The Ann-Marie Smith outrage

 Somebody has to be jailed – and that somebody works for the government                                     

IS Tasmanian disability advocate Jane Wardlaw right when she says the death of Adelaide woman Ann-Marie Smith is a “very good example of how as a nation we need to start looking at ourselves and our connection with community”? Have we outsourced to the government so much of what used to be a private, street-level sense of mutual care for the vulnerable that Miss Smith’s neighbours – or even we “as a nation” – bear some portion of responsibility for her disgraceful demise?

The case of an Adelaide woman who died after being left by carers in a cane chair 24-hours-a-day for a year shows the community still does not value people with disabilities as much as it should, advocates say.

They say neighbours and carers should have raised concerns with authorities before Ann-Marie Smith died last month.

Ms Smith, 54, died on April 6 of severe septic shock, multi-organ failure, severe pressure sores, malnutrition and issues connected with her cerebral palsy.

She had not left her home in upmarket Kensington Park for “a number of years”, SA Police said.

 
Found in a semi-conscious state by her “carer,” she was rushed to Adelaide Hospital where doctors performed major surgery to remove rotting flesh from the many severe pressure sores on her body. South Australia Police are now investigating what they have officially declared a major crime. Detective Superintendent Des Bray said Miss Smith died in “disgusting and degrading circumstances.” Police found no food in her house – nor even a refrigerator – and say the deceased’s cane chair had become her toilet. This is one of the most shocking cases of neglect I can recall. But are “we” to blame? Is the nation to blame?

To answer the question, we need to define terms. If by “nation” Jane Wardlaw means millions of Australians in hundreds of thousands of streets, towns and communities throughout the country, then no – it is not fair to say “we” are indifferent to the isolated and vulnerable. But the time-honoured principle of respecting a neighbour’s privacy should never extend to incuriosity on this scale. There is a point at which one needs to knock on a door or at least share justified concerns with another neighbour and intervene prudently. I think most people know this and act accordingly. If, however, the “nation” means the state, our ever-increasing reliance on it to provide basic human kindness means that yes, the nation – or, rather, a culture newly predominant – could be said to make us and governments jointly culpable. Ann-Marie Smith’s so-called carer has been sacked and is assisting police. He or she was NDIS-funded and employed by Integrity Care SA. The latter will also be required to assist federal and state authorities as they investigate this tragedy.

Rest in peace, Ann-Marie. You were badly let down.

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71 Responses to The Ann-Marie Smith outrage

  1. feelthebern

    Collective guilt is the projection of the wicked.

  2. C.L.

    Is that from a fortune cookie?
    Who is responsible?

  3. Rohan

    Business owners and senior management can face industrial manslaughter if there is an easily preventable workplace death. So collectivising guilt over a death like this unfortunate woman is simply a get out of gaol free card for those responsible of criminal negligence. After all, we couldn’t possibly bring to account the pieces of shit that were paid and entrusted to look after her welfare by the state, could we?

  4. feelthebern

    Not quite CL.
    Simon Wiesenthal.

  5. feelthebern

    So collectivising guilt over a death like this unfortunate woman is simply a get out of gaol free card for those responsible of criminal negligence.

    Exactly Rohan.
    That’s what they’re aiming for.
    Don’t look for who was actually responsible.
    Let’s go down the path of we’re all guilty.

  6. C.L.

    Not quite CL.
    Simon Wiesenthal.

    It’s not a Wiesenthal quote and what he meant to convey about Germans or J00s is something I applied in the post re Australians.
    However …
    There is verifiable culpability here, certainly, but it is not merely individualistic. It goes well beyond one “carer” and includes institutions, state bureaucracies and – yes – a new culture of outsourced-to-government welfare which modern Australians have slept-walked into.

  7. candy

    A carer lives with a disabled person and gets a carer’s pension. It sounds like theft and murder.

    who are these psychopaths the NDIS are employing?

  8. Squirrel

    There may be an issue about the role of the local community in this, but surely it is primarily about an utterly scandalous failure by a gigantic public program which clearly has little in the way of practical checks on outcomes (as opposed to tick the box form-filling and other bureaucratic busy-work).

