A SURVEY aimed at gaining a greater understanding of the caravan park and residential villages’ population on the Mornington Peninsula found that 63 per cent are aged over 70, most are single women, and nearly 90 per cent rely on the age pension as their main source of income.
The survey was compiled by the Peninsula Residential Parks and Villages Group and focus groups convened in April and August. Responses were received by 164 of the 600 residents at four core parks: Peninsula Parklands, Hastings, which has 220 permanent residents; Mornington Gardens, Mornington, (also 220); Dromana Holiday Village (80); and Peninsula Holiday Park, Dromana (40).
The survey found that social isolation was an issue and that the “perceived responsibilities of management to residents was minimal at best”.
The organisers admit that the outcomes of the survey are “somewhat limited” as they were unable to engage with residents at all of the shire’s 42 diverse parks and villages.
The aim of the survey was to improve the standards and quality of living in residential parks and villages by speaking with residents, identifying primary areas of concern and developing strategies for advocacy and action around those issues identified.
The outcomes will help guide the shire’s strategic planning and goal setting for permanent residents living in parks and villages.
About 40 per cent of residents were deemed “not fully aware of their legislative rights and responsibilities” and that there was confusion over the nature and length of leases. Access to public transport was found to be a “critical issue for an ageing community”.
Two thirds said they had “no access” to public transport, which presents difficulties, especially for the elderly when shopping or attending medical appointments – and more expensive if they have to order taxis.
Support for the survey came from Mornington Peninsula Shire and the Housing and Aged Action Group, who acknowledge that caravan parks and residential villages have become a “significant form of housing on the peninsula for an estimated 1000 residents”.
The parks provide increasingly important security of tenure for older people in an “era of decreasing housing affordability”.
Some cater solely for holiday-makers and not permanent residents, while others cater to “annuals” who own or rent a cabin and can stay in it for a specified number of days each year. The “most recent” trend is towards the purpose-built residential village for permanent residents aged over 55.
Mixed-use parks housing permanent residents and holiday-makers are said to be the norm on the peninsula, with 98 per cent of respondents identifying as owners or renters.
The survey found almost half of residents (48 per cent) are aged 70-80 years with another 15 per cent aged 80 and over. Singles comprise 58 per cent of residents of which two-thirds are women; couples make up 38 per cent and 2.5 per cent are living with children.
Most park residents stay an average seven years although eight had lived in their park for more than 20 years and one for 31 years. Most relinquish their lease when they die, making the plausibility of a 99-year lease debatable.
The survey concluded that fees paid within some of the parks “requires further investigation”