Department of Human Services

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Annual Report 2019–20


Hon Michelle Lensink MLC
Minister for Human Services

This annual report will be presented to Parliament to meet the statutory reporting requirements of the Public Sector Act 2009, Public Sector Regulations 2010, Public Finance and Audit Act 1987, Carers Recognition Act 2005, Julia Farr Services (Trusts) Act 2007, Water Industry Act 2012, and the Youth Justice Administration Act 2016, and the requirements of Premier and Cabinet Circular PC013 Annual Reporting Requirements.

This report is verified to be accurate for the purposes of annual reporting to the Parliament of South Australia.

Submitted on behalf of the Department of Human Services by:

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive

30 September 2020

From the Chief Executive

From the Chief Executive

In accordance with the Public Sector Act 2009, I am pleased to present the annual report for the South Australian Department of Human Services (DHS) for the year ended 30 June 2020.

In the past 12 months DHS has continued reform and service improvements across the department in line with government priorities. These include reforms to disability services and strategies to promote disability inclusion, delivering on commitments to address domestic and family violence, progressing a new child and family support system, grants reform, strategies and reforms in youth justice services, and improvements to screening and concessions.

Since December 2019, a primary focus has been the emergency relief and recovery effort in response to the devastating 2019-20 bushfire season and, since February 2020, responding to the COVID-19 health emergency to support the wellbeing of vulnerable people.

On 23 December 2019, the State Emergency Relief Fund (SERF) was activated when the Governor of South Australia formally declared the Cudlee Creek fire a proclaimed situation in accordance with the Emergency Management Act 2004. In early January 2020, the Governor extended this proclamation to include the Kangaroo Island fires. DHS is responsible for the administration of SERF.

Through SERF, the SA Bushfire Appeal provided a mechanism to receive donations through a public appeal and disburse to those who suffered injury, loss or damage as a result of the fires. As of 30 June 2020, approximately $8.9 million in donations had been received with almost $6 million distributed to applicants through approximately 1,700 gift payments. Through the State Recovery Office (SRO), DHS also played a key role in supporting recovery in communities following the fires. From 4 May 2020, SRO commenced reporting into the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. SRO has been an important part of DHS for many years and I would like to thank them for their outstanding work.

DHS has played a key role in supporting the community and the community sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. The department has been responsible for the administration and delivery of several government stimulus measures. These include the once-off boost payment of $500 and bringing forward of the 2020–21 Cost of Living Concession for households who receive Centrelink JobSeeker Payments, and the $500 payment under the International Student Support Package for eligible international students. DHS is also responsible for the delivery of the Residential Rental Grants Scheme which provides payments of up to $1,000 to landlords who provide rent reductions to tenants whose income has been significantly affected by COVID-19. Applications for the Scheme opened in late June 2020.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department also:

  • provided additional funding of $1.6 million to support the food security and emergency relief sector
  • allocated $2.4 million to initiatives as part of the Commonwealth Government’s $150 million additional funding commitment to address an expected increase in domestic violence
  • implemented a special Grants SA 2020–21 COVID-19 Support Grant initiative, which enabled community organisations to apply for grants of up to $10,000 so they can continue to deliver programs during the health emergency
  • worked with the not-for-profit sector to provide intelligence to the State Emergency Centre and share plans and public health information to frontline workers across the state
  • took steps to support the continuation of vital services to vulnerable people across our state.

In 2019–20, a number of key strategies were released to deliver on government reform agendas, following extensive consultation with key stakeholders and the community. These include:

  • Co-Design Findings and Next Steps: Child and Family Support System (June – October 2019) which outlines the findings from the initial co-design process for South Australia’s new Child and Family Support System
  • South Australia’s first State Disability Inclusion Plan 2019–2023 (Inclusive SA), which underpins a whole-of-government effort to improve access and inclusion for South Australians living with disability
  • Strong Futures: SA Youth Action Plan (2020–2022,) which is guiding practical, coordinated strategies to improve outcomes for young South Australians
  • Young People Connected, Communities Protected: South Australia’s Youth Justice State Plan 2020-2023 which sets reform and improvement priorities for youth justice. This includes a strong focus on addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people.

