Reporting required under any other Act or Regulation (DHW Annual Report 2020 - 21)

Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Act 1995

The Office for Ageing Well, established under the Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Act 1995, is located in the Department for Health and Wellbeing. Under this Act, the Office for Ageing Well objectives include:

  • supporting South Australians of all ages to age well, unencumbered by stigma and discrimination; and
  • achieving proper integration of older persons within the community thus ensuring that the skills and experience of older people are not lost to the community through social alienation; and
  • creating social structures in which older people are able to realise their full potential as individuals and as members of the community; and
  • creating a social ethos in which older people are accorded the dignity, appreciation and respect that properly belong to them; and
  • ensuring that the multicultural nature of the community is reflected in the planning and implementation of programs and services relevant to older people; and
  • achieving a proper understanding within the community of the problems affecting older people and vulnerable adults and ameliorating those problems so far as it is practicable to do so by modification of social structures and attitudes.

To achieves its objectives, Office for Ageing Well listens to the voices of older South Australians as it leads the development of policies and delivers programs and projects in partnership with a diverse range of stakeholders, in line with the priorities of the South Australian Government’s ageing well agenda, through the:

  • Adult Safeguarding Unit
  • Ageing Policy Unit
  • Aged Care Strategy Unit
  • Seniors Card Program
  • Community Grants Program
  • Retirement Villages Unit.

Adult Safeguarding Unit

Following its establishment on 1 October 2019, the Adult Safeguarding Unit (ASU) had an initial mandate for its first three years of operation to respond to reports of suspected or actual abuse of people 65 and over, and 50 and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Following a recommendation of the South Australian Government’s Safeguarding Taskforce, established to identify service gaps for people living with a disability, the ASU expanded to also respond to reports relating to people living with a disability on 1 October 2020, two years ahead of schedule. In 2022, the ASU’s legislative remit will expand again to include all vulnerable adults who may be experiencing abuse.

The ASU has a strong focus on promoting and safeguarding the rights of adults at risk and works with a person to develop a safeguarding plan tailored to their needs, wishes and circumstances. The ASU has a range of information gathering powers to enable appropriate referral of matters and investigation of reports of abuse and neglect. In most situations, a person’s consent is required before any action can be taken.

The ASU is responsible for raising community awareness of strategies that may assist to safeguard the rights of at-risk South Australians. In 2020-21, the ASU met with 46 diverse stakeholders, including community members with lived experience, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

Reporting abuse to the ASU is voluntary and is made via the South Australian Abuse Prevention Phone Line (Phone Line). The Phone Line commenced in 2015 to provide an advice and referral service. From 1 October 2019, the Phone Line also became the portal for making a report to the ASU. Since the commencement of the ASU in 1 October 2019 and up to 30 June 2021, the Phone Line has taken more than 2,618 calls.

In 2020-21, the Phone Line received 1,887 calls. Of those calls, 965 resulted in a report to the ASU and the remaining 922 calls were for information and advice only. Of the 965 calls that became reports, 170 (17.6 percent) are still in assessment, 514 (53.3 percent) were recommended for investigation, 1 (0.1 percent) was referred under s25, and the remaining 280 (29.0 percent) were recommended for no further action.

The most common reasons for no further action were: 143 (14.8 percent) were considered to be appropriately managed/safeguarded; 29 (3.0 percent) following assessment, no abuse was identified; 28 (2.9 percent) following assessment, the details provided within initial report were incorrect and no longer fit the remit; and 21 (2.2 percent) consent was not provided by the person for initial contact.

Of relevance is the considerable informal referrals made to a broad range of agencies following an investigation and the development of a safeguarding plan. Additionally, where a person does not consent to the ASU’s involvement, where there are specific concerns warranting action, the ASU is able to rely on exception to consent provisions to ensure a person’s safety.

Since the ASU’s expansion in scope on 1 October 2020, up to 30 June 2021, the Phone Line received 1,550 phone calls from concerned members of the community. Of those 1,550 phone calls: 391 calls (25.2 percent) related to suspected abuse of adults living with a disability, of which 238 (60 percent) resulted in a report to the ASU; 996 calls (64.3 percent) related to concerns of elder abuse with 540 (54 percent) of those calls resulting in a report to the ASU; and in the remaining 163 calls, insufficient information was provided to determine if the call related to elder abuse or abuse of a person living with a disability.

In the period 1 October 2020 to 30 June 2021, data from the Phone Line consistently indicates that the most frequent callers in the age stream are service providers (28.1 percent) followed by adult sons and daughters and other family members (27.4 percent). The most common types of abuse are psychological/emotional (43.7 percent), financial or exploitation (42.5 percent), neglect (20.6 percent), and physical (17.3 percent). Adult sons (28.1 percent) and daughters (17.9 percent) of older people are most often reported as the alleged abuser. In the disability stream, most common callers are service providers (56.8 percent), followed by family members (not sons or daughters) (7.7 percent) and SA Police (4.4 percent). The most prevalent types of abuse are psychological/emotional (35.6 percent), financial or exploitation (30.4 percent), and neglect (27.6 percent). The mother (12.8 percent) and father (10.5 percent) are the most common alleged abusers for adults living with disability.

Significant consultation has occurred in relation to the establishment and development of the ASU. The ASU worked closely with external evaluation agency, Tetra Tech (formerly known as Coffey), to evaluate the ASU’s first year of operations.

Importantly, the evaluation found the ASU to be effectively discharging its legislative requirements. Consultation and evaluation will be ongoing to assist with the continuous improvement of the ASU and expansion of its scope in 2022.

Please note, data is correct as of 5 July 2021 however may change as status of report changes.

Ageing Policy Unit

South Australia’s Plan for Ageing Well 2020-2025 (the Plan) was released by the Minister for Health and Wellbeing on 1 July 2020, following significant statewide consultation in 2018-19 and 2019-20 by Office for Ageing Well with a diverse range of older South Australians and other stakeholders.

The Plan outlines the South Australian Government’s and community’s vision and priorities for ageing well for all South Australians over the next five years.

