The mandatory internal dispute resolution document sets out your village’s procedures for handling complaints about management and mediating disputes between residents.
Use plain, non-technical language and, if appropriate, make the document available in alternative formats for people with different needs – for example, an audio version or language translations.
What the document must cover
How residents can complain
- where and when residents can make complaints. The times and places must not be unreasonably restrictive
- the name of the person/s who can take complaints. You must not require residents to put complaints in writing. However, you may describe how a resident can lodge a written complaint if they prefer.
How the complaint will be handled
This must set out the process for handling complaints about management, and the process for mediating disputes between residents.
We recommend including at least:
- how the complaint will be acknowledged
- how the resident/s concerned, or their representatives, will be kept informed of progress and advised about outcomes
- the manager’s procedures for complying with the statutory obligations to record and report on complaints and disputes
- standard steps the manager will take in attempting to resolve complaints and disputes and, where possible, the expected timeframes.
For example, first steps in dealing with a resident dispute would be to:
- confirm in writing with the complainant the issues to be resolved and outcomes sought
- put this written summary to the resident who was the subject of the complaint, inviting them to respond to the manager within a specified timeframe, that is reasonable given the circumstances, and in a way that confirms the issues and desired outcome. Managers will need to allow time after this occurs, to make enquiries that establish the facts and options for addressing the resident’s concerns.
Other options for dispute resolution
The document must inform residents that they may seek information and advice from Consumer Affairs Victoria, and include details on how they can contact us. We can provide advice but not directly conciliate disputes between residents.
The resident may also choose to have a dispute with another resident handled by the residents’ committee; however the law does not require this option to be included in the internal dispute resolution document.
Other things to cover
We recommend the document also include details of what information must be recorded, by law, about a dispute or complaint.
For more information, view our Recording information about a retirement village complaint or dispute page.
New penalties for non-compliance
We can now use infringement notices in responding to certain breaches of the Retirement Villages Act 1986, including failure to document:
- a complaint procedure, and
- a mediation procedure.
The maximum penalty for these infringements is 12 penalty units ($1903.00). Our inspectors will issue infringements in accordance with our compliance policy.
Keeping residents informed about the dispute resolution scheme
While not a legal obligation, it is good practice to remind residents regularly of the dispute resolution scheme in a variety of ways - for example:
- by having copies of the internal dispute resolution document in a visible location with easy access, so residents and their families can take a copy without having to ask
- through newsletters or other information provided regularly to residents
- through posters and leaflets in common or high-use areas
- by providing a reminder during resident meetings
- by including information in pre-contract and contract information for new residents
- in mail-outs to residents' families.
Publicise any change in the dispute resolution procedures and make sure you update your internal dispute resolution document.