Ms Ann Marie Smith
The wilful neglect, suffering and tragic death of South Australian Ann Marie Smith shocked us all. Whilst her former carer has now been charged with manslaughter, so many questions remain unanswered. Ann Marie spent the last years of her life in an almost sedentary state, living in putrid conditions in a cane chair. Further details revealed by police into the circumstances of Ann Marie's death continue to shock and enrage. Many of her cherished personal belongings were missing, large loans were taken out in her name and her car racked up over $2,000 worth of traffic fines, even though she couldn't drive.
Ann Marie, an NDIS participant, was neglected by those paid to care for her in ways that are totally unimaginable. It is hard to comprehend that cruelty so vile could be inflicted on someone so vulnerable. Ann Marie was a person deserving of respect, yet she was mistreated in such a callous way. Ann Marie's NDIS provider, Integrity Care (SA), was recently banned from operating and had its NDIS registration revoked. That prevented the organisation from providing services through the NDIS. The NDIS Quality Safeguards Commission has not released the report that formed the basis of that action, except to say that it was because of 'a number of contraventions of the NDIS Act'. That would have to be a complete understatement.
It is imperative that the commission provides detailed reasons as to why Integrity Care (SA) has been banned because, incredibly, the company can still provide disability care services outside the NDIS framework as well as aged-care services. Yesterday, Alan Robertson, SC, completed the independent review into the circumstances relating to Ann Marie's death. It focused on the NDIS supports and services that were provided to her. The review was conducted in a way so as not to prejudice the current criminal proceedings. No word has been heard from government about the report, and I urge the government to release the report as a matter of urgency. South Australians deserve to know the truth about why the system failed Ann Marie. We need to know this so that we can make informed decisions about whether to engage the services of Integrity Care (SA), and to make sure this never happens again.
Last month I wrote to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, Janet Anderson, and Minister Colbeck seeking clarification over whether Integrity Care (SA) was an approved provider of aged-care services and, if so, to commence the process to ban them from providing aged-care services under the Aged Care Act. Regrettably, but perhaps not surprisingly, I've not received a reply from either. I've also raised a formal complaint directly with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission about Integrity Care (SA), which happens to be a registered charity.
Integrity Care (SA) and its directors, Alison Virgo, Amy-June Collins and Philip Greenland, completely failed in their responsibility to provide oversight and proper care for Ann Marie. There is no way that Minister Colbeck can have any confidence that they can be entrusted with the care of senior Australians. The horrendous catalogue of failures in the care of Ann Marie leaves no doubt that Integrity Care (SA) is not fit to provide any type of care services.