In 2020-21, the South Australian Government, through Office for Ageing Well, commenced implementation of the Plan’s strategic priorities: Home and community; Meaningful connections; and Navigating change. Office for Ageing Well directly funded, managed or collaborated on 18 ageing strategic projects, in partnership with a broad range of stakeholders from government, non-government and community sectors, including:

  • The inaugural Office for Ageing Well Tackling Ageism Award, introduced as a new initiative under the Plan, recognising an individual, community group or organisation that understands the pervasive nature of ageism and is taking action to challenge it.
  • Re-imagining Volunteering project, with ACH Group and Flinders University, focusing on older people and volunteering in South Australia, particularly in light of COVID-19, to identify ways to break down some of the associated barriers.
  • Citizen Science, Health and Wellbeing project, a quantitative and qualitative study by UniSA to understand the links between citizen science and health and wellbeing (final year of a two-year project).
  • Two pilot projects with Community Centres SA:
    • The Loneliness Warriors Pilot facilitates conversations and awareness about the existence and dangers of loneliness and social isolation on wellbeing, focusing on recruiting, training and rolling out ‘loneliness warriors’ in the local community.
    • The Abuse Prevention Hubs project builds the Adult Safeguarding Unit’s capacity to deliver adult abuse prevention education for Community Centres SA staff and volunteers. The project is developing a co-designed adult safeguarding training program tailored to the needs of community organisations and will be piloted in two metropolitan Adelaide council areas over two years.
  • Two projects utilising COTA SA’s The Plug-in methodology to explore the concepts of meaningful connections and navigating change amongst older people living in regional South Australia:
    • Navigating Change in the Regions project explores the barriers and enablers of individual and community resilience in the face of changes such as climate change, bushfires, COVID-19 and economic challenges.
    • The Meaningful Connections project explores what keeps individuals and communities connected and what gets in the way.

A comprehensive evaluation framework is being developed to assist Office for Ageing Well to assess the impact of activities under the Plan.

The annual Stop Elder Abuse campaign ran from 10 May – 20 June 2021 via digital and social media, metropolitan and regional radio, press, WeekendPlus – the Seniors Card digital magazine, and TV screens in pharmacies and GP clinics. The key message was that ‘Older people have rights’, with the SA Abuse Prevention Phone Line number 1800 372 310 and web URL continuing as the twin calls to action.

Aged Care Strategy Unit

Aged Care Assessment Teams in South Australia comprehensively assess the needs of frail older people to provide access to Commonwealth Government funded aged care services.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, South Australian Aged Care Assessment Program performed well against required timeliness and quality indicators in 2020-21. South Australia actioned 99.6 percent of all referrals within three calendar days, exceeding the National Key Performance Indicator target. South Australia also maintained timely performance in the completion of assessments across all settings, with the average number of days currently at 21 days, compared to 20.3 days nationally in 2020-21. As at 30 June 2021, Aged Care Assessment Teams actioned 27,186 referrals and completed 16,968 assessments across South Australia.

In addition to managing the operations of the Aged Care Assessment Program in South Australia, the Aged Care Strategy Unit also has responsibility for progressing a range of strategic projects, including:

  • Coordinating the Specialised Aged Care Reform Program across the Department for Health and Wellbeing. This reform program was developed to progress the streamed and layered model of care for people with dementia and enduring mental illness. Significant achievements in 2020-21 have included the opening of the Repat Health Precinct Neuro-Behavioural Unit for the care of people with the most extreme behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, and the creation of the Older Person’s Mental Health Leadership Group, which will have ongoing oversight of older person’s mental health models of care and continuous improvement.
  • Implementing the SA Health CCTV Pilot as an Australian first to explore the acceptability and viability of using audiovisual surveillance technology in two residential care facilities operated by SA Health. In March 2021, the pilot commenced at Mount Pleasant Aged Care and at Northgate House with recording devices in all common areas and bedrooms of residents who consented to participate in the pilot. Using Artificial Intelligence, adverse events are detected and alerts are sent to nursing staff at the sites. This pilot is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and the South Australian Government and aims to improve care outcomes for residents by providing greater visibility of adverse incidents enabling staff to respond effectively and to continuously improve care. The pilot will run for 12 months and will be independently evaluated.

Seniors Card Program

The Seniors Card Program supports social and economic participation of older people and their connectedness to the community. It contributes to making South Australia an affordable place to live by increasing access to free public transport, providing important information about community news, events and services. It also delivers discounts and benefits from participating businesses.

In 2020-21, the total number of Seniors Card members increased to 420,000 and subscriptions to WeekendPlus, the fortnightly digital seniors’ magazine, increased by 25 percent to 100,000. Of the approximately 20,000 new Seniors Card applications received in 2020-21, over 90 percent were made online.

Community Grants Program

The South Australian Government, through Office for Ageing Well, provides $600,000 in Ageing Community Grants to support community organisations and local government projects. These grants support South Australians to age well and promote opportunities for older South Australians to be involved and active in their communities.

In 2020-21, the Office for Ageing Well ran the Grants for Seniors, Positive Ageing Fellowship Grants and Age Friendly SA Grants rounds concurrently through an open process aimed at local government and community organisations across metropolitan and regional South Australia.

In 2020-21:

  • Grants for Seniors supported 25 projects at a total cost of $149,804.
  • Positive Ageing Fellowship Grants supported five projects, totalling $200,000.
  • A targeted grant of $50,000 was provided to The Australian Centre for Social Innovation to deliver ongoing coaching, mentoring and support to Positive Ageing Fellowship Grants recipients over the 12-month funding period to support sustainability.
  • Age Friendly SA Grants supported seven projects at a total cost of $200,000.

Outcomes achieved during the 2020-21 financial year include:

  • purchase of equipment
  • delivery of cultural, educational and sporting activities and programs
  • initiatives to tackle ageing stereotypes and support positive perceptions of ageing
  • initiatives that support ageing well, participation, learning and independence
  • initiatives to kick-start age friendly innovation projects to support opportunities for older people to connect to local places and community activities.

