Media release

Former Federal Court judge to head independent review into circumstances relating to the death of Ann-Marie Smith

The Commissioner of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (the NDIS Commission) has appointed the Hon. Alan Robertson SC, a former judge of the Federal Court of Australia, to conduct an independent review into the NDIS Commission’s regulation of the provider of NDIS supports and services to Ms Ann-Marie Smith, an NDIS participant.

“Ms Ann-Marie Smith died in appalling circumstances on 6 April this year in South Australia,” said NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner, Mr Graeme Head.

“It is imperative we get to the bottom of what happened. Her death raises questions about the particular vulnerability of Ms Smith over a long period of time, including since 1 July 2018 when the NDIS Commission commenced regulation of NDIS supports and services in South Australia. It also raises wider questions around the approaches to safeguarding of people with disability and their rights as valued members and contributors to society.”

“Therefore, I have appointed Mr Robertson to look into a number of issues surrounding Ms Smith’s death, particularly the systems and processes of the NDIS Commission in its regulation of the NDIS provider involved,” said Mr Head.

“I will be publishing the report of the review, subject only to any redactions necessary to avoid prejudice to any legal proceedings or that are otherwise necessary or appropriate, as determined by Mr Robertson.”

Mr Robertson was a judge of the Federal Court from 2011 to 2020, and his previous appointments include that of Deputy President of the Australian Competition Tribunal. He is currently Deputy President of the Australian Academy of Law.

Mr Head stressed that, “this is an entirely independent review and is not subject to direction by myself or any officers of the NDIS Commission.” The full Terms of Reference and Mr Robertson’s bio can be viewed on the NDIS Commission website.

The report of the review is due on 31 August 2020.

Related resources

Our media release of 26 May 2020 announced the appointment of the Hon. Alan Robertson SC to conduct an independent review into the NDIS Commission’s regulation of the provider of NDIS supports and services to Ms Ann-Marie Smith, an NDIS participant.

The terms of reference of this review are attached.

Organisations and members of the public were invited to provide information or make a submission to Mr Robertson.

Mr Robertson was required to conduct the review in a manner that avoids prejudice to any pending or current criminal or civil proceedings.

Mr Robertson's report to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner is attached. You can read the media release and view the video of Mr Robertson reading the summary of his report.

Ms Smith died on 6 April 2020 in appalling circumstances. Her death is the subject of active investigation by the NDIS Commission and by South Australia Police.

Meetings in Adelaide 20 and 21 July 2020

On 20 and 21 July 2020, Mr Robertson held meetings in Adelaide with those who provided a submission or an outline of what they wished to say to the independent review.

The meetings were broadcast via live stream and, as much as possible, were accessible to the public. However, the broadcast was turned off, where necessary, in circumstances where the discussion was about individuals or contained individual information and where this information may prejudice or interfere with ongoing enquiries or any potential civil or criminal proceedings as per the Review’s terms of reference.

Transcripts of the publicly accessible sessions of these meetings are attached. Please note: these are uncorrected versions of the transcripts, which may contain typos.

Video recordings of the public webcasts are available:

The Hon. Alan Robertson SC - Curriculum Vitae

Day 1 transcript (20 July 2020)

Day 2 transcript (21 July 2020)

Independent review - Report to the Commissioner