Ageing and Disability Commission
- New South Wales
Fourth Action Plan actions
- Respect, listen and respond to the diverse lived experience and knowledge of women and their children affected by violence
- 11 Deliver policies and services to address the disproportionate impact of violence on particular groups.
What are we doing?
NSW Government established an Ageing and Disability Commission from 1 July 2019 to protect and promote the rights of adults with disability and older adults, and protect them from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The Commission’s roles under the (NSW) Ageing and Disability Commissioner Act 2019 (the Act), include:
- responding to allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults with disability and older adults (65 years and over or, if Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, 50 years and over), including by providing advice, making referrals and conducting investigations
- raising awareness and educating the public about matters relating to the abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults with disability and older adults
- inquiring into and reporting on systemic issues relating to the protection and promotion of the rights, or the abuse, neglect and exploitation, of adults with disability and older adults, including making recommendations to government; and,
- administering the NSW Official Community Visitor scheme.
The ADC includes the NSW Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline (formerly known as the Elder Abuse Helpline and Resource Unit).
What have we achieved so far?
Between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2021, the ADC received 23,533 calls to the NSW Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline, and handled 5,862 reports about adults with disability and older people who were subject to, or at risk of, abuse, neglect and exploitation; and 3,055 enquiries. Of the 5,862 reports received by the ADC, 3,778 (64%) were about abuse, neglect and exploitation of women, including:
- women made up of two-thirds of the reports about older people
- over half (55%) of the reports about adults with disability
The Ageing and Disability Commission’s actions in relation to these matters include:
- facilitating referrals to appropriate bodies, such as NSW Police, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, legal services, counselling services, and advocacy and other supports;
- conducting further preliminary inquiries in order to determine how best to respond to the report, including whether to commence an investigation
- working with the involved adult and services to improve supports to the adult and their family (where appropriate), and improve the safety and wellbeing of the adult; and
- conducting investigations and taking further actions that are needed to protect the adult with disability or older person.
In relation to communications and community engagement activities, between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2021, the ADC:
- attended 136 community engagements, talks, forums and in-services supporting service providers and the broader community to understand the role of the ADC, and increase awareness in their detection and response to abuse, neglect and exploitation of older people and adults with disability in the family, home and community;
- distributed approximately 65,000 flyers, brochures and information packs across NSW;
- reached over 116,000 followers across social media for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June 2020, and over 159,300 engagements for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in 2021 raising awareness about the abuse of older people and their rights ;
- worked with people with disability in 2019, and the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2020, to support International Day of People with Disability (occurring annually on 3 December), raising awareness about the rights of people with disability ;
- released a training module in August 2020 for frontline staff supporting adults with disability and older people, on identifying and responding to abuse, neglect and exploitation. Between August and 31 December 2020, 1,184 users have accessed the module via the ADC website, with feedback identifying that critical professions have engaged and completed the module, including community support workers in both the ageing and disability sectors, registered nurses, case managers and personal carers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected the ADC’s community engagement activities and events, notwithstanding a shift to online options. While the number of calls and reports to the ADC was stable during the first lockdown in Sydney (2020), there was a significant increase following the lifting of restrictions. The ADC is experiencing the same situation with the current COVID-19 Delta outbreak lockdown in Sydney, and is expecting a substantial increase in demand once restrictions are lifted.
What is next?
The ADC will continue to actively engage with community groups, service providers and stakeholders to promote the Helpline and the ADC, and improve early identification of, and response to matters relating to the abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults with disability and older people. Among other things, the ADC is working to:
- extend community engagement and training activities, including development of a training module for service managers
- increase the number of community-based abuse prevention collaborative across NSW
- foster productive relationships with relevant agencies to enable effective cooperation and timely support to improve outcomes for adults with disability and older people, and build their capacity to appropriate identify and act on abuse
- regularly publicly report ADC data on reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults with disability and older people in NSW.
What difference will we make?
The NSW Government takes its responsibility to safeguard the most vulnerable members of our community seriously. Unfortunately, people with disability and older people can be more vulnerable to abuse, neglect and exploitation. A number of reviews and inquiries highlighted opportunities for the NSW Government to do more to address this issue.
The establishment of the Commission is intended to address the concerns and gaps identified in these reports, by strengthening our ability to respond to the abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults with disability and older adults in home and community settings.