TGB Media and Press

Minister to release first report into disability care, after Ann Marie Smith death

Calls to reboot a scheme that checks on vulnerable South Australians have been backed by the state’s legal fraternity, as the first report of a task force looking into disability
safeguards is set for release on Tuesday.
Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink is expected to make a statement to Parliament and release the interim report on Tuesday afternoon. The task force was set
up amid public horror at the death of SA woman Ann Marie Smith, who was a client of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
SA Police is investigating the circumstances leading to her “disgusting and degrading” death in April, from severe septic shock and multiple organ failure.
In a statement to The Advertiser, the SA Law Society backed a Labor plan to revive parts of the state’s Community Visitor Scheme that were cut back after disability care
services moved from state to federal control in 2018.
Law Society SA president Tim White said a lack of connection between the two levels of government raised the risk of abuse for vulnerable people.
“There are currently federal and state laws designed to protect people with disability from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, but the current regimes have significant
gaps, in part due to the way the … jurisdictions interact,” he said.
“Those gaps can have grave consequences for the safety of people with disability in the community. The proposed implementation of a Community Visitor Scheme with
appropriate safeguards … would go a significant way to providing a legal safety net and addressing some of these.”

The Law Society, which has made a submission to the task force, also proposes Opposition human services spokeswoman Nat Cook said the interim report should have
been released immediately, with firm action taken.
“We’ve got confidence in the role of the Community Visitor,” she said. “Restoration and strengthening is one of the first moves needed to be made.”
Ms Lensink said the Law Society had also highlighted “significant shortfalls” in Labor’s plan that needed more work.