What has been learnt since Ann-Marie Smith’s death to help protect other people with disability
The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability will hold its fourteenth public hearing in Adelaide from 7-11 June. It will be the second in a series of Royal Commission hearings to examine how disability service providers prevent and respond to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.
The Royal Commission will focus on evidence relating to two particular case studies which detail the recent experiences of people with disability using supported accommodation services provided by the South Australian Department of Human Services.
The Royal Commission will also examine what has been learnt since Ann-Marie Smith’s death to help protect other people with disability. While criminal and coronial investigations are ongoing, there have been two major reports which have examined the circumstances surrounding the death of Adelaide woman on 6 April 2020.
Ms Smith lived with cerebral palsy and at the time of her death was found to be suffering among other things, septic shock, multiple organ failure, severe pressure sores and malnutrition.
In Public hearing 14 the Royal Commission will look at how the South Australian and Commonwealth governments, including the National Disability Insurance Agency and the National Disability Insurance Scheme Quality and Safeguards Commission, have responded to these past reports and their recommendations.
As with the first hearing in this series, it is anticipated that broader systemic issues regarding proper safeguards and accountability which emerge as a result of the Royal Commission’s scrutiny of these case studies will be explored further in subsequent public hearings.
The Chair of the Royal Commission, the Hon Ronald Sackville AO QC, has explained in previous hearings how the living arrangements experienced by people with disability are a key area of inquiry for the Royal Commission.
‘Evidence from people with lived experience of disability is designed not only to tell their individual stories but to use those stories to identify the policy and regulatory issues that the Royal Commission must address. In our public hearings we intend to go beyond examining specific cases of abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation – important as that is – and to consider what can be done to give practical effect to the principles underlying the UN Convention and the rights Australia is obliged to recognise and protect under international law.’
Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission for Public hearing 14 is Kate Eastman SC.
Media and the general public will be welcome to attend this public hearing at the Adelaide Convention Centre in person. This remains subject to change depending on COVID-19 health advice nearer the hearing date.
The hearing will be livestreamed on the Disability Royal Commission’s website and include live captioning and Auslan-English interpreters.
Please note a dedicated room will be available to media. Journalists wishing to cover the hearing should notify the DRC media team to ensure access to relevant information and material, including live transcripts.
Public Hearing 14 Announcement (Auslan)
Public hearing 14: Preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in disability services (South Australia)
Public hearing 14: Preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in disability services (South Australia).
The Disability Royal Commission’s next public hearing will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre in Adelaide from 7 to 11 June.
The hearing will be open to the public for people to attend in person, though this may change depending on COVID-19 health advice. You may have to stay at home and watch the hearing online. The hearing will have Auslan interpreters and live captions.
The public hearing will focus on the experiences of people with disability living in disability accommodation services in South Australia, run by the South Australian Government.
The hearing will examine the experiences of 2 people living in these services over 5 years. The services are provided by the South Australian Department of Human Services.
The hearing will cover:
- how the Department responded when incidents occurred, or complaints were made
- how the Department communicated with and provided information to their families
- the process of transitioning to different accommodation.
The hearing will review the Department’s policies, systems and operations.
The hearing will also look at the case of Ann-Marie Smith.
Ann-Marie was a woman with disability and an NDIS participant who died in Adelaide in April 2020.
The hearing will investigate how:
- the NDIS
- NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
responded to reports and inquiries into Ann-Marie Smith.
More information is available on our website in the ‘Public hearings’ section.