Adult Safeguarding Unit

If you suspect you or someone you know is at risk of or is being abused, you can call the Adult Safeguarding Unit on 1800 372 310, Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm for information, support or to make a report to the Adult Safeguarding Unit, or e-mail

The Adult Safeguarding Unit (ASU) became operational on 1 October 2019. It is located in Office for Ageing Well and has a strong focus on safeguarding the rights of adults at risk of abuse.

The ASU responds 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 and adults living with a disability. From October 2022, the ASU will work with all adults who may be vulnerable to abuse. 

Key functions of the ASU include:

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

Anyone with questions or concerns about a situation can contact the ASU for free confidential advice, information and support.

Reporting suspected or actual abuse to the ASU is voluntary. Once a report has been made, the ASU will assess the report to determine the most appropriate action. Actions may include:

  • referring the matter to another more relevant service,
  • gathering more information about the situation
  • work with the person to develop a safeguarding plan.

In providing a safeguarding response, the ASU complements the role of other organisations and government bodies, rather than duplicates services.

The ASU works positively with and for the adult at risk of abuse, to preserve relationships that are important to them. At all times, the ASU balances the need to intervene, with the adult’s right to autonomy and self-determination. In most cases, consent of the adult at risk is sought before any safeguarding action is taken.

What is abuse?

Abuse is any deliberate or unintentional action, or lack of action, carried out by a person, often in a trusted relationship, which causes distress and/or harm to a person who may be vulnerable, or causes loss or damage to property or assets.

Facts about Elder Abuse

Around 1 in 20 older Australians experiences abuse from a person they know and trust, such as a family member, friend, carer, or neighbour. It can occur at home, in places visited regularly, or where services or care are accessed. However, abuse can often remain hidden and continue without any suspicions being aroused.

What does abuse look like?

The behaviours and signs of abuse can include, but are not limited to:

  • physical abuse: being hit or injured on purpose, restraining someone inappropriately;
  • emotional abuse: intimidation, threats, humiliation, extortion, racial, verbal or psychological abuse;
  • sexual abuse: involvement in a sexual activity which is unwanted or not understood, unwanted sexual attention;
  • neglect: not providing food, clothing, attention or care. Withholding of aids or equipment (continence, walking, hearing, glasses), putting someone at risk of infection, failure to provide access to appropriate health or social care;
  • financial abuse: the theft or misuse of money, property or personal possessions and includes any pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance.

Some questions to consider:

  • Has anyone taken money without your permission?
  • Has anyone not returned belongings or valuables they borrowed from you?
  • Has anyone tried to force you to sign papers or to use your money against your will?
  • Has anyone made you afraid, unsafe, or hurt you physically?
  • Does anyone pressure you to do things that you don’t want to do?
  • Does anyone’s behaviour upset, frighten or make you feel worthless?

Elder Abuse

For more information about the types and signs of Elder Abuse, what to look for, who is at risk, when to seek help, visit the Stop Elder Abuse web page What is Elder Abuse?

What can I do?

If you are an older South Australian or adult living with disability, vulnerable to abuse or are being abused, you can seek advice by:

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

The ASU is not an emergency/crisis service. Dial 000 for emergencies.


Adult Safeguarding Unit
1800 372 310 (free call)