History of the Adult Safeguarding Unit

Adult Safeguarding Unit Expands to Work With Adults Living with Disability

South Australia’s Adult Safeguarding Unit (ASU) opened on 1 October 2019, and is responsible for receiving and responding to reports of actual or suspected abuse of adults aged 65 and over, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 50 and over, who may be vulnerable to abuse.

In July 2020, State Government approved the expansion of the ASU’s service to include responding to reports of abuse of adults living with a disability, which took effect 1 October 2020.

Section 3 of the Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Act 1995 applies to adults living with disability.

The disability can be intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive, neurological, sensory or physical impairment, or a combination.

The disability must be, or be likely to be, permanent.

The disability must both reduce the person’s capacity for social interaction, communication, learning, mobility, decision-making or self-care, and necessitate continuing support services.

People with a disability that is of an episodic nature are also covered.

The ASU is scheduled to expand its remit again in October 2022, to take reports of abuse and neglect of all adults vulnerable to abuse.

Legislation

The State Government’s landmark adult safeguarding legislation – Office for the Ageing (Adult Safeguarding) Amendment Bill 2018 – the first of its kind in Australia, passed both houses of the South Australian Parliament in November 2018.

The legislation establishes a new Adult Safeguarding Unit (ASU), to provide the South Australian community with an approachable, empowered body with statutory responsibility and accountability for receiving and responding to reports of suspected abuse or neglect.

Charter of the Rights and Freedoms of Vulnerable Adults consultation

On 6 December 2018, Office for Ageing Well conducted a community workshop to hear the views of interested individuals about how the new Adult Safeguarding Unit could uphold the rights of adults who may be vulnerable to abuse. This workshop engaged individuals from diverse backgrounds, including older people, those with lived experience of disability or mental health concerns, carers and families.

Attendees were also provided the opportunity to give feedback on the draft Charter of the Rights and Freedoms of Vulnerable Adults, and as a result of this feedback, the Charter (PDF 30KB) was revised.

Additionally, Office for Ageing Well invited community members and key stakeholders to comment on the draft Charter either by completing a survey or participating in one of two online focus groups between 27 March and 15 April 2019.

View the Charter of the Rights and Freedoms of Vulnerable Adults (PDF 30KB).

Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Regulations 2019 Consultation

Office for Ageing Well invited community feedback on the draft Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Regulations 2019, to help inform the regulations and support the implementation of Office for the Ageing (Adult Safeguarding) Amendment Act 2018.

A discussion paper (PDF 233KB) outlining what the Regulations could look like was prepared. The draft was informed by feedback from the community and organisations during earlier consultations.

Consultation was conducted via the YourSAy website, from 18 February to 29 March 2019.

Code of Practice Consultation

Office for Ageing Well held a Service Provider Workshop on 2 July 2019. Attendees were updated with progress on the implementation of the new adult safeguarding laws and the role of the ASU. They were also able to provide feedback on the draft Code of Practice.

Further consultation on the draft Code of Practice was conducted via the YourSAy website from 28 June to 19 July 2019.

This feedback was collated and, where appropriate was incorporated into the Code of Practice (PDF 542KB).

Year One Evaluation of the Adult Safeguarding Unit

In June 2019, Office for Ageing Well commissioned Tetra Tech International Development (formerly Coffey International Development) to conduct the Year One Evaluation of the Adult Safeguarding Unit. The evaluation was conducted from August to December 2020 to drive early system and service improvements as well as inform the independent review of the Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Act 1995 that will occur within the first three years of the ASU’s operations. The Evaluation Report (PDF 1MB) presents the evaluation findings and recommendations.