Retirement Villages Act 2016 and Retirement Villages Regulations 2017

Retirement Villages Unit

The Retirement Villages Unit (the RV Unit), within Office for Ageing Well, provides information, assistance and education sessions on retirement village matters, clarifying areas of concern, as well as providing a mediation service to help resolve disputes between residents and operators. The RV Unit investigates and assesses complaints and allegations of breaches of the Retirement Villages Act 2016 (the Act) and Regulations, underpinned by support and education rather than adversarial approaches to enforcement.

In 2020-21, legislative requirements under the Act were managed by the RV Unit, including one ASO7 Chief Retirement Villages Officer, one ASO6 Senior Information, Advice & Conciliation Officer, one ASO5 Senior Retirement Villages Officer and one ASO4 Retirement Villages Officer.
In 2020-21, the RV Unit:

  • responded to 690 cases relating to retirement village issues
  • conducted 54 meetings related to resident cases
  • delivered four presentations and information sessions to residents and interested groups
  • delivered monthly ‘retirement village information’ sessions at the Catalyst Foundation
  • undertook two mediations
  • provided advice and recommendations to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing.

Most queries in 2020-21 related to communication, exit entitlements/fees, committees and their operation, the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions and the 2021 review of the Act.

As at 30 June 2021, 532 retirement villages were registered across the State. Information about registered retirement villages in South Australia is available on Data SA at

There were four new villages registered in 2020-21, two villages were voluntarily terminated and one village was partially terminated. The new villages are located in Renmark, Adelaide City, Modbury and Flagstaff Hill. Under the Act, it is a requirement for all retirement village schemes to be registered within 28 days of the first resident taking up occupation.

The new registered villages are:

  • Spence on Light, 16 apartments in Light Square.
  • Encore Apartments, 77 Apartments in Modbury.
  • Murray Lodge, six villas in Renmark.
  • Living Choice, Flagstaff Hill.

Voluntary termination of a retirement village, including the partial termination of a village, can only occur with Ministerial approval. There were two villages terminated and one partial termination in 2020-21:

  • Booleroo Centre: The portion of the village terminated during the year consisted of four independent living units identified as no longer being used for the purposes of a retirement village scheme. There were no outstanding funds owing to past residents and the site is now being used for rental accommodation.
  • Kapunda: Site comprising of four units of a planned 15 sought termination when no units had been occupied after a number of years. The site will convert to community title and sell to the open market.
  • Stansbury: Village consisting of four villas attached to a residential aged care facility that had closed.

In 2020-21, there were 18,879 residences in retirement villages in South Australia. Calculations based on past census data showed that 60 percent of all residences (11,327) housed one person only, while the remaining 40 percent (7,552) of residences had dual occupancy. It is estimated that the number of people living in retirement villages totalled approximately 26,452.

The vast majority of retirement villages offer independent living units only. A small section of the sector provides serviced apartment accommodation, which caters to residents requiring assistance, including provision of meals, some cleaning and the availability of extra services.

Under the Retirement Villages Act 1987, there were 193 villages with exemptions, which have continued under the associated provisions of the Act:

  • Four under s 18: With client consent, no need to hold premium in Trust (Retirement Villages Act 1987).
  • 11 under s 26(1): Ingoing contribution does not have to be held in trust, max deposit $10,000 (Retirement Villages Act 2016).
  • 45 under s 22(c), 33(6), 34(8), 39, 40(4): Can have consolidated meetings and financial reports for resident funded and independent living resident groups (Retirement Villages Act 2016).
  • 111 under s 22(c), 33(6), 34(8), 40(4): Can have consolidated meetings, financial reports & interim financial reports (Retirement Villages Act 2016).
  • 19 under s 31(3): Operator exempt from assuming responsibility for depreciation (Retirement Villages Act 2016).
  • Two under s 57(1): Operator able to rent to persons not eligible under the Act (Retirement Villages Act 2016).
  • One under s 33: Operator is not required to hold annual meeting, while only one person in occupation (Retirement Villages Act 2016).

Compliance Activity

Commencing in 2019-20, a compliance audit was undertaken reviewing compliance with sections 33 and 34 of the Act in relation to residents’ annual meetings.

2020-21 focused on new legislative provisions introduced to improve transparency of resident finances at annual meetings, as well as resident protections. This has included ensuring certificates of title are properly endorsed to protect residents’ interests in the village and financial transparency at annual meetings. In 2019-20, 15 percent of operators were selected and in 2020-21, 19 percent of operators were randomly selected. Selected operators were required to present documentation relating to their 2020 annual meeting of residents. The documentation was checked against the requirements of the legislation and feedback provided to the operators. Pleasingly, the majority of provisions were complied with. There were minor non-compliances identified in 27 cases and one instance of moderate non-compliance. In each case, education has been provided to the operator and ongoing monitoring will occur.

Review of the Act

In line with the legislative requirement to review the Act three years after its commencement, a review of the Act commenced in January 2021.

The Review of the Retirement Villages Act 2016 (SA) Discussion Paper was released for public consultation on the YourSAy website on 29 January 2021, concluding on 16 April 2021. The consultation was publicised on the SA Health website, in the media and via a direct mail campaign to key stakeholders.

There were 262 submissions received. This was reduced to 187 responses once duplicates and nil responses online were removed: 94 written submissions (74 percent residents, four percent operators and 21 percent others); and 93 online submissions (75 percent residents, 11 percent operators and 14 percent others).

A consultants’ report with recommendations will be produced by the end of 2021.

Retirement Village Residents Advocacy Program

  • Since 2014, Office for Ageing Well has funded the Aged Rights Advocacy Service (ARAS) to provide an advocacy service to residents. The Retirement Village Residents Advocacy Program is a valuable resource to residents of retirement villages, providing advocacy support, information and advice on their rights.
  • The predominant contact with the Retirement Village Residents Advocacy Program is via telephone, with 77 percent of calls from metropolitan areas, 11 percent from rural areas with the balance remaining anonymous.
  • ARAS received 262 new requests for assistance in 2020-21, an increase of 14 percent from 2019-20. This included requests for general information about rights and advocacy services as well as relating to advocacy assistance. Advocates assisted with seven South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearings.
  •  ARAS delivered eight face-to-face information sessions within retirement villages for residents and staff of the village, emailed the Retirement Village online presentation (YouTube link) to one retirement village, and incorporated information about the Retirement Village Residents Advocacy Program generally in other information sessions.

