Adult Safeguarding Unit

If you suspect you or someone you know is at risk of or is being abused, you can call the South Australian Elder Abuse Prevention Phone Line 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 by emailing

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.
Key functions of the ASU include:

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

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 to develop a safeguarding plan.

In providing a safeguarding response, the ASU will complement the role of other organisations and government bodies, rather than duplicate services.

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

For the first three years of operation, the Unit will respond to reports or concerns of abuse in relation to people aged 65 years and over, and 50 years and over for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. From 2022, the Unit will work with all adults who may be vulnerable to abuse, regardless of age.

For free professionally printed resources about the Adult Safeguarding Unit, please complete the Adult Safeguarding Unit Resources Order Form (PDF 799KB) and email to

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 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.

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.

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 suspect you or another person aged 65 and over, or 50 and over if Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, are at risk of or are being abused, you can take action and make a report or seek advice by:

Anyone can make a report and you can remain anonymous if you wish.

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

Other advice and support services

  • SA Police or SA Ambulance Service (for emergencies only) - 000
  • SA Police (for non-urgent Police assistance) – 131 444
  • Men’s Referral Service – 1300 766 491
  • Mental Health Triage – 13 14 65
  • Domestic Violence and Aboriginal Family Violence Gateway – 1800 800 098
  • Homelessness Gateway – 1800 003 308
  •  Lifeline – 13 11 14

For more information and services that can help you, please visit the Stop Elder Abuse web page Elder Abuse – Information and Services.

Please visit Stop Elder Abuse for more information on the following:


Adult Safeguarding Unit
SA Elder Abuse Prevention Phone Line: 1800 372 310 (free call)