THE NSW Government has announced that an independent Ageing and Disability Commissioner will be established in NSW to investigate the abuse of older people, and adults with a disability “in home and community settings”. The NSW Minister for Ageing’s office confirmed that this will not include residential aged care facilities or NDIS-funded group homes.
The Commissioner will be given special powers, which will include the power to initiate investigations off its own bat or following a referral or complaint. The Commissioner will also have the power to apply for and execute a search warrant and seize evidence.
The Commissioner is to work closely with the new Specialist Elder Abuse Officers, who will be introduced in each NSW Police command, to undertake crime prevention and investigate matters where a criminal offence may be involved.
The Commissioner is to work closely with the agencies responsible for protecting people when they are receiving disability and aged care services (the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner).
Responsibility for the Elder Abuse Helpline & Resource Unit will also move to the Commissioner. The Helpline will be strengthened by the addition of an investigative function.
The Government has said that the Commissioner will start on 1 July 2019.
The establishment of an independent Ageing and Disability Commissioner in New South Wales is a most welcome move.