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Robert Fitzgerald commences as Age Discrimination Commissioner

Age Discrimination
Age Discrimination Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald

Australia’s new Age Discrimination Commissioner, Robert Fitzgerald AM, said due to the country’s rapidly ageing population, every effort is required to better secure the wellbeing and safety of older Australians. A nationally consistent approach, he adds, is essential to empower older people and ensure they live safely with dignity and agency.

Commissioner Fitzgerald, who commenced in the role on Tuesday 2 April, said his immediate and long-term priorities were to eliminate ageism and age discrimination in Australian workplaces and in the health and social service sectors, improve protections against the abuse of older persons in all its forms, and see Australia’s anti-discrimination laws harmonised at state and commonwealth levels.

“I am honoured to continue the more than a decade’s work of my predecessors, the Hon Dr Kay Patterson AO and the late Hon Susan Ryan AO, and further address the delicate and intersecting needs of our ageing population.” Commissioner Fitzgerald said.

“There is a plethora of evidence, including from recent Royal Commissions, that clearly demonstrates the wellbeing of older people is not being sufficiently supported in practice.”

Commissioner Fitzgerald said the pending aged care reforms should be seen as just the start, with Australian governments and institutions encouraged to rethink their entire approach to older people across all sectors.

“Older people must be empowered to have a voice, enabled to know their rights, and those in vulnerable or unsafe relationships better protected,” he said.

Prior to becoming Commissioner, Mr Fitzgerald was the NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner, and was previously an Australian Productivity Commissioner, NSW Community and Disability Services Commissioner, and Deputy Ombudsman.

Commissioner Fitzgerald: “The way we go about our lives has fundamentally changed, and our human rights agenda and policy must reflect our changing world.

“For example, it is clear we are employing more older people, but too many are devalued in the workplace. Australia needs to break this cycle of ageism in our workplaces.

“It is essential we bring down barriers facing older people so they can contribute their talents and experience to the workforce and ensure respectful treatment.

“We must find ways to ensure older Australians live free from abuse, by implementing effective adult safeguarding mechanisms across the nation, and ensure this right is extended to culturally and linguistically diverse and First Nations communities."

The Age Discrimination Commissioner is a statutory position within the Australian Human Rights Commission, established under the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth) The position is responsible for addressing barriers to equality and participation caused by age discrimination, and protecting Australians of all ages from discrimination on the basis of age in employment, education, accommodation and the provision of goods and services. 

Commissioner Fitzgerald: “Older people may experience various forms of discrimination not just because of their age. They may also experience discrimination due to their race, disability, or sex. Meeting these intersecting needs is critical work and requires dedication and collaboration. 

“I look forward to working with stakeholders, including community advocates, organisations, those in the health and social service sectors, the business community, all levels of government, as well as my fellow Commissioners at the Australian Human Rights Commission, to champion the rights of all Australians, no matter their age or background.”

ENDS | Media contact: or 0457 281 897