The State Government will today introduced landmark legislation to establish an Adult Safeguarding Unit in South Australia.

The Office for the Ageing (Adult Safeguarding) Amendment Bill 2018 is the first of its kind in Australia and protects adults who are vulnerable to abuse or neglect.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the legislation is in direct response to issues identified in the Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service, and will provide much-needed safeguards for vulnerable adults.

“The South Australian Government has followed through on its commitment to develop legislation to uphold the rights of vulnerable adults,” said Minister Wade.

“For the first time, an Adult Safeguarding Unit will be established to make it easier for the community to report suspected or actual cases of abuse or neglect of vulnerable adults.

“Additionally, the Unit will be empowered to investigate issues and to request information from government and non-government organisations.

“Working closely with South Australia Police, its key focus will be to minimise harm through early intervention, multiagency coordination and information-sharing.”

Minister Wade said the new Adult Safeguarding Unit will simplify escalation processes and benefit the wider community.

“In the past in South Australia, we have seen some of the worst cases of abuse in vulnerable people, and we never want to see that repeated,” Minister Wade said.

“We understand that vulnerable adults may feel uncomfortable contacting the police regarding matters that involve their family or friends.

“The legislation will ensure people with decision-making capacity have the clear right to refuse support and assistance, which will protect privacy and guard against unwanted intrusion.”

The legislation was developed after broad consultation and is based on the recommendations of national and state inquiries.

It will be supported by the development of new regulations and Code of Practice, in consultation with vulnerable adults, carers, families and stakeholder organisations.

The Office for the Ageing (Adult Safeguarding) Amendment Bill 2018 also includes the change of the name of the Office for the Ageing, to the Office for Ageing Well.

Following its passage through Parliament, the legislation will commence in 2019.

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