The Public Advocate, Anne Gale appeared before the Royal Commission on Wednesday 8th June at Public Hearing 14.

This hearing was held in Adelaide between the 7th and 11th of June 2021 and focussed on preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in disability services in South Australia.

The hearing examined the experiences of people with disability in receipt of disability accommodation services operated by the South Australian Department of Human Services.

Evidence was presented relating to two case studies which highlighted broader systemic issues.

Evidence was also presented on the response of the Department, the National Disability Insurance Agency and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to recommendations made by the Safeguarding Task Force in its report dated 31 July 2020, and the Honourable Alan Robertson SC in his report titled ‘Independent review of the adequacy of the regulation of supports and services provided to Ann-Marie Smith, an NDIS participant, who died on 6 April 2020’.

In her statement, the Public Advocate raised issues relating to clients of the Office of the Public Advocate who are some of South Australia’s most vulnerable people.

The Public Advocate highlighted the challenges and complexity for OPA clients in accessing timely supports, housing and services in particular when they experience a crisis.

She also discussed potential safeguards and the need for State and Commonwealth agencies to work together to ensure that safeguards and checks are implemented for the most vulnerable South Australians.

The Public Advocate emphasised that just because a person has a disability it does not mean that they are necessarily vulnerable.

The Public Advocate's statement along with recordings and transcripts are available on the Disability Royal Commission website.