The Marshall Liberal Government today rolls out a new public awareness campaign urging South Australians experiencing, or at risk of, abuse and neglect – and anyone concerned about the welfare of others – to seek support by calling an expanded hotline.
From 1 October, the Adult Safeguarding Unit will expand its services to respond to reports of abuse or neglect for adults living with disability, regardless of age.
The Unit’s expansion builds on the Government’s election commitment, and is a direct recommendation and action highlighted by the independent safeguarding taskforce, which delivered its final report to the Marshall Liberal Government in August.
Starting today, the month-long public awareness campaign will:
* Ensure the community is informed of the Unit’s expanded role;
* Inform the community how to make a report to the Unit and;
* Inform the community the Unit’s SA Abuse Prevention Phone Line is available for confidential advice and support.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the expansion of the state-first unit would provide even broader protection against abuse and neglect of vulnerable South Australians.
“This week, a new public awareness campaign is being launched to ensure South Australians are aware this new hotline is ready to assist and help protect them from abuse or neglect,” Minister Wade said.
“Under the previous Labor Government, before this Government established the ASU as part of it’s response to the Oakden scandal, there was no single government agency in the state with a clear statutory responsibility for safeguarding vulnerable adults who are experiencing abuse or neglect.”
Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink urged vulnerable South Australians, their loved ones and the community to call the hotline if they need or know someone who needs support.
“In the wake of Ann Marie Smith’s tragic death, it is clear many people in the community do not know where to turn to for help,” said Minister Lensink.
“The new public awareness campaign launched today is urging South Australians to get the support they may need, but also inform the community that there is help on the other side of the phone line.
“South Australians experiencing, or at risk of abuse, are urged to call the South Australian Abuse Prevention Phone Line on 1800 372 310.”
Minister Lensink said the Marshall Liberal Government was taking swift action to close safeguarding gaps in response to recommendations of the independent safeguarding taskforce.
“Expanding the services of the Adult Safeguarding Unit provides a real boost in protection for people with disability who may be vulnerable,” said Minister Lensink.
“With a statutory responsibility to respond to all reports of actual or suspected abuse and the powers to investigate – including making visits to private homes – the Adult Safeguarding Unit is well-placed to ensure that no one in need of help will be left to fall through the cracks.
“The Adult Safeguarding Unit ensures that people experiencing abuse or neglect are not left to navigate complex systems alone.”
The Unit works flexibly to respond to every report as appropriate for each individual’s unique situation. While in most cases the Unit will act with the consent of the adult at risk, where a person’s life or physical safety is at immediate risk, the Unit can take action without consent, including reporting the matter to SA Police.
The Adult Safeguarding Unit opened on 1 October 2019, delivering a Marshall Liberal Government 100-day election commitment to table adult safeguarding legislation that provides legal safeguards for adults who may be vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
At first, the Unit focused on supporting older adults and elder abuse.
As a result of recommendations made to the independent safeguarding taskforce, the Marshall Liberal Government brought forward by three years the expansion of the Unit to cover vulnerable adults of any age.
South Australian Abuse Prevention Phone Line: 1800 372 310