Human rights lawyers welcome independent inquiry into the death of Ann-Marie Smith

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) welcomes the Morrison Government’s announcement that it will  establish an independent inquiry into the adequacy of disability care provided to Ann-Marie Smith. Ms Smith was a woman with a disability, living in Adelaide who died on 6 April 2020 from profound septic shock and multiple organ failure from severe pressure sores.

In accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, people with disabilities have the human right to live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. Those rights have been desecrated in this case. The Inquiry must move Australia forward in its obligations to protect and promote the human rights of people with disabilities. 

Natalie Wade, Vice President and Chair of the ALHR Disability Rights Subcommittee said, “The importance of having independence as a core feature of this inquiry can not be understated. In a case so horrific, without knowing if others are currently facing a similar situation and how many lives could be saved by the outcomes of this Inquiry, independence from Government and previous disability sector organisations is absolutely essential.”

Ms Wade explained, “International human rights law, at its very roots, looks to independent oversight to prevent human rights violations and interrogate those incidents when they occur.”

“ALHR calls on the Inquiry to ensure that they are informed by the experience and expertise of people with disabilities by actively seeking to staff the Inquiry with people with disabilities.” 

“We recognise that the focus of this Inquiry is not to replace or mimic the role of police, circumvent the coroner or courts, who are charged with statutory duties to investigate, or hear prosecutions against perpetrators of alleged crimes of this nature. Instead, we call on the independent Inquiry to ensure that the focus is on saving the lives of people with disabilities who are vulnerable to abuse, neglect and exploitation,” Ms Wade stated.

Contact Matt Mitchell on 0431 980 365 or