In June, it was announced that our valued colleague Jacky Costanzo had been recognised in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday honours. Jacky received the Public Service Medal for her outstanding service to the communities of the APY Lands and in Ceduna.

Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to thank all DHS staff for their dedicated and committed work during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly frontline support staff who continued to provide critical ongoing services to South Australians.

Lois Boswell
Chief Executive
Department of Human Services

Overview: about the agency

Overview: about the agency

Our strategic focus

Our Purpose

The Department of Human Services (DHS) delivers strategies, programs and services that improve the wellbeing and safety of South Australians.

Our Vision

Fairness, opportunity and choice for all South Australians.

Our Values

  • Service
  • Professionalism
  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Collaboration and Engagement
  • Honesty and Integrity
  • Courage and Tenacity
  • Sustainability.

Our functions, objectives and deliverables

The department’s strategic goals are:

  • Better services and programs that make a lasting difference for individuals, families and communities
  • A customer-focused organisation that puts people first
  • Accountable, efficient, open and collaborative government
  • A motivated, skilled, safe and inclusive workforce.

The department:

  • Commissions human services across the not-for-profit sector
  • Invests in the community through grants and funding
  • Provides core services in areas including:
    • youth justice
    • disability accommodation
    • concessions and rebates
    • employment-related screening
    • family safety and support
  • Leads government reform agendas, including disability inclusion and the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), intensive family support services and women’s equality and safety.

Changes to the agency

During 2019–20 there were the following changes to the agency’s structure and objectives as a result of internal reviews or machinery of government changes.

  • Following machinery of government changes, the Community and Family Services Division was established, comprising the Early Intervention Research Directorate (EIRD), Safer Family Services and Community Services. The new division consolidates direct service delivery and commissioning of non-government child abuse and neglect early intervention and prevention services that were previously spread across DHS, the Department for Education and the Department for Child Protection. During 2019–20, the division has led a significant co-design process to develop key elements of the new child and family support system in collaboration with the non-government sector.
  • From 4 May 2020, the State Recovery Office commenced reporting into the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC). This consolidated recovery resources into DPC and supports a coordinated and strategic focus on recovery, both for the 2019–20 bushfires and COVID-19.

Our Minister

Minister Lensink is responsible for the Human Services portfolio. Through DHS, the Minister has responsibility for:

  • community and family services and grant programs
  • concessions and financial resilience programs
  • remaining disability programs
  • youth justice
  • screening services, and
  • lead policy responsibility in relation to youth, volunteers and carers.

Addressing domestic and family violence and supporting the transition to the NDIS are key priorities of the Minister.

Our Executive team

DHS Executive Leadership Team as at 30 June 2020.

Lois Boswell, Acting Chief Executive

Lois Boswell was appointed as the Acting Chief Executive on 22 March 2020 and is responsible for the strategic agenda, performance and governance of the department. Functions reporting directly to the Acting Chief Executive include:

  • Finance and Business Services
  • Disability Services
  • Disability and Inclusion
  • Community and Family Services
  • Youth Justice Services
  • Office for Women
  • Office of the Chief Executive.

Kim Summers, Acting Deputy Chief Executive

The Acting Deputy Chief Executive is responsible for the People, Strategy and System Services Division which includes the following functions:

  • Analysis and Improvement
  • Business Technology
  • Communications and Engagement
  • COVID-19 Response
  • Human Resources, Wellbeing and Safety
  • Incident Management Unit
  • Organisational Development
  • Screening Unit
  • Strategic Reform Programs

Andrew Thompson, Chief Financial Officer, Finance and Business Services

Finance and Business Services provides financial services to the department, including budgeting, financial analysis, monitoring and reporting, management accounting, strategic financial advice and liaison with the Department of Treasury and Finance. It also monitors financial compliance, coordinates financial authorisations, and provides financial and accounting policy advice.

