NSW Government introduces ageing and disability commissioner to ‘stamp out’ abuse
NSW will introduce an independent ageing and disability commissioner with powers to issue search warrants and trigger investigations to help “stamp out” abuse.
Announcing the plan on Saturday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the commissioner, to be introduced from July 1, would have sweeping powers to carry-on from the work of the NSW ombudsmen.
“The commissioner will have a specific focus,” the Premier siad.
“He or she will have the resources and the ability to go into premises to actually ensure that if there are complaints — or if the commissioner themselves wants to start a formal investigation — they’ll have those powers.
“That’s why it’s important for us to have a particular focus.
“There is too much under reporting [in this area].”
The announcement comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed plans for a royal commision into aged care in September following a string of disturbing cases involving abuse, neglect and mistreatment in nursing homes throughout the country.
The royal commission will kick off in February, however there have been concerns from some sectors over the lack of information available to the public.
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Ms Berejiklian said the commissioner would have a “strong relationship” with his or her federal counterparts.
“I think this [move] will allow people to have the courage to come forward and talk about these issues [and] also put on notice anyone who thinks it’s ok to take advantage of someone in a vulnerable position,” she said.
The move to introduce the commissioner has come after an increase in calls to the elder abuse hotline, and work from the NSW ombudsmen standing inquiry.
The Premier said she had also listened to community requests for it.
Ayda Celin, whose father David Nabulsi was a man abused on camera in Seaforth Bupa home, welcomed the move but said it needed to “happen now”.
“I’m happy to see the Government is taking action,” she said.
“[But] as we speak someone’s family member is getting abused and can’t fend for themselves.
“I’m hoping [shining a] light on dad’s abuse will help change and make a difference in our aged care homes.