Things to watch

New NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner warns retirement village operators

The new tough-talking Commissioner, Robert Fitzgerald AM warned village operators at the recent Property Council’s NSW Annual Retirement Forum that he would follow in the footsteps of the Royal Commission’s territory and crackdown on abuse in people’s homes, including retirement villages.

Commissioner Fitzgerald told village operators that they will be expected to produce any documents, from emails to Post It notes, and provide access to any premises to show their commitment to ending abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly in the community.

 Appointed to the new role on 1st July 2019, Mr Fitzgerald will have wide-ranging powers to conduct investigations into allegations of abuse and neglect.  He made it absolutely clear that he will use his powers to end elder abuse.

  • “Unless values are lived, they will falter.” 
  • “If incentives are not aligned with those values, the incentives will win, and abuse will occur.”
  • “Misconduct will happen because of failures of leadership and culture.  You show us we can trust you.”

Mr Fitzgerald gave examples of what would constitute abuse, including the case of a retirement village resident who was told by an electrician he had been warned by the Village Manager that she was a troublemaker – an act he termed psychological abuse.

He told the audience, “To believe this is a lilywhite industry is ridiculous!”