. If the resolution is carried on 14 November, the new model would begin on 1 January 2013.

RVA CEO, Andrew Giles, said under the merger, the RVA would be absorbed into the broader PCA structure as one of the organisation’s key areas of focus. 

“They have three key leadership areas.  There is a residential development council; then there is a shopping centres council; the third one is the international capital markets; and RVA will form the fourth with the new Retirement Living Council.  

“It has been a very successful model for the PCA.  They’ve seen their membership grow over the last decade and we are hoping our membership will in turn continue to grow.  By getting some of the resources of the PCA and the muscle, we will be much better positioned to undertake the research and take the risks needed to see growth in that field. 

“The merger will give us a huge amount of lobbying muscle.  The PCA has 95 staff across Australia and more than thirty are dedicated policy staff.  Last year they spent in excess of $6 million on advocacy,” he said.

The other big benefit for RVA members in the merger is the strength of the Property Council’s general member services around the country.  

“The PCA is a big organisation.  It has a $26 million annual turnover and it runs 370-odd events a year with conferences, education and networking events etcetera.  So the scope of services available will be massive. 

“There is a whole infrastructure in place in every state with high value member services.  We want to tap into that and run some specific retirement living events and education,” said Mr Giles.

While the details of the proposed merger do not directly address the intersection between retirement living and care services for older people, Mr Giles said the open and cooperative relationship with the aged care industry would continue and “where there are crossovers with aged care, we would go as one voice on relevant issues.”

The merger plan

Mr Giles said if RVA members agree the merger is a good thing when they vote on 14 November, they will automatically become members of the PCA to the end of the 2012-13 financial year.  

“Then there will be another opportunity for some members to become part of the new Retirement Living Council, which will commence on 1 January 2013.

“Members will have six months to see all the benefits of it before 1 July 2013 when they will be asked to sign up to continue their membership.”

He said the membership of the Retirement Living Council will be largely based on size however three places out of the twenty or so on the council will be set aside for smaller organisations to ensure their interests are represented

One of the changes that reflects a shift in direction for RVA is the dropping of the word, ‘villages’ from the name of the organisation.

“To be a member of the RVA, currently you must be a registered retirement village under your respective state legislation.  By dropping the retirement villages label, it enables discussion around other parts of the seniors housing sector that may see a benefit in being involved. 

“For example, rental villages,” said Mr Giles.  “Apparently there are upwards of 300 in Australia and people should be able to have access to whatever affordable accommodation they choose to meet their needs.  So as the industry evolves and changes, we need to be able to reflect that.”

Mr Giles said the first issue the new entity would be tackling is the problem of different state based retirement village legislation.

“At present we have retirement villages operating under different legislation on a jurisdiction by jurisdiction basis.  So we are talking about developing some model legislation.  And we need good research to show the benefits that retirement communities can offer people in having more choice about how they live and age well.

Under the terms of the merger, some RVA staff will come across to the PCA and all the state level committees will remain in place under the new structure.

Ironically, there is no long term role for Andrew Giles in the PCA plan.  He will be there for the transition period and says he will be involved in recruiting an executive director for the new Council very soon. 

“I’ve been asked to stay on for six months to bed down the merger and help manage the transition process to the new organisation.  And I will be helping to recruit an executive director, who will be someone with strong, high level government relations skills,” he said.  

To proceed, the merger needs 75 per cent of RVA member votes in favour of the move, something Mr Giles says he is confident will be achieved.

“It is inevitable that there will be a few concerns, some apprehension about how it will work and what it will be like at individual member village level. But I think most members have a good degree of confidence.  And we will know have done job well when people recognise the benefits. 

“We found that the PCA and the RVA are culturally quite similar.  If your values are aligned then that really helps,” Mr Giles said.

Tags: andrew-giles, merger, property-council-of-australia, retirement-living-council, retirement-village-association, rva,

1 thought on “RVA’s changing of the guard

  1. I wondered how long the RVA’s alignment with aged care would last. I think the newer members will be more comfortable in the Property Council

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