Adults with a disability and older people across the regions now have a powerful advocate in their corner with the appointment of Robert Fitzgerald AM as NSW’s first Ageing and Disability Commissioner.

The Commissioner began work this week tasked with protecting adults with disability and older people from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

NSW Nationals Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the strong, independent body will provide support and referral services for families as well as raise awareness through education programs.

“The Commissioner will be given the power to initiate investigations, compel information from individuals or organisations, as well as apply for and execute search warrants with the assistance of police,” Ms Cooke said. “The Commissioner will also have the capacity to help our community detect cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation through education and awareness programs.”

Multiple public inquiries have highlighted opportunities for Government to strengthen safeguards for adults with disability and older people.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said it marks an important milestone in the state’s history.

“Never before has our state had a body specifically tasked with investigating allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults with disability and older people,” Mr Ward said. “The NSW Government is committed to protecting the vulnerable. We won’t just talk about what can be done – we are delivering real reform that will change lives for the better.”

To get in touch with the Commissioner’s Helpline, call 1800 628 221 (business hours Monday to Friday) or visit www.ageingdisabilitycommission.nsw.gov.au for more information.