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Ann Marie Smith report urges NDIS Commission to act earlier to identify neglect of disability care recipients

Ann Marie Smith

A federal investigation into the death of Adelaide woman Ann Marie Smith has recommended the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) act earlier to identify vulnerable Australians with disabilities.

Adelaide woman Ann Marie Smith died earlier this year in horrific conditions.

Ms Smith’s death remains subject to a criminal investigation by South Australia Police, which has resulted in a charge of manslaughter against her former carer.

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner, Mr Graeme Head AO, has released the report from the independent review commissioned by the Commissioner in response to the tragic death of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant, Ms Ann-Marie Smith, in South Australia.

The Robertson Review examined the adequacy of the regulation of the supports and services provided to Ms Smith and the action taken by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) in the exercise of its regulatory functions.

Mr Robertson did not identify any significant failings in the NDIS Commission’s performance of its functions. Mr Robertson also made a number of broader observations for legislative and policy changes to better support vulnerable or at-risk NDIS participants.

Minister Robert said he shared the deep distress and concern felt across the Australian community in response to the death of Ms Smith.

‘The Government has already taken action to strengthen systems and processes to bolster support for vulnerable or at-risk NDIS participants,’ Minister Robert said.

‘Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has reached out to around 70,000 participants who have been identified as being at greater risk, not just to coronavirus but to the impacts of the pandemic, including isolation.

‘Proactive outreach activities to ‘check-in’ on NDIS participants will be a key feature of the NDIS going forward.’

A number of Mr Robertson’s observations go to improved information sharing between the NDIA and the NDIS Commission, as well as with state and territory governments. In recognising this, the NDIA and NDIS Commission have already agreed a memorandum of understanding and a range of Operational Protocols that provide for improved two-way exchange of information.

A number of the observations involve responsibilities of state and territory governments outside of the NDIS, such as child protection, public guardian or law enforcement. At their meeting in July 2020, disability Ministers agreed to a project to improve the identification and support for vulnerable or at-risk people with disability. This project is ongoing and is due to be finalised in by the end of 2020.Ann Marie Smith

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