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Disability care report handover today - but public can't see it yet

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An interim report into gaps in South Australian disability care sparked by the “disgusting and degrading” death of Ann-Marie Smith will be handed to the State Government today – but it won’t be publicly revealed immediately.

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Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said today that the interim report would be handed over this afternoon, and “it will be made public early in the week”.

“I’d like to take the opportunity to thank the independent taskforce, led by Dr David Caudrey and Kelly Vincent, who have worked hard to deliver their interim recommendations quickly and on time, so we can begin to close any urgent gaps for people living with disability as soon as possible,” she said.

Premier Steven Marshall backed not immediately releasing the report and recommendations.

“I mean, I think it’s only reasonable the Government has some time to look at it first, look at the implications but then we’ll be releasing it but I’m sure that will happen some time this week,” Marshall told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning.

But the Opposition demanded the report be released today.

“If there is no report out today with some very clear and very deliberate recommendations for change, to fill gaps that have been identified leading up to the death of Ann Marie Smith, then this is a failure,” Labor’s Human Services spokeswoman Nat Cook told ABC Radio Adelaide.

The State Government set up the taskforce on May 18 to “examine the current gaps in oversight and safeguarding for people living with profound disability in South Australia”, following Smith’s death in hospital from septic shock, multiple organ failure, severe pressure sores and malnourishment on April 6.

Police and Coronial inquiries are underway, as well as a federal investigation headed by a former Federal Court judge, into the 54-year-old woman’s death and the care she received at her Kensington Gardens home.

NDIS-administered non-government organisation Integrity Care SA had assigned a single paid carer across seven days for Smith, who had cerebral palsy, but police – who have opened a manslaughter investigation – said she had spent 24-hours a day for more than a year sitting in a chair.

Smith was previously a client of state-run Disability SA, but was transferred to the federal NDIS in 2018, with the state no longer responsible for monitoring or oversight of Commonwealth clients, sparking debate about the state’s Community Visitor scheme and access to NDIS clients at home.

The State Government did not learn about Smith’s death until a month later, with Integrity Care SA also failing to tell the NDIS.

It was later revealed that Integrity Care SA had applied to the State Government on April 16 – 10 days after Smith’s death – for a working with vulnerable people clearance for Smith’s carer, and it was granted, despite Lensink later saying the carer appeared to have been working without the certification “for years”.

It was only after police held a press conference on Friday, May 15, to reveal the circumstances of and inquiry into Smith’s death, that the State Government found out, and Integrity Care SA sacked its paid carer for misconduct.

The taskforce’s final report is due by the end of July.

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