  9. thefrollickingmole

    No friends, no family and left in the care of lazy turds.
    Poor bugger

  10. Knuckle Dragger

    This will inevitably devolve into the ‘poor underfunded carer struggling with a lack of resources’ and end up with a plea for more gummint cash for this overengineered monstrosity.

    It shouldn’t of course, but it will.

    Also, and although they’ll do it as a matter of course, the poor love’s bank accounts should be checked because in all likelihood she’d have been cleaned out by the ‘carer’ as well.

  11. Ian of Perth

    A quick scan of their website “About Us” indicates they have pretty much failed on every point. Standard corporate waffle & (I guess) hoovering up NDIS (read taxpayer) funds.
    http://integritycare.com.au/about-us/

  12. Bruce in WA

    This just distresses me so much. No-one, repeat no-one, should have to suffer and die like this!

  13. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    This just distresses me so much. No-one, repeat no-one, should have to suffer and die like this!

    Well said. Malnutrition, for chuck’s steak.

  14. Knuckle Dragger

    From their website (h/t Ian) on what Integrity Care can do under the guise of NDIS:

    ‘Support with aspects of everyday life, including personal care,’

    No.

    ‘healthy eating,’

    No.

    ‘medication,’

    No. ‘

    ‘maintaining the home,’

    No.

    ‘paying bills, shopping, budgeting and maintaining tenancies.’

    No, no, no and don’t know.

  15. Megan

    The carer clearly failed poor Ann-Marie but the agency and the NDIS should be ultimately responsible. Where were the regular welfare checks by the agency? Disability care 101.

    That poor, poor woman. So distressing to read how badly abused she was

  16. Regarding the death whilst under care of a NDIS carer surely should be some criminal charges.

    Somebody was claiming NDIS funds to take care of her. This would involve specific services like regular check up, purchase of food etc which presumably would be invoiced for. At the very least the carer is responsable for the death and should be charged. Plus the supervisor needs to answer some questions.

    Hopefully the police are checking on the others that “carer” was responsable for.

  17. Rebel with cause

    This outcome is the direct result of the type of cradle to grave welfare system “disability advocates” celebrate. They don’t want disabled people to have to “rely on charity” (i.e. the care and love of others) and so consequently disability services are provided in a totally hands off business fashion.

    Here’s the thing – if poor Anne Marie had an ounce of real charity in her life this wouldn’t of happened.

    Maybe outsourcing all welfare to the state in exchange for extraordinary levels or taxation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

  18. Whalehunt Fun

    I am not my brother’s keeper. Nor his carer. I pay my taxes. My social responsibility ends there. I will not express or exhibit interest in the welfare of those around me as they may be socialists and so unworthy of any care or concern. For that reason I keep my distance and allow the civil servants to do what they insist I should pay them for. It means I have no friends and no acquaintances in this area, but that is a fair price to pay to avoid socialists. It will be a lonely death as it has been a lonely life, but a better one than any in which socialist filth had a part to play.

  19. liliana

    The community – what community? No one cares anymore and no one wants to get involved. How many people even know their neighbours? I bet no one knew that anything was wrong. The world has changed and people keep to them selves.

    If the woman had no family then her care was solely the responsibility of the carer and the carer’s supervisor, both of whom should be in jail. They didn’t do the job they were paid to do and the end result was this poor woman’s dreadful death.

  20. Scott Osmond

    Everyone assumed that the government payed system takes care of such people. When things go wrong it’s everyone elses fault. No, it’s first the carer who is payed and then the superviser at the NDIS who didn’t check up. Big government and it’s supporters demanded this program now they can take responsibility when things go wrong. This is only the beginning. In the years to come many more such cases will come to light.

  21. Bad Samaritan

    WF (11.24pm) that just about nails it.

    We see from the fascist response to the minor flu-like illness of late how little we actually count. We are not responsible, in the eyes of the 90% implementing + approving of lockdowns and the like, for our own lives….so what makes us responsible for others’ lives indeed?

