NSW Government Introduces Bill To Establish Ageing and Disability Commissioner

Monday 20 May 2019 @ 12.22 p.m. | Legal Research

The Ageing and Disability Commissioner Bill 2019 (the “Bill”) was introduced to the NSW Parliament’s Legislative Assembly on 8 May 2019, by Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, the Hon Gareth Ward. The object of the legislation is to establish a new position of Ageing and Disability Commissioner. The Bill is currently before the Legislative Assembly and is proposed to amend the following NSW Acts:

  • Community Services (Complaints, Reviews and Monitoring) Act 1993;
  • Coroners Act 2009;
  • Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009;
  • Government Sector Employment Act 2013;
  • Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002;
  • Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002; and
  • Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998.


As noted in the Bill’s Explanatory Note (“EN”), the intention of the legislation will be to:

“… protect and promote the rights of adults with disability and older adults and to protect those adults from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The Bill establishes the office of Ageing and Disability Commissioner (the Commissioner) and provides for the Commissioner’s functions …”

The Bill also establishes an Ageing and Disability Advisory Board (the “Board”) and also according to the EN, provides “that the Official Community Visitor program, to the extent that it relates to visits to accommodation provided to adults with disability and certain boarding houses, is to be administered by the Commissioner instead of the Ombudsman as is currently the case”.

Commenting to the Sydney Morning Herald (“SMH”) NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (the “Premier”) said the reform would complement any findings that arise out of the Federal Royal Commission into Aged Care. She said:

"If there are additional findings that come out of the royal commission which aren't covered currently in NSW, of course we will deal with those."

Powers of the Commissioner

The Premier also said in a Media Release “the reform will create the State’s first powerful and independent Ageing and Disability Commissioner.”

It is envisaged 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.

Comment and Reaction

Speaking to the SMH, the Premier said:

“… the community was now ‘on notice’ that the commissioner would have the power to investigate the mistreatment and abuse of older people and people with a disability. Having a commissioner with wide-ranging powers means that, if you intend, intentionally, to take advantage of someone vulnerable, or someone with a disability, or someone who is ageing, you won't get away with it …”

Professor Eileen Baldry, Deputy Chair of the Disability Council of NSW, 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.”

Chairwoman of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing, Kathryn Greiner (who is on the panel which will select the new Commissioner), said there was a need for a position to “cut through” the plethora of other services that already existed. Ms Greiner said:

“Our seniors need to be able to age at home, in a retirement village or an ageing facility but they need to be able to do it safely. This legislation is landmark, it’s the first one in Australia.”

Speaking on the Bill, the Minister explained in his Second Reading Speech:

“The principles also recognise that adults with disability and older adults may face multiple disadvantage and are potentially more vulnerable to abuse, neglect and exploitation. This may particularly be so if the adult with disability … The bill encourages people to bring instances of abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults with disability and older adults to the attention of the commissioner to ensure the protection of these adults by giving the reporter a number of protections …”

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.


Related Articles: