Few people had heard of Ann Marie Smith before a chilly afternoon in mid-May last year.
- Ann Marie Smith died in April 2020 and her only carer, Rosa Maione, pleaded guilty to manslaughter this week
- Ms. Smith’s death led to rapid changes in the disability sector
- Disability advocates say more needs to be done
She had little family, and some of her neighbors in Adelaide’s affluent eastern suburbs had not seen her in years.
But when police held a media conference on the afternoon of May 15, 2020, Ann Marie Smith suddenly gained posthumous notoriety that made her headlines.
Ms. Smith lived with cerebral palsy and suffered from septic shock, multiple organ failure, severe pressure ulcers, and malnutrition at the time of her death.
Prior to her death on April 6, 2020, police believe she spent up to a year on a cane chair in her Kensington Park home 24 hours a day.
The case shocked the public and led to rapid changes in the disability sector, although some argue that there is still much to be done.
A card a stranger left on the doorstep of Ann Marie Smith’s house.
ABC News: Ben Nielsen
What happened next?
After Ms. Smith’s death, her care provider, Integrity Care SA, was fined more than $ 12,000 for failing to report the death to the National Disability Insurance and was later banned from operating.
Rosa Maione, Ms. Smith’s only NDIS-funded nurse, was arrested last August and pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Wednesday.
Disability attorney and former MLC Kelly Vincent spoke to reporters Wednesday after Maione’s admission of guilt.
“When I heard that Rosa Maione had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Anne Marie Smith today, I honestly wished I was still religious so I could believe she was going to burn in hell,” she said.
“As it is, we have to hope that it just rots in jail.”
What changes have been made?
Ms. Smith’s death sparked numerous investigations and reviews, including by the police, the state government, and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.
The independent investigation by the NDIS commission resulted in 10 recommendations, including that NDIS participants at risk should have multiple carers.
Since then, legislation has been passed to give the NDIS Commission greater powers to protect participants, and the Commission has made changes, including the introduction of national employee reviews and additional conditions for personal care providers.
The Royal Commission on Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disabilities also took a keen interest in the case and held a hearing in June examining the findings since Ms. Smith’s death to protect other people with disabilities .
The death of disability benefit recipient Ann Marie Smith has changed the industry. (
Delivered: SA police
A state government task force has been set up in South Australia to investigate gaps in the supervision and protection of people with disabilities.
All seven recommendations of this task force have now been implemented, including a new nationwide advocacy service.
What else has to be done?
Ms. Vincent, co-chair of the state government’s task force, said more changes were needed.
“How should a disabled person in this state and this country feel safe and respected and valued for their life, for our lives, until we actually see that the state and federal government and the National Disability Insurance Agency seriously change their practices and that Appreciate life over profit? ”She said.
Sam Paior is the founder and director of The Growing Space, an organization that provides support coordination and training for NDIS participants and families, and is also a member of the NDIA’s independent advisory board.
She said the case of Ms. Smith was “a real wake-up call for disability service providers and government agencies”.
“I think every disability company has gone to great lengths to ensure that none of their customers slip into such tragic territory, and hopefully some of the processes they have put in place have stalled – and there are more regular face-to-face check-ins. at least, ”she said.
Ms. Paior said Ms. Smith’s death “rightly appalled the nation” and “revealed how isolated some people with disabilities are.”
“Annie’s death has definitely made some positive changes, but the changes that we really need to see are not happening,” she said.
“The best defense against abuse and neglect is a full life and a community that belongs to it – and for that, disabled people must be sincerely welcomed and supported.”
Disability benefit recipient Ann Marie Smith died last year, sparking a criminal investigation by SA police.
Delivered: SA police
“These photos of Annie with her dogs show a time when she was a part of it – online it looked like she was part of an active canine club community, but when her dogs died no one had supported her to keep that interest or one up to get new pet.
“It’s an interest that would have led her to be with people, to build relationships and friendships.
“Everyone wants to belong somewhere, but there are so many more barriers for people with disabilities or other differences – and there are barriers that put non-disabled people in the way.
“We just have to do better.”