Adult Safeguarding Unit

If you suspect you or someone you know is being abused or mistreated, you can contact the Adult Safeguarding Unit:


Call 1800 372 310, Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm (except on Public Holidays) for free, confidential advice, information, or support or to make a report to the Unit.


Email adultsafeguardingunit@sa.gov.au


Online - complete Online Report Form


You can make a report about any adult over the age of 18 who may be vulnerable to abuse. The Adult Safeguarding Unit is not an emergency/crisis service.

Dial 000 for emergencies.

Welcome to the Adult Safeguarding Unit 

We are a dedicated South Australia-wide service that can respond to concerns about adults who may be vulnerable and experiencing abuse or mistreatment. 

The Unit has a strong focus on safeguarding the rights of adults vulnerable to abuse.

An adult may be vulnerable due to age, disability, ill health, social isolation, dependence on others, or other disadvantage.

The Unit provides free confidential advice, information and support.

We also take reports of actual or suspected abuse of an adult who may be vulnerable. Once a report has been received, the Unit must assess the report and take action, as outlined in the Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Act 1995.

Anyone can call the Adult Safeguarding Unit and you can remain anonymous if you wish.

About the Adult Safeguarding Unit

The Unit is located in Office for Ageing Well, in the Department for Health and Wellbeing.

We were established on 1 October 2019 to respond to concerns of abuse in relation to adults vulnerable to abuse aged 65 years and over, and 50 years and over for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. On 1 October 2020, we expanded our remit to include adults living with a disability.

On 1 October 2022, the Unit’s service expanded further to respond to reports of abuse or mistreatment of any adult who may be vulnerable. 

Anyone with questions or concerns about actual or suspected abuse of an adult who may be vulnerable, can contact the Adult Safeguarding Unit for free confidential advice, information and support.

Our key functions

In providing support to safeguard the rights of adults who may be vulnerable, we are able to:  

  • provide confidential information and advice to callers concerned about themselves or someone who may be vulnerable to abuse
  • respond to reports of suspected or actual abuse of adults who may be vulnerable to abuse
  • provide support to safeguard the rights of adults experiencing abuse, tailored to their needs, wishes and circumstances.
  • raise community awareness about the service and strategies to safeguard the rights of adults who may be at risk of abuse

What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding is the action that a person, organisation or community takes to promote and protect the health, wellbeing and human rights of a person to live free from abuse or mistreatment.

The Unit provides support to safeguard the rights of adults experiencing abuse or mistreatment, tailored to their needs, wishes and circumstances. Safeguarding actions that the Unit can assist with may include: 

  • supporting a person to make a report to the police or apply for an intervention order
  • referring to support services such as aged care or NDIS services
  • creating safety plans with a person, or
  • supporting a person to complete legal documentation to safeguard their financial, legal or personal affairs.

The Unit works positively with and for the adult experiencing abuse or mistreatment, to preserve relationships that are important to them. At all times, the Unit will balance the need to intervene, with the adult’s right to autonomy and self-determination.

What we do

Reporting suspected or actual abuse to the Unit is on a voluntary basis. There is no mandatory requirement to report.

Once a report is received, the Unit must determine if it meets the minimum criteria for a report. The Unit will then assess the report to determine the most appropriate action. Actions may include:

  • referring the matter to another more appropriate service
  • gathering more information about the situation, or undertaking a formal investigation, where necessary
  • working with the person and other services and individuals to develop a safeguarding plan and put in place supports, in line with the persons wishes and circumstances.

When deciding what actions to take, the Unit must be guided by the South Australian Charter of the Rights and Freedoms of Vulnerable Adults and the principles of the Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Act.  This includes respecting a person’s human rights, choice and valued relationships.

We collaborate with other services

Safeguarding an adult’s rights is everyone’s business.

We assist adults to access services and supports to help safeguard them against the abuse and mistreatment they are experiencing. The Unit collaborates with individuals, members of communities, service providers, government and non-government agencies and organisations to provide advice and information, as well as safeguarding responses.

We engage other parties for support if needed

The Unit delivers its services using a whole-of-community approach, based on the safeguarding required.

To effectively address abuse and mistreatment of adults, responses must be in collaboration with services and individuals. Neighbours, friends, families, community groups and local service providers are in an ideal position to identify suspected or actual abuse and support those experiencing abuse.

We work with consent and in line with the person’s wishes

Our work is consent driven.

We coordinate responses to safeguard the rights of adults experiencing abuse, tailored to their needs, wishes and circumstances. We work positively with and for the adult experiencing abuse, to preserve relationships that are important to them.

Unless there is evidence that a person is unable to make decisions for themselves, we presume they can make decisions regarding their situation. This includes the decision to be supported by the Unit. The person may choose to remain in a situation where they are at risk of being mistreated or abused and understand the implications of doing so.

What we don't do

We do not duplicate services

The responsibility of preventing abuse and mistreatment is shared by many.

There are a variety of South Australian organisations and providers offering preventative services, supports and interventions to stop abuse from occurring, and to restore people’s right to safety, dignity, respect and self-determination.

Where possible, we refer people to relevant specialist services in South Australia that can support them.

We do not provide a case management service

To effectively prevent and address abuse and mistreatment of adults, responses must be in collaboration with various services and individuals, including the person themselves.

The Unit provides a short-term, coordinating role to ensure engagement and cooperation between services, people and bodies to mitigate the factors contributing to the abuse the person is experiencing.

This type of coordination is not the same as case management.

We don’t prosecute or prove mistreatment or abuse is occurring

We do not investigate abuse with a view to prosecuting offenders.

It is not our role to prove that the person accused of abuse or mistreatment is guilty of committing a crime.

However, if at any time through the course of our work, we believe that a criminal offence may have occurred, or is occurring, we will refer the matter to the South Australian Police.

If you have information about a criminal offence, you should report it to South Australia Police (SAPOL). For non-urgent police assistance, call 131 444. In an emergency Call 000

We don’t take a punitive approach

We support the adult through any action and decision they choose to address their situation, environment, and relationships. This includes their right to choose to preserve their relationship with the person that has caused the abuse or mistreatment.

We don’t investigate service providers

If you have a concern about an adult who may be experiencing abuse and or mistreatment by a service provider, please consider contacting the relevant body to report or discuss your concerns. This may include the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission or the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner.

What can I do?

If you suspect you or someone you know is at risk of or is being abuse you can seek advice by:  

If you require assistance in contacting us, please contact:

Anyone can call the Adult Safeguarding Unit and you can remain anonymous if you wish.

Emergency Contacts

The Adult Safeguarding Unit is not an emergency/crisis service. Please call one of the services below if the matter is an emergency.

  • SA Police or SA Ambulance Service (for emergencies only) - 000
  • SA Police (for non-urgent police assistance) – 131 444
  • Homeless Connect SA1800 003 308 – 24 hours per day, 7 days per week
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14 – 24/7
  • Mental Health Emergency – 13 14 65 – 24/7 Metropolitan and Country SA
  • 24h Domestic Violence Crisis Line – 1800 800 098
  • 24h 1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732 – National sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line
  • Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Service - 1800 817 421 – 24 hours per day /7 days per week.