Following the suffering and death of Ann Marie Smith, the South Australian Government Minister for Human Services established the Safeguarding Task Force on 21 May 2020 with responsibility to examine and report quickly on gaps and areas that need strengthening in safeguarding arrangements for people with disabilities living in the State.

The Report identified as one of 14 safeguarding gaps, the lack of investment in “individual advocacy to assist people with disabilities to navigate the service system and the community.”

The SA Government is currently the only Australian State or Territory Government that does not fund any individual disability advocacy.

Recommendation 7 of the Safeguarding Task Force report is that “the State government invests in individual advocacy to assist individuals with accessing what they need from the NDIS and from the community.”

No matter what recommendations and reforms emerge at local, State and Territory or Federal levels as the Disability Royal Commission progresses, access to independent advocacy will continue to be vital to safeguarding the rights and wellbeing of people with disability.