    Next time i see some bozo injured by the roadside, or merely broken down……or discover a bushbasher with a cracked ankle, I’ll keep going and leave it to the authorities to do something. They are the boss!

  22. Win

    There also needs to be an investigation into the NDIA personnel who created the NDIS plans. Speaking from experience our first plan was diabolical but rectified by the NDIS themselves.

  23. Is this another example of private industry doing better than a government agency? It’s a bit like the job finding organisations that are supposed to find work for people but don’t, they simply collect government (taxpayer) money. Or the road repair companies that took over VicRoads workers, who do crappy patch-up jobs to ensure the work never ends.

    Don’t take this as an indication that I support everything being done by government, but there are many examples where outsourcing tasks to private industry fails miserably because the aim becomes maximising profit over everything else. Private organisations doing government work aren’t always the golden children they are made out to be.

    Sometimes, when profit is not the driving factor, the provider is driven by different motives.

  24. Rebel with cause

    No friends, no family

    I read she had a brother. You wonder what kind of mug doesn’t bother to check in on his disabled sister every once in an while.

  25. iamok

    but surely it is primarily about an utterly scandalous failure by a gigantic public program which clearly has little in the way of practical checks on outcomes (as opposed to tick the box form-filling and other bureaucratic busy-work).

    This. I was sickened when I heard about it, but no heads will roll

  26. H B Bear

    Yet again the State (under the auspices of the NDIS) has displaced civil society in the care of the most vulnerable members of our society. Will a single public servant lose their job over this appalling failure? Of course not, nothing is more certain. Whereas once a church group or a charity (a real one, not one that employs backpackers with an $800k CEO to compete for NDIS packages) would have been able to care for this poor woman, all have been replaced by the monolith of the State with its floor after floor of cardigan wearing public servants. This is the inevitable result.

  27. Will a single public servant lose their job over this appalling failure? Of course not, nothing is more certain.

    Why? It wasn’t run by the public service, but private industry. The carer concerned was sacked (if you’d read the article), but what will happen to the director’s of the company? Nothing.

  28. Alain

    This is what happens when you get rid of charitable organisations or the church and leave it up to big Government. People who have a compulsion or see it as a duty to help are pushed aside and the “government” steps in. You just have public servants who see this as a job and not a vocation. Or you have “community groups” who spring up whose sole purpose is to try and get a slice of the government funding pie.

  29. I read she had a brother. You wonder what kind of mug doesn’t bother to check in on his disabled sister every once in an while.

    Don’t worry, the government can look after us.

  30. Roger

    Adelaide is a weird place. Six foot high fences around most properties and people don’t even mow the nature strip but rely on council to do it. The populace is reserved to the point of being unfriendly. Melbourne’s most westerly suburb but without the colour that large ethnic minorities provide. This could happen anywhere but it certainly doesn’t surprise me that it happened there.

  31. You just have public servants who see this as a job and not a vocation.

    What is wrong with you people? This was a result of a private organisation, not a public servant.

    Comments like these are like the deranged rantings of a Leftist who think everything is wrong with private industry, only it’s mirror image rantings.

    Yes, the organisation is being paid/subsidised by government, but it’s still run by private industry. And don’t blame government, have a look in the mirror as to who is to blame for such tragedies.

  32. notafan

    There ought to be criminal charges against the ‘carer’ and up the chain of command.

    Over a year of appalling suffering.

    Bureaucracy.

    It’s the answer to everything.

  33. notafan

    Roger

    It does seem very Adelaidian.

  34. Ed Case

    Ms Smith, 54, died on April 6 of severe septic shock, multi-organ failure, severe pressure sores, malnutrition and issues connected with her cerebral palsy.

    She had not left her home in upmarket Kensington Park for “a number of years”, SA Police said.

    Monetise Disability, expect scandals, it’s not rocket science.
    AnneMarie Smith would have needed 3 full time carers each working an 8 hour shift, plus at least another 3 relieving when the first 3 took Annual Leave or had a Sickie.
    That’s at least 6 people paid to look after her in her last year.
    So, it’s a bit bigger than just finding one or 2 scapegoats to imprison and then pretend everything’s tickety-boo until next time.