The division is also responsible for the department’s Procurement and Grants Unit and Infrastructure functions.

Joe Young, Executive Director, Disability Services

Disability Services is responsible for supporting people with a disability in community-based group homes and residents at the Northgate Aged Care Service and Highgate Park. The directorate is also responsible for the transfer of government disability services to the non-government sector and oversees services delivered through the Disability Transition Unit (formerly Disability SA - Community Services) and Domiciliary Equipment Service.

Nick Ashley, Executive Director, Disability and Inclusion

Disability and Inclusion has oversight of the implementation of activities associated with the Disability Inclusion Act 2018. This includes implementation of the first State Disability Inclusion Plan and progressing Disability Access and Inclusion Plans across government agencies. The directorate is also responsible for inter-government relations in disability, including ensuring that the NDIS continues to be refined to achieve the best outcomes for South Australians.

In addition, Nick Ashley is responsible for Concessions and Support Services which provides a range of concessions to eligible South Australians and delivers high quality and professional interpreting and translating services through the State Government Interpreting and Translating Centre.

Ann-Marie Hayes, Executive Director, Community and Family Services

Community and Family Services is responsible for the design, delivery and commissioning of family support and early intervention programs and strategies such as the cross-sector reform of the Child and Family Support System. The division works with children and families at risk of harm, neglect and family violence by intervening to disrupt the patterns of intergenerational trauma, and parenting support. Broad Parenting and Family Support programs inclusive of Parenting SA also operate from this division as does the Child Safe Environment program.

In addition, the division is responsible for Aboriginal services and the LGBTIQA+ community, grant programs such as Grants SA and SA Home and Community Care, food security and emergency relief, financial wellbeing and resilience services, community and neighbourhood development, Office for Problem Gambling, services to support young South Australians, support for people with exceptional needs and voluntary out of home care for children with disability, and supporting the volunteering strategy for South Australia.

Katherine Hawkins, Executive Director, Youth Justice Services

Youth Justice is responsible for the statutory supervision of young people in contact with the justice system. Responsibilities include the administration of the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre (formerly Adelaide Youth Training Centre - Kurlana Tapa), supervision of young people on community-based orders, and progressing the implementation of the Young People Connected, Communities Protected: South Australia’s Youth Justice State Plan 2020–2023.

Fiona Mort, Director, Office for Women

Priorities of the Office for Women include addressing violence against women by implementing the Government’s election commitments and actions under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, and supporting the advancement of women’s leadership and economic participation. The Office for Women also provides high quality statewide information and referral services through the Women’s Information Service and executive support to the Premier’s Council for Women.

Nancy Rogers, Director, Office of the Chief Executive

The Office of the Chief Executive is responsible for a range of functions including executive support, corporate governance, correspondence and briefings, Cabinet coordination, Parliamentary business, coordination of policy advice on inter-governmental and intra-governmental matters, risk management, business continuity and legal services.

Legislation administered by the agency

Carers Recognition Act 2005

Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016

Children’s Protection Law Reform (Transitional Arrangements and Related Amendments) Act 2017

Cost of Living Concessions Act 1986

Disability Inclusion Act 2018

Disability Services Act 1993

Julia Farr Services (Trusts) Act 2007

Not-for-Profit Sector Freedom to Advocate Act 2013

Supported Residential Facilities Act 1992

Volunteers Protection Act 2001

Youth Justice Administration Act 2016

The South Australian Housing Trust, trading as the SA Housing Authority, is responsible to the Minister for Human Services for the delivery of better housing opportunities for all South Australians.

Our organisational structure

Our organisational structure

DHS Organisational Structure. There is a link to a text description on this page.