Food Act 2001

Activities of the Health Protection Operations Branch

Health Protection Operations administers the regulatory functions of the Food Act 2001 (the Act) in the ‘Out-of-Council Areas’ within South Australia (‘unincorporated’ and Aboriginal Lands not serviced by a local council). These areas make up approximately 85 percent of South Australia’s geographical area and are typically very remote and often isolated, making staff safety a paramount element of all regulatory operations.

Health Protection Operations staff authorised under the Act are qualified Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) with extensive regulatory experience in rural, remote and Aboriginal communities. Food safety functions undertaken by Health Protection Operations include:

  • Monitoring and enforcement of compliance with food safety standards and of the safety and suitability of food
  • Routine and follow-up inspections of food businesses to ensure that the premises, equipment and food handling practices will result in the supply and sale of safe and suitable food
  • Food safety audits of businesses providing food to vulnerable populations
  • Responding to complaints in relation to food businesses and investigating food poisoning and disease outbreaks
  • Monitoring and taking action to ensure efficiency with which food is recalled for health and safety, and/or is removed from sale
  • Receiving food business notifications for new businesses or change to business details
  • Provision of food safety advice and delivery of educational programs and resources to food businesses, schools and communities.

The vast distances and extreme weather conditions associated with outback South Australia provide a challenging environment for both food business operators and regulators alike. Effective and thorough operational procedures and protocols ensure that risks associated with such an environment are well-managed and appropriate food safety and compliance standards are maintained.

Statistics about food businesses, staff and surveillance activities are provided below:

Table 1: Authorised officers

Authorised officers
Environmental health qualifications Full-time
6 6

Table 2: Food business and surveillance activity

Food business and surveillance activity
Area of operation ~ 837,000 km²(≈ 85% of geographic area of the state)
Number of businesses 120
Routine inspections conducted 112
Follow-up inspections conducted 5
Food Safety Audits conducted 8
Complaint inspections conducted 0

Table 3: Enforcement actions

Enforcement actions
Business type Prohibition order Improvement notices Expiations
Supermarket 0 0 0
Aged Care Facility 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0

2. Activities of the Food and Controlled Drugs Branch

Monitoring Compliance with the Food Act 2001

The Food and Controlled Drugs Branch (FCDB) conduct sampling of various foods that are of public health concern or confirm compliance with the compositional and labelling requirements of the Code. A key performance indicator has been established to analyse 800 food samples per year. For 2020-21, a total of 314 food samples were collected as part of food compliance investigations. This number is significantly lower than previous years as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.

Investigation of food safety issues 2020-21

Food safety related issues come to the attention of FCDB from a variety of sources including through routine food surveys, complaints from members of the public, reports from the food industry itself, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, EHOs in local government, other regulatory agencies, or notification of illness from the Communicable Disease Control Branch (CDCB). During 2020-21, a number of significant issues were investigated, summarised below:

  • The FCDB collaborated with local councils and the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA), where required, on a total of four foodborne illness investigations after notification from CDCB. Details of the major outbreaks can be found in Appendix 2 (PDF 128KB).
  • Investigations included onsite assessment of food handling practices in food businesses, sampling of food and environmental swabbing. The primary objective of these investigations is to remove any risk to public health, establish the cause of the outbreak, and ensure food businesses implement short-term and long-term corrective actions and determine if an offence has been committed against the Act.

Post investigation review

FCDB regularly conducts post-incident debriefs to review the effectiveness of policies and procedures applied during incident investigation.

Notifiable contaminants

The South Australian Public Health (Notifiable Contaminants) Regulations 2020 (the Regulations) came into force on 19 July 2020, and require specified microorganisms to be reported to FCDB by the analysing laboratory service (or business where the laboratory is interstate) when they are found in food and water samples. Food and water samples include all raw, partly processed (work in progress) and ready-to-eat foods including bottled water and ice and may also include live plants and animals.

The prescribed notifiable contaminants consist of pathogens such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes which cause foodborne illness. They also include indicator organisms such as non-pathogenic Listeria species and E. coli. These do not cause illness but can be used by the business to indicate that there may be suitable conditions in their environment for the growth of pathogenic bacteria and to take appropriate corrective actions. Further information about pathogenic and indicator organisms can be found in the Compendium of Microbiological Criteria for Food.

The collection of this data aims to support the Australian Foodborne Illness Reduction Strategy, in addition to enabling national and international profiles of the microorganisms of public health significance and their possible sources to be established.

The collection of this information has assisted SA Health in establishing contacts with South Australian businesses and created an opportunity to encourage partnerships for the betterment of public health.

When notifications are received, SA Health conducts a risk assessment to determine what, if any, actions are required. During the reporting period a total of 451 notifiable contaminants were notified to SA Health with notifications classified by product type into raw meat and poultry products and all other foods.

A total of 280 notifications were received for raw meat and poultry. As there are no limits for pathogens found in raw meat and poultry in the Code no action was required. The data confirms that raw meat and poultry can contain Salmonella and Campylobacter. This supports public messaging that raw meat and poultry should be cooked prior to consumption.

A total of 171 notifications were received for all other foods. Risk assessments of 168 of these notifications determined that action was not required because there was no risk to public health. For example notifications of indicator organisms (non-pathogenic), in products not available for sale to the public, products that met the specifications in Standard 1.6.1 of the Code (ready-to-eat foods that do not support the growth of Listeria monocytogenes), and products to be cooked by the consumer which destroys foodborne pathogens.

Three notifications resulted in two businesses recalling multiple product lines.

Listeria monocytogenes is a micro-organism of specific concern to public health. In the reporting period there were 22 Listeria monocytogenes notifications, all of which were investigated. Table 4 provides a summary of the investigation outcomes.

