Image of older man in suit and tie with glasses and text "I look forward to ensuring the Commission responds effectively where there has been harm and helping to create an environment where people feel safe in their community."

Robert Fitzgerald AM has been appointed as the NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner from the beginning of this month. The NSW Disability and Ageing Commission has been established to focus on abuse and neglect that occurs in both family and community settings.

The Commissioner is a new statuary authority which aims to strengthen the State’s ability to respond to abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disability and the elderly in home and community settings. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Mr. Fitzgerald brings enormous knowledge and experience to the role, having served on the Royal Commission into Institution Responses to Child Sexual Abuse from 2013 to 2017 and having spent time as Productivity Commissioner and Community and Disability Services Commissioner.

“We will not tolerate the abuse, neglect and exploitation of our most vulnerable citizens which is why we have introduced a new Ageing and Disability Commissioner,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Robert Fitzgerald will lead the Commission and ensure adults with disability and seniors across NSW are protected.”

Mr. Fitzgerald will have 70 fulltime staff and wide-ranging powers to investigate abuse, including the ability to seek warrants, and refer cases to the Director of Public Prosecution and the police.Mr. Fitzgerald said he is proud to have been given the opportunity to lead the Commission to protect adults with disability and older people in community settings.

“I have spent my career helping to protect vulnerable people,” Mr Fitzgerald said. “I look forward to ensuring the Commission responds effectively where there has been harm and helping to create an environment where people feel safe in their community.”

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the Commission will be strong and independent.“Mr. Fitzgerald’s deep experience and powerful intellect make him exceptionally qualified for this challenging task,” Mr. Ward said. “I look forward to working with Mr. Fitzgerald to support and protect vulnerable people and secure the best possible outcomes for older people and adults with a disability.”

Minister for Seniors John Sidoti said the Commissioner will play an important role.“The Commissioner will have the power to initiate investigations but also the capacity to help the community spot cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation through education and awareness programs,” Mr. Sidoti said.

The NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner has been appointed after consultation with community members and leaders in the disability sector, following the 2018 report from the NSW Ombudsman on Abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults in NSW – the need for action. A special report to Parliament under section 31 of the Ombudsman Act 1974. The report found that there were significant infringements of the rights of adults with disability and that there was an urgent need for better safeguards and protections for vulnerable adults in the community. The appointment also comes in the wake of the Parliamentary Inquiry into elder abuse and the implementation of the NDIS in NSW, which likewise highlighted the need for the Government to more adequately respond to and prevent cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable people.

CONTACT DETAILS:
Phone: 1800 628 221
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Web: www.ageingdisabilitycommission.nsw.gov.au 
You can read more about the Commissioner in our directory listing by clicking here