  35. H B Bear

    Where is the accountability or quality assurance? We have already had multimillion dollar phantom moozely child care centres. This look even more ripe for fraud.

    Who was managing her affairs? The money must have been paid to somebody. Was there a court appointed guardian? Lots of questions and points of failure.

    Yes. Very Adelaide.

    It may have been a private service provider but at the end of the day it is a publicly funded and administered program.

  36. notafan

    Ed case

    It appears she had just one carer.

    Where has it been shown she had round the clock care in her home?

  37. candy

    Maybe a scam going on in regard to the pension money, or her carer/s have not been due to COVID but taking their salary, perhaps.

    I wonder if a lot of carers have absconded or told not to bother working much and the agency doesn’t care what happens to the disabled person anyway, and she was left to die.

    Are there others?

  38. It may have been a private service provider but at the end of the day it is a publicly funded and administered program.

    So you believe that when an activity is privately run and funded/subsidised by government that there should then be public servants employed to monitor, manage, control and inspect the activities of that organisation? In this case there should have been public servant inspectors watching the activities of every carer employed by this private company and the company itself. That would make for good use of public funds.

  39. notafan

    This had been happening for a year and the lady died over a month ago.

    Nothing to do with covid.

    There wasn’t even a fridge in the house.

  40. notafan

    We have work cover inspectors.

    Why not care provider inspectors?

  41. Ed Case

    It appears she had just one carer.
    Where has it been shown she had round the clock care in her home?

    That’s not how it works.
    A person can’t be disabled enough to require a Carer 8 hours/day but not for the other 16 hours, hence 3 shifts. Then there’s the weekends, Carers will be required there too, as well as Public Holidays.
    Don’t believe everything you read in the papers, the journalist’s main expertise is bafflegab and obfuscation of the facts.
    Scapegoating one person while sweeping the other 25 under the carpet is a Media Specialty.

  42. H B Bear

    Bemused – I believe that when taxpayers (ie me) spend money the are processes to ensure we (me) receive value for money and get what we pay for.

    At its heart this is the problem with all government spending – they will never spend a dollar as carefully or as well as I will, much less so if they are doing it from Canberra 2,000kms away.

  43. H B Bear

    Googlery wrong again. Plus ca change…

  44. H B Bear

    Bemused what do you think happens in aged care? (another failure, another Royal Commission duck shove).

  45. Bemused – I believe that when taxpayers (ie me) spend money the are processes to ensure we (me) receive value for money and get what we pay for.

    At its heart this is the problem with all government spending – they will never spend a dollar as carefully or as well as I will, much less so if they are doing it from Canberra 2,000kms away.

    3

    There will clearly be reporting processes back to government as part of any privately provided but government funded/subsidised activities. You can’t expect to privatise activities and then also have teams of public servants monitoring the actual services provided, as if they were part of the service provider.

    I’ve been involved in the privatisation of government activities and the whole point is to get rid of government employees. The numbers left are no more than contract managers who monitor and assess reports provided by the contractors and pay the contractors.

    In a number of these privatised activities, the costs increased over time (over what it would have cost if not contracted), the services often dropped in quality and the utility of having government employees instead of private employees was gone. But it all looked good on paper and no one would dare say to their overlords that things didn’t quite turn out as expected.

    But hey! These activities are now run by the ever perfect private industry. There are many activities that private industry clearly does better than any government agency, but not everything and rarely when it’s simply a substitution of the service provider from government to private.