Eight isolates have been whole genome sequenced and included on a national database for Listeria monocytogenes. These food isolates have not been linked to any human cases to date.

Table 4: Summary of investigation outcomes for Listeria monocytogenes notifications in 2020-21

Summary of investigation outcomes for Listeria monocytogenes notifications in 2020-21/caption>
Outcome Type No. of outcome occurrences
Notifications leading to recalls 3
Product meeting the specifications of Standard 1.6.1 to not support the growth of Listeria monocytogenes 9*
Trial products or work in progress 3
Subject to test and hold procedures and not released for sale 2
Foods that are not ready-to eat and require cooking by the consumer 3
Referred to the jurisdiction the product was made in 2
Total 22

*Four of these notifications related to two products of the same batch.

Food recalls

Food recalls conducted by all food businesses are nationally coordinated by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). A food business undertaking a recall is responsible for ensuring that the recall is carried out as soon as an issue is identified. Standard 3.2.2 of the Code requires food businesses that engage in the wholesale supply, manufacture or importation of food to have a system in place to ensure the recall of unsafe food. There are two levels of recall, a trade level and a consumer level recall. A trade level recall is conducted when the food has not been available for direct purchase by the public, such as food sold to wholesalers and caterers. A consumer level recall is conducted when the food has been available for retail sale. This usually includes advertisements in newspapers or on social media platforms to inform consumers of the recall. The FCDB informs local councils state-wide of the recall and requests that they check food businesses in their local council area to ensure they are complying with the recall. 

FSANZ acted as coordinator for 83 food recalls nationally during 2020-21 (Table 5). This consisted of seven trade level recalls, where a company has only provided products to distribution centres, wholesalers and food services. As the product was not released in retail stores and could easily be retrieved, a consumer level recall was not required.

In another two instances, combined trade and consumer level recalls were conducted as there was a possibility that a small amount of product may have been available directly to consumers. Seventy-four consumer level recalls were conducted, where it was necessary to recover product from retail outlets and/or consumers. In total, South Australia was affected by 45 recalls where recalled product had been distributed in the state.

Table 5: Summary of recalls conducted in 2020-21

Type of Recall

  • Consumer 74
  • Trade 7
  • Consumer & Trade 2
  • Total 83

Reason for Recall

  • Undeclared allergens 38
  • Foreign matter 10
  • Microbiological contamination 19
  • Labelling 3
  • Chemical contamination 7
  • Biotoxin contamination 1
  • Other 5
  • Total 83

Recalls affecting SA

  • National 17
  • SA & other jurisdictions 43
  • SA only 2
  • SA not affected 38

Enforcement actions

FCDB is responsible for monitoring food industry compliance with Chapters 1 and 2 of the Code and is involved with investigating compliance matters associated with Chapters 3 and 4 found during audits, surveys, complaints and investigation of illness. SA Health’s Public Health Services Enforcement Framework provides authorised officers with guidance about the way enforcement activities are to be undertaken.

Local government is responsible for conducting routine food business inspections to verify compliance with Chapter 3 of the Code (see Appendix 1 (PDF 248KB).

Where the FCDB identifies non-compliance in a food business, corrective actions are addressed through a graduated and proportionate response. Once effective corrective action is confirmed, no further enforcement action is undertaken. Should non-compliance remain unresolved, enforcement action can be escalated. Table 6 provides a summary of the enforcement activities undertaken by FCDB.

Table 6: Enforcement activities undertaken in 2020-21

Enforcement activities
Letters of warning Expiations issued Improvement notices Emergency orders Prosecutions
2 0 0 0 0

Activities undertaken

The table below identifies the enquiries, complaints, referrals, incident management and food safety resource requests actioned by FCDB.

Table 7: Nature of activities in 2020-21

Nature of activities
Category Category Number
Complaint Alleged food poisoning
Complaint Allergens
Complaint Food contamination
Complaint Labelling
Complaint Alleged non-compliance with Food Standard 3.2.2
Complaint Alleged non-compliance with Food Standard 3.2.3
Enquiries General food matters
Enquiries New business information
Enquiries Request for resources
Incident management Investigations
Incident management Recalls
Incident management Referrals from CDCB
Total   992

Food safety management

Food safety programs have been mandated nationally for businesses providing food to vulnerable populations in hospitals, aged care facilities, childcare centres, and via delivered meals organisations such as Meals on Wheels.

National Food Safety Standard 3.3.1 (audited mandatory food safety programs for food services to vulnerable persons) became enforceable in South Australia in October 2008. The department has continued to liaise with industry, local government and food safety auditors to develop monitoring and review systems, to ensure effective management of the audit process in SA food businesses to whom this standard applies.

In 2020–21, the department continued to conduct food safety audits of public hospitals, Department of Human Services (DHS) businesses such as Disability Services and not-for-profit social care and delivered meals organisations including Royal District Nursing Services (RDNS) SA and Meals on Wheels SA. These facilities are audited at the frequency determined by the performance of individual sites, in line with the priority classification for these businesses. Food audit statistics are provided below.

Table 8: Food audit statistics 2020-21

Food audit statistics
Risk classification Number of businesses Routine audits
Public hospital 72 75
Not-for-profit delivered meals organisations 40 46
Aged care/child care audited in regional areas/ DHS /RDNS 9 9

Auditor Training for Department for Health and Wellbeing and Local Government Officers

The annual SA Health Auditor Forum was unable to be conducted in 2020-21 due to COVID-19 restrictions, however ongoing communication with Department for Health and Wellbeing Approved Auditors aimed to improve consistency of interpretation and professional development for the auditor workforce. The department continues to facilitate the Lead Auditor in Food Safety Management Systems training sessions. Two training sessions were held in 2020-21 reporting period.

3. Foodborne disease investigations in South Australia 2020-21

Epidemiological investigations into foodborne disease outbreaks within South Australia are coordinated by the Disease Surveillance and Investigation Section and OzFoodNet staff who are based within CDCB. OzFoodNet is a national network that conducts enhanced foodborne disease surveillance.

