Robert Fitzgerald AM has been appointed NSW’s first Ageing and Disability Commissioner, tasked with protecting adults with disability and older people.
Fitzgerald served on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse from 2013 to 2017 and has spent time as Productivity Commissioner and Community and Disability Services Commissioner.
He said he was proud to have the opportunity to lead the new Commission.
“I have spent my career helping to protect vulnerable people,” 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.”
Ombudsman Michael Barnes stressed the need for such a role last year, after compiling more than 200 cases of neglect and abuse committed mainly by family members.
Barnes’ office realised there was a gap in the system when incidents of mistreatment of those with disability in family and community settings grew with nowhere to officially report them.
The ombudsman’s office began a temporary standing inquiry to coordinate responses from government agencies in 2016, but only until July 1 2019.
Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said Fitzgerald is “exceptionally qualified for this challenging task”.
“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 disability.”