Robert Fitzgerald will resign as New South Wales Ageing and Disability Commissioner to take up a new position with the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Commissioner Fitzgerald – one of the nation’s most distinguished public servants – will begin a five-year term as Age Discrimination Commissioner in April, replacing Kay Patterson who vacated the role last July.
Announcing the new appointment on Tuesday, Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said Commissioner Fitzgerald would lead the HRC’s work to address barriers to equality for older people and protect them from discrimination in education, employment, accommodation and the provision of good and services.
Commissioner Fitzgerald said he was quitting his post with regret and it was a difficult decision. However, he said his new role will allow him to continue to promote the rights of all people “to live free from discrimination based on age across Australia and internationally.”
“In particular, the role will advance the rights of older people to live free from discrimination and abuse in all aspects of their life,” he said in a statement.
The Older Persons Advocacy Network welcomed Mr Fitzgerald’s appointment. He was, said OPAN chief executive officer Craig Gear, “an exceptional candidate” for the role.
“A long-time advocate for the human rights of older people and the prevention of elder abuse, Mr Fitzgerald is highly respected within the aged care sector.”
Mr Gear said OPAN looked forward to engaging with Mr Fitzgerald at a national level at what is “a critical time” for the rights of older people.
“The ongoing issues around enduring power of attorney are of a significant concern. This is an area we hope Mr Fitzgerald will champion.”
Commissioner Fitzgerald’s long career in NSW and federally includes working as deputy NSW ombudsman, as a productivity commissioner and as a commissioner on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. He has also served as President of the Australian Council of Social Services.
He will commence his role with the commission on Tuesday April 2.