OzFoodNet and other CDCB staff work in collaboration with a range of stakeholders when investigating outbreaks. SA Pathology conducts microbiological testing and molecular typing of isolates from humans, food and environmental samples. Local government EHOs and FCDB provide food technology and environmental investigation expertise, in addition to performing environmental and food premises investigations. Biosecurity SA staff assist with trace back investigations and implement control measures with primary producers where appropriate.

CDCB staff conduct interviews with cases to obtain food histories when clusters of suspected foodborne disease are detected. This information is used to identify frequently consumed food items and may lead to further investigations. When further investigations are required, it is often in the form of analytical studies that aim to demonstrate a statistical association between illness and the consumption of a particular food item, eating at a particular premise, or an environmental exposure. When a food and/or premise are suspected on epidemiological grounds, laboratory evidence (e.g. microbiological testing of food and environmental samples) can support the observed epidemiological associations.

The specific food vehicle or source of an outbreak is often difficult to identify. An implicated food item may no longer be available or suitable for microbiological testing, making it impossible to provide laboratory evidence for the source of an outbreak. Cases may also have difficulty remembering foods consumed or premises visited if an appreciable time has passed between the exposure and the interview.

Outbreak Investigations

During 2020-21, SA Health investigated four outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness (Table 9) that were known or suspected to be foodborne and for which a common source was identified. The settings for the outbreaks were varied and included two associated with primary production and one each associated with a restaurant and a bakery. Further details about outbreaks investigated during 2020-21 and their exposure settings are found in Appendix 2 (PDF 128KB).

This summary does not include outbreaks that were suspected to be person-to-person transmission, animal-to-person transmission, or from an environmental source (including swimming pools).

Table 9: Summary of foodborne disease investigations in South Australia 2020-21

Summary of foodborne disease investigations
N Month and year Organism Setting No. ill No. laboratory confirmed Evidence
1 Jan 2021 Campylobacter Restaurant 6 3 D
2 Mar 2021 Vibrio Parahaemolyticus Primary Production 21* 21* D
3 Apr 2021 S.Tm MLVA 03-14-10-08-523 Bakery
7 7 D
4 May 2021 S.Tm MLVA 03-11-09/10-08-523 Primary Production
9 9 D


* = Includes cases resident in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia
No. = Number
D = Descriptive evidence (i.e. information obtained from interviewing cases and/or inspections of premises)
S.Tm – Salmonella Typhimurium
MLVA= Multi-locus variable number tandem repeat analysis

In 2020-21, there was one multijurisdictional outbreak investigation (MJOI) that included South Australian cases, but was led by another jurisdiction. This MJOI commenced in January 2019 and Salmonella Saintpaul included 17 confirmed South Australian cases of the same genetic strain. Nationally there were 580 cases (to 27 May 2021) with the same genetic strain, the majority of which were residents of New South Wales and Queensland. Foods eaten at more than expected levels as determined by binomial analysis on cases nationally (P<0.05) included spring onions, cabbage, parsley, pre-made pasta salad and pre-made potato salad. S. Saintpaul was identified in a pre-made coleslaw and spring onion raw ingredient in New South Wales. All on farm testing for fresh produce suppliers did not detect S. Saintpaul. In South Australia, retail samples of ready to eat salads were tested and no Salmonella was detected.

Cluster investigations

In addition to the previously mentioned outbreaks, four clusters of potential foodborne illness for which no common source could be identified, were also investigated in 2020-21. A summary of clusters investigated are listed in Table 10.

A cluster is defined as an increase in a specific infection in terms of time, person or place, where the source and mode of transmission remains unknown. There were two clusters of Salmonella and two clusters of Shiga toxin producing E. coli investigated. Hypothesis generating interviews were conducted with most cases. All clusters were general increases in specific infections in the community without a common source identified and only descriptive evidence was available for all the investigations

Table 10: Summary of cluster investigations in South Australia 2020-21

cluster investigations
Number Month and Year Organism Number ill
1 August 2020 Shiga toxin producing E. coli – multiple serogroups 8
2 September 2020 Salmonella Chailey 7
3 November 2020 Shiga toxin producing E. coli serogroup O26 8
4 November 2020 Salmonella Typhimurium MLVA 03-15-08-11-550 7

MLVA= multi-locus variable tandem repeat analysis.
S.Tm – Salmonella Typhimurium

Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) activities under the Food Act 2001

Biosecurity is a division of PIRSA and administers the Primary Produce (Food Safety Schemes) (Meat Industry) Regulations 2017. The regulations require butcher shops to hold accreditation and comply with relevant food safety standards. Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between SA Health and PIRSA, both agencies share risk management principles that minimise regulatory burden and duplication. In practice, to avoid duplication, butcher shops that sell food other than meat and conduct activities regulated under the Food Act 2001 are inspected by PIRSA officers. A number of PIRSA officers have been appointed authorised officers under the Food Act 2001.

During 2020-21, 965 audits were conducted by Biosecurity officers on 546 butcher shops including supermarkets, where a component of audits addressed other retail activities regulated under the Food Act 2001. During the audits, 51 Corrective Action Requests (CARs) were issued which related to their food safety program, hygiene or construction, and required follow up visits. No expiation notices or penalties were issued.

Safe Drinking water Act 2001

The objectives of the Safe Drinking Water Act 2011 (the Act) and Safe Drinking Water Regulations 2012 (the Regulations) are to:

  • ensure that drinking water supplied to the South Australian public is safe
  • provide direction to drinking water providers on how to achieve a safe drinking water supply
  • implement principles of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2011 (ADWG).

The Act requires:

  • registration of drinking water providers
  • development and implementation of Risk Management Plans (RMPs) for individual drinking water supplies including approved monitoring programs and incident protocols
  • audit or inspection of drinking water supplies
  • reporting of incidents to the department
  • provision of water quality results to the public on request.

The department administers the Act with assistance from local government. Activities are outlined in council reports in Appendix 3 (PDF 564KB). Within the department, the Water Quality Unit is responsible for day to day administration of the Act with assistance from the Health Protection Operations and Food Safety and Audit sections.

