The most vulnerable in society will be better protected from abuse, neglect and exploitation under a landmark bill introduced by the NSW Government in Parliament.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the reform will create the State’s first powerful and independent Ageing and Disability Commissioner.
“Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in the number of incidents of older people and people with a disability being mistreated in the community,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“We will not tolerate the abuse, neglect and exploitation of our most vulnerable citizens.”
The Commissioner will be given the power to initiate investigations into allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation, compel information from individual or organisations, as well as apply for and execute a search warrant to conduct an investigation.
Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the role of the Commissioner fills a gap currently not addressed by complaint and investigative bodies.
“As the first Minister for Disabilities to have a disability, I’m proud to help introduce these important reforms into Parliament,” Mr Ward said. “This bill goes beyond politics and will help people feel safe and respected in their home and in the community.”
“A number of public inquiries and reviews have highlighted opportunities for Government to strengthen safeguards for people with disability and older people. We will consider these recommendations and support the people this commission will seek to protect.”
Deputy Chair of the Disability Council of NSW Professor Eileen Baldry said the announcement is a critical step in the right direction.
“This is an important step to ensure people with disability and seniors in our community are protected from any form of mistreatment. We look forward to working with the Commissioner to support health and wellbeing outcomes for our community’s most vulnerable,” Professor Baldry said.
The Ageing and Disability Commissioner officially starts on 1 July 2019.