Commission to stop abuse

The most shocking cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation of older people and those with a disability will be investigated by a new state commissioner, championed by Kiama MP Gareth Ward.

Mr Ward said the NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner will start on July 1 this year, after a landmark Bill was passed by Parliament on Thursday evening.

The Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services said he was proud to have helped introduce these important reforms.

"Any civil society can be judged on how it treats its most vulnerable," Mr Ward told the Mercury.

"As a result of multiple public inquiries and reviews, we have heard about the most appalling instances of abuse, neglect and exploitation. That can take many forms - we've heard of family members taking advantage of an older person's confusion over power of attorney.

"We've heard of a person with a disability being forced to live in a garden shed, with the food provided also accessible to the family dog.

"What this commission will do is stamp out these sorts of cases, and it will have some serious powers to do that."

Mr Ward said the independent commission would have the power to initiate investigations, compel information from individuals or organisations, as well as apply for and execute search warrants with the assistance of police. And it will investigate issues that are not currently being addressed by other complaint and investigative bodies.

"It will deliver a statutory office that's there to be a vanguard of social justice to people who need it," Mr Ward said.

"It will investigate individual cases and also conduct inquiries into systemic abuse, and it will provide advice to government on a range of matters.

"As well it will educate the public on how people should be treated, and how to look out for signs of abuse and neglect. It will be a one-stop-shop for people's rights and protections."

The Commissioner will be announced soon, before starting work next month.