Registration of drinking water providers

During 2020-21, the department registered five new drinking water providers and nine drinking water providers cancelled their registration. At 30 June 2021, there were 179 drinking water providers registered with the department. Some providers include multiple drinking water supplies under one registration. SA Water has a dual registration which includes a total of 87 water supplies while the department for Education’s single registration includes 61 schools and preschools.

As required under Section 11 of the Act, the department maintains a list of registered drinking water providers on the SA Health website. Councils are advised of drinking water providers within their area on a minimum annual basis.

Risk management plans

All drinking water providers must have a RMP that includes an approved monitoring program and an incident protocol. During 2020-21, the department reviewed RMPs for new drinking water providers and provided assistance as required. Advice was also provided on the review and amendment of RMPs for existing providers where sought or required to rectify non-compliance identified as part of a drinking water inspection or audit.

Water quality incidents

Under Section 13 of the Act, a drinking water provider’s RMP must include a procedure for identifying, notifying and responding to water quality incidents. The department receives notification of incidents and provides advice and direction on remedial actions required to maintain safety of drinking water supplies.

Incidents reported by SA Water

SA Water incidents are reported according to the interagency Water/Wastewater Incident Notification and Communication Protocol (the Protocol). Under the Protocol the department fulfils the role of the Water Incident Coordinator. Incidents are classified as Priority Type 1, Type 1 or Type 2 health incidents:

  • Priority Type 1 incidents are likely to require an immediate interagency meeting to develop responses and consider possible issuing of public advice. In the absence of appropriate interventions these incidents could cause serious risk to human health
  • Type 1 water quality incidents, in the absence of appropriate intervention could cause serious risk to human health
  • Type 2 incidents represent a low risk to human health but may provide preliminary warnings of more serious incidents.

During 2020-21, the department received notification of one Priority Type 1 incident, 44 Type 1 incidents and 62 Type 2 incidents from SA Water. The total number of reported incidents was similar to 2019-20.

The Priority Type 1 incident was due to elevated levels of a potentially toxic cyanobacterium at the inlet to the Wirrina Cove Water Treatment Plant. Increased treatment and dosing of the reservoir with copper sulfate minimised the risk to public health.

There was an increase in incidents arising from unauthorised access to reservoirs which were visited by a growing number of people in 2020-2021. Incidents associated with contamination of drinking water storage tanks also increased. A flushing program initiated to improve aesthetic quality of drinking water and remove corrosion products from ageing sections of distribution networks resulted in a number of temporary chemical exceedances that were resolved as part of the program. An audit of properties supplied by the Virginia Pipeline Scheme detected a number of cross-connections between drinking water and recycled water pipework within property boundaries. There was no evidence that recycled water had entered the public drinking water supply.

There was a reduction in the number of incidents caused by detection of cyanobacteria and enteric protozoa in source waters in 2020-21 compared to 2019-20. Cooler summer temperatures and lower winter rainfall may have contributed to the reduction. Incidents associated with water filtration and disinfection and customer complaints about dirty water were also reduced. The department:

  • Coordinated communication and responses to all Priority Type 1 and Type 1 incidents
  • Liaised with SA Water during Priority Type 1 and Type 1 incidents to ensure remedial actions or responses were implemented in a timely manner including:
    • elevated concentrations of cyanobacteria in source water
    • potential contamination of reservoirs due to unauthorised recreational access
    • detection of potentially human infectious Cryptosporidium in source waters
    • detection of E.coli in a drinking water storage
    • drinking water storage tank contamination due to access by animals
    • potential contamination of a drinking water storage tank due to a security breach
    • elevated levels of disinfection by products
    • exceedances of chemical guideline values
    • drinking water contamination due to addition of an incorrectly labelled treatment chemical
    • cross connection between drinking water and recycled water supplies.

Water quality incidents were notified by SA Water within prescribed time limits. Implementation of appropriate remedial actions ensured that protection of public health was maintained at all times. No public notifications were required for these incidents.

Incidents reported by other drinking water providers

In 2020-21 there were 13 drinking water incidents reported to the department by providers other than SA Water. Nine of the incidents were due to the detection of E.coli in drinking water supplies. The department provided advice on chlorination of water tanks and flushing of pipework followed by resampling of the water supply where required. One drinking water provider replaced use of a piped drinking water supply with packaged water in response to repeated E.coli detections. The provider is working toward use of an alternative drinking water source.

Other incidents were caused by inadequate disinfection, overdosing of chlorine, chemical exceedance and elevated conductivity of treated water. In each case appropriate responses were implemented.

Approval of auditors and inspectors

Auditors and inspectors are approved under Section 15 of the Act in line with established competency criteria. Approval as either a Level 1 or 2 Auditor or Level 3 Inspector is based on technical skills and experience.

The types of drinking water supply that can be audited or inspected by an individual are defined in approval conditions. In 2020-21, the department:

  • approved one Level 1 Auditor and one Level 2 Auditor
  • reapproved one Level 2 Auditor following expiry of existing approvals
  • provided access to online drinking water quality training for local government employees
  • provided support for local government auditors and inspectors.

At 30 June 2021 there were 33 approved auditors and inspectors including independent auditors, department staff, local government employees and officers from Dairysafe. The department maintains a list of approved auditors and inspectors here on the SA Health website.

Audits and inspections

The Act requires that all drinking water providers are subject to an audit or inspection every year or every two years as described in a schedule published in the Government Gazette. Reports of all audits and inspections are required to be submitted to the department within 21 days of the audit or inspection being undertaken. Under Section 20(4) of the Act, the drinking water provider is responsible for ensuring the audit or inspection is carried out in accordance with the published schedule.

The Water Quality Unit oversees the audit and inspection program and where possible coordinates drinking water audit and inspections with the activities of the Health Protection Operation and Food Safety and Audit sections to avoid duplication and cost to providers. Audits and inspections are also performed by local government and independent auditors. Dairysafe undertakes inspections of independent drinking water supplies used by dairy processors as part of existing food safety audit activities.