  46. Barbara

    From what I have heard (and there have been far too many unfounded comments) the carer’s car was there for a number of hours 3 times a day. The neighbours did apparently communicate with the carer occasionally and the carer spoke about Ann like you or I would speak about an invalid member of the family giving the neighbours absolutely no reason for concern. The fact Ann was not actually seen by neighbours doesn’t mean much either as there is a back patio to the house which was built on for easy access for a wheel chair rather than trying to get it out the front door.
    A number of people have commented that the neighbours are just as responsible for this as the carer and the organisation. I’m sorry but I don’t agree with that. Not all people are the same. My husband and I are, and always have been very private people. That doesn’t mean we don’t care it means we don’t interfere in other people’s lives but we are there if they need us. Perhaps that is the case here with the neighbours. If the carer spoke as if everything was normal why would they think otherwise?
    The one thing which makes me really angry is that family and so called friends are commenting on how traumatised they have been over this. My question is if they were such good friends how is it that none of them had been in contact or visited Ann in at least the last year.
    I agree with a previous contributor, stop placing the blame on every one else.
    This horrible tragic event is solely on the shoulders of the carer and Organisation responsible for the care of Ann.

  47. Bemused what do you think happens in aged care? (another failure, another Royal Commission duck shove).

    My mother is in aged care. She has paid a $300,000 bond and most of her pension goes into paying for her upkeep and her medical expenses are separate. The aged care provider is extremely good and has a vested interest in ensuring she and all the other ‘wards’ live a long and healthy life.

    There are good and bad aged care service providers, like any private industry service. But that’s what you have to accept when you demand less government and sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for.

  48. Bemused did you ever see this level of neglect if the family visited every so often?

  49. H B Bear

    “Reporting processes”. Nice way to think about dying after sitting in your own shit for 12 months.

  50. Bemused did you ever see this level of neglect if the family visited every so often?

    I don’t visit my mother very often as I live some distance away, but I do call her and she is always in good spirits (given her mental state). The aged care facility always calls me immediately if there is any issue with her (she tends to fall off her bed quite often) and has been very vigilant about access etc during this virus outbreak. I’ve been getting emails almost daily for the last few months.

    The aged care facility has always had a excellent reputation and so there was no concern about her going there. So to answer your question, no, I don’t think frequent visits have much, if any, effect on the level of care. I might also note that most of the care staff are Filipino or such and I think that makes a difference, as they seem to be very respectful and caring of the elderly.

  51. “Reporting processes”. Nice way to think about dying after sitting in your own shit for 12 months.

    Blame the private industry, it has nothing to do with the government.

  52. Perfidious Albino

    A charge of negligent manslaughter and max sentence for the ‘carer’/s and whatever the corporate equivalent is for the ‘care’ organisation would send an appropriate message (and represent some justice).

  53. candy

    She might have been maltreated for a year but it sounds like no-one turned up to “care” for her or check in on her during the virus period and she was just alone in the chair, no food, and died from organ failure.

    I wonder how many weeks no-one came in to see her and the carer just turned up the day before, and realised the poor lady was on the verge of death and called an ambulance.

  54. liliana

    I agree with a previous contributor, stop placing the blame on every one else.
    This horrible tragic event is solely on the shoulders of the carer and Organisation responsible for the care of Ann.

    While I agree with the above, I question the family and friends who now claim to be “traumatised”. Easy to absolve yourself from guilt by being “traumatised”.

  55. Ed Case

    I wonder how many weeks no-one came in to see her and the carer just turned up the day before, and realised the poor lady was on the verge of death and called an ambulance.

    In that case she was a Lockdown victim, perhaps the result of poor communication between the Agency, the Carer and the family.
    If the Carer was a non English speaker then she would be extremely unlikely to disobey a Lockdown order.
    In which case it’s a Beatup to obfuscate the truth that immigration of the low skilled usually = exploitation.

  56. Bad Samaritan

    C.mon guys. Toughen up…..

    This sheila had no friends or relatives to look in, or even to telephone her (or the carer, or whoever). This outta sight: outta mind atmosphere was the whole world’s attitude; the tax-hooverers merely picking up on this already existing neglect and disinterest to pocket some low-hanging dough.

    If ever there are cases for euthanasia this is one. What’s the point of wasting public resources on cases like these?

    Sure, we can say “try fixing it” but hardly anyone actually gives a damn (see that nurse right now in Rockhampton) or the NSW govt letting the 2700 off the Ruby Princess, then sending the maybe-infected staff and equipment straight to the old codgers at Newmarch. Govt can’t be trusted, and not a lot of people anywhere else either.