During 2020-21 the department carried out 31 audits and 18 inspections of drinking water supplies. The department also received copies of two audit and 13 inspection reports from local government and independent auditors including a comprehensive audit report covering a number of SA Water supplies. The total number of audits and inspections undertaken was lower than in previous years due to disruptions associated with Covid-19. A risk assessment was undertaken to prioritise audits/inspections undertaken by the Water Quality Unit, with visits to drinking water providers rated as ‘high risk’ completed during the reporting period.

The department maintains a database of non-compliances reported as an outcome of audit and inspection of drinking water providers. A range of non-compliances were noted in 2020-21 including incomplete or insufficient RMPs, failure to notify a water quality incident and lack of detail or absence of documentation relating to maintenance activities and water quality monitoring. None of the non-compliances resulted in a drinking water supply being declared unsafe. The department continues to provide advice and recommendations on improvements to documentation, operational practices and water treatment options for these providers. Follow-up processes or changes in inspection/audit frequency are implemented by the department as required to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Act.

Quality of water and provision of results

Under Section 27 of the Act, drinking water providers must make results of any monitoring program available to the public.

SA Water provides consumers with water quality information through publication of data on their website and in their annual report. Other drinking water providers can provide results to consumers on request by letter, email or telephone.

Approval of laboratories

No laboratories were approved during the reporting period. Approved water quality testing laboratories are listed here on the SA Health website.

Administration and enforcement

The Act incorporates enforcement provisions including the appointment of authorised officers with appropriate qualifications and experience. The Minister signed an Instrument of Authorisation in November 2019 giving authorised officers authority to issue expiation notices pursuant to the Expiation of Offences Act 1996 for offences committed under the Act and Regulations.

In 2020-21, no new appointments were made within the department. There were
11 authorised officers as at 30 June 2020, all of whom are authorised to issue expiations. Authorised officers appointed by local government are provided in council annual reports (Appendix 2 (PDF 128KB).

Consultation with the local government sector

Under Section 50 of the Act, the Minister must take reasonable steps to consult with the LGA from time to time in relation to the administration and enforcement of the Act.

During 2020-21, consultation with the LGA on the Act was deferred due to prioritisation of activities associated with Covid-19. The department continued to support local councils in the administration and enforcement of the Act, including discussions about the impacts of Covid-19 on undertaking routine drinking water audits and inspections. The Water Quality Unit also assisted councils with complex water quality issues.

Following a water quality complaint, the Water Quality Unit visited a property with council representatives to assess the suitability of a shallow bore as a source of drinking water.

Training opportunities to facilitate drinking water audits and inspections were discussed with a number of councils for implementation in the coming months.

Reporting required under the Carers Recognition Act 2005

SA Health continues to recognise the importance of carers through a commitment to ensuring better engagement in shared decision-making in South Australian hospitals.

The SA Health Consumer, Carer and Community Engagement Strategic Framework 2021-2025 released in March 2021, reinforces our commitment to partnering with consumers, carers and the community in their own care as well as in planning, co-design, governance, measurement and evaluation of our health services.

The SA Health Partnering with Carers Strategic Action Plan 2017-2020 was underpinned by the Carers Recognition Act 2005 and the South Australian Carers Charter. The Strategic Action Plan oversees the state coordination and monitoring of the whole of health strategy which supports the implementation of the SA Health Partnering with Carers Policy Directive.

The Partnering with Carers Strategic Action Plan Overview Report outlines our achievements in relation to our key priorities including:

  • Early identification and recognition
  • Carers are engaged as partners in care
  • Carers provide comments and feedback
  • Carer-friendly workplace
  • Celebrate carers during National Carers Week
  • Staff education and training.

Consumer, carer and community feedback and complaints provide an opportunity to observe the quality of our healthcare from their perspective. This helps us to improve the quality of services and identify safety and quality related problems within healthcare organisations.

The SA Health Consumer, Carer and Community Feedback and Complaints Management Strategic Framework 2021-2024, Guide and Resources were also released in March 2021. The Framework ensures mechanisms are in place to:

  • actively manage carer feedback and complaints
  • better respond to carer feedback and concerns
  • identify and rectify system issues and
  • develop and improve services for carers.

Consumer, carer and community engagement is an essential function and governance undertaken by the LHN. As part of the LHN Service Agreement and National Safety and Quality Health Standards, LHNs are required to provide an overview on ‘Partnering with Carers’ and compliance with the Carers Recognition Act 2005, in the Safety and Quality Account Report 2021-22.

The Carers – Partnering with you website continues to provide information for Carers at Information available on the website includes the policy directive, strategic action plan, overview report, information on how to provide carer feedback and list of local health care service contacts, how to engage with the LHNs, knowing your rights, practical guide for working with carers of people with a mental illness, support information for Carers SA and Carer Gateway.

Following the National Carers Survey in October 2020, SA Health wrote to all LHN Chief Executive Officers and provided the National Carer Survey results. LHNs were invited to meet with Mr David Militz, Chief Executive Officer, Carers SA to discuss the survey findings and future opportunities to support carers throughout their health care services. A number of LHNs have already met with Carers SA, and collaborations have been established. SA Health continues to collaborate with Carers SA.

COVID-19 delayed implementation of the Mental Health Carer Experience Survey (CES) project which was put on hold from March to August 2020. In September 2020, the reports on pilot outcomes were sent to the LHNs to develop their action plans, based on the data collected. The data was gathered from a total of 200 carers who had contact with 31 mental health teams across nine LHNs and provided feedback about their experiences when interacting with SA Health mental health services.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist, with the support of the nominated Carer Champions from each LHN, developed a framework and a toolkit to inform the second stage of the project, which will see CES implemented within all the public mental health services across South Australia.

In October 2020, the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist produced a set the videos ‘Mental Health Carers Have a Lot to Say’ to celebrate Mental Health Week and Carers week. The Chief Psychiatrist, the Chief Executive Officers of Carers SA and Lived Experience Australia, Carer Consultants, and Carer Representatives participated in the production of the videos, which encouraged mental health staff to offer the survey and carers to complete it. The videos will continue to be used to promote the statewide implementation of CES in 2021.