    My observation: if it’s not your own mum or dad or whoever, it’s difficult to put yourself out day after day after day after day. Carers and nursing staff get fed up with caring= stop caring!

  57. liliana

    If the Carer was a non English speaker then she would be extremely unlikely to disobey a Lockdown order.
    In which case it’s a Beatup to obfuscate the truth that immigration of the low skilled usually = exploitation.

    Totally disagree. It is the non-English speakers that ignore the lockdown and keep working because they want the money and don’t care. Just like the healthcare worker who tested positive and kept working. Why do people automatically think all low skilled migrants are being exploited? The ones I meet are as cunning as foxes but will claim victim status if caught doing anything wrong.

  58. Ed Case

    Why do people automatically think all low skilled migrants are being exploited?

    Um, because otherwise wouldn’t it make more sense to employ someone who could both read and understand instructions in English?

    The ones I meet are as cunning as foxes but will claim victim status if caught doing anything wrong.

    I’ll take your word for it. They are both exploited and exploiters.
    That sounds like a fair trade off for them, not so good for the rest of us.

  59. flyingduk

    Is it just me, or did anyone else wonder how one so disabled could afford such an upmarket home?

  60. candy

    Is it just me, or did anyone else wonder how one so disabled could afford such an upmarket home?

    Perhaps comfortably off parents who left the house to her and as she was disabled she would have been quite vulnerable to certain others. I wonder if stuff has gone missing from the house.

  61. Ed Case

    Her parents died, she had never lived anywhere else?

  62. notafan

    Yet all the articles suggest there was only one carer.

    Now sacked and facing criminal charges.

    Ed case do you have access to other information?

    And note again the timeline doesn’t support a covid related issue.

    12 months sitting in a cane chair.

  63. Bushkid

    Bad Samaritan
    #3457557, posted on May 19, 2020 at 5:41 am
    WF (11.24pm) that just about nails it.

    Next time i see some bozo injured by the roadside, or merely broken down……or discover a bushbasher with a cracked ankle, I’ll keep going and leave it to the authorities to do something. They are the boss!

    BS, this is exactly what happens in Sweden – that paragon of socialist society. My brother in law (married a Swede) relates how his wife injured her ankle while bushwalking with a group of her girl friends, and they just kept on walking and left her to get it sorted out with “the authorities” by herself. It may be a socialist society, but not what I’d call a caring society.

  64. Barbara

    In reply to ‘flyingduck’s’ comment.
    The home was built for Ann by her parents so she would have a safe and comfortable place to live when they were no longer here. As it turned out Ann lost both of her parents within a couple of years of each other.

  65. Delphi

    Unfortunately, this sort of thing is one of the logical outcomes of a ‘welfare’ state. Recall hearing a bloke from the Salvos a few years ago bemoaning the fact that charitable donations were declining due to the Welfare State – it was now the government’s job to fix everything and community caring and charity were fast becoming things of the past. Add that to the tragedy of the commons and voila!

  66. Win

    I had a phone call from the NDIS yesterday checking to see how we were managing through Corvid 19 and home schooling an amazing call. Anne Marie’s death has highlighted the loneliness and isolation of the physically and mentally disabled adult when in-prisoned in their own home and sent shock waves through the NDIS . What she went through is what we fear will happen to our children when we are gone.

  67. Ed Case

    The case of an Adelaide woman who died after being left by carers in a cane chair 24-hours-a-day for a year shows the community still does not value people with disabilities as much as it should, advocates say.

    Carers means more than one person was involved. Possible this NDIS is poorly regulated [apart from being a horrible idea], another instance of the fox keeping an eye on the chookyard?

  68. Hector

    The Government used to provide welfare services directly to the public. At least then the process was less complex. Now the disabled and elderly apply for and receive government funded “packages” (an annual allocation of money) with which to purchase support services from competing private service providers. This is just the Government’s way of distancing itself from liability. Government still funds the services via packages of funding to individuals, but private providers with their own staff provide the services, and government is no longer (as) liable. This system probably does not save Government money, except from liability suits.

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