This chart reflects the department’s organisational structure as at 30 June 2020.  View the current organisational chart.

Organisational chart in plain text

The agency's performance

The agency's performance

Performance at a glance

Highlights for the 2019–20 financial year include:

  • Delivery of special payments as part the Government stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
    • A once-off boost of $500 and bringing forward the 2020–21 Cost of Living Concession (COLC) for households in receipt of the Centrelink JobSeeker Payment. As at 30 June 2020, approximately 19,560 recipients had received payments totalling over $12.84 million.
    • A hardship payment of $500 for eligible international students, jointly administered by StudyAdelaide and ConcessionsSA. As at 30 June 2020, over 3,130 students had received payments totalling approximately $1.57 million.
  • Allocating an additional $1.6 million to support the food relief and emergency relief sector during the pandemic.
  • Allocating an additional $2.4 million in Commonwealth Government funding to fast-track new domestic violence initiatives in response to COVID-19.
  • Administering approximately $8.9 million in donations through the South Australian Bushfire Appeal. As at 30 June almost $6 million had been distributed through approximately 1,700 gift payments.
  • Allocating approximately $172 million in household and transport concessions.
  • Through the Screening Unit, receiving and finalising 237,523 screening applications (including 155,232 Working with Children Checks), with 63.8% of applications finalised in one week or less (151,495).
  • Completing 50,274 interpreting assignments and 1,407 translating assignments through the Interpreting and Translating Centre.
  • Distributing approximately $3.3 million in grant funding to 153 projects through Grants SA.
  • Distributing approximately $18.9 million in funding to service providers through the South Australian Home and Community Care (SA HACC) program for maintenance and support services for people with disability and their carers.
  • Recording 63,663 contacts with clients of the Women’s Information Service.

Agency contribution to whole-of-Government objectives

DHS contributed to the achievement of the South Australian Government’s objectives as follows.

Key objectiveAgency’s contribution
More jobs

Continued to influence and inform national discussions on NDIS market issues, including the development of a National Workforce Plan that will detail an agreed approach to workforce development to ensure the benefits of the NDIS are fully realised.

Participation in the State Government Aboriginal Traineeship Program, an initiative under the South Australian Government Aboriginal Affairs Action Plan 2019–2020 to connect a minimum of 100 Aboriginal people to two-year traineeships followed by ongoing employment.

Lower costs

Continued to administer a wide range of concessions and rebates that provide assistance to low income South Australians and delivered special payments introduced by the Government to ease cost of living pressures during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include:

  • a once-off boost of $500 and bringing forward the 2020-21 COLC for households in receipt of the Centrelink JobSeeker Payment
  • a hardship payment of $500 for eligible international students
  • a rent relief grant of up to $1,000 to support eligible residential landlords and their tenants.

Allocated an additional $1.6 million to support food security and emergency relief during the pandemic, including:

  • $500,000 for the food relief sector, with $200,000 to Foodbank and $300,000 to other food relief charities including Oz Harvest, Secondbite and Meals on Wheels SA
  • $800,000 funding for a number of charities to provide emergency relief to vulnerable South Australians.

Agreed a further extension (to 7 December 2020) of the South Australian Concessions Energy Discount Offer (SACEDO) — an ongoing energy offer available to South Australian energy concession customers.

Better Services

Progressed significant reforms to improve services across the department, including youth justice, child and family support services and disability accommodation.

Implemented a range of reforms to ConcessionsSA systems to benefit customers, including:

  • Customers can now choose to be notified by SMS as their preferred contact method for   concessions applications, providing applicants with faster status updates   than are possible by letter.
  • ConcessionsSA and RevenueSA now use secure data sharing in the administration of the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) remission. As a result, customers are no longer required to submit a copy of their ESL bill to receive the remission.
  • Integrating the process to identify and reissue failed concession payments into a purpose-built customer system, resulting in faster, more automated repayments.

The Interpreting and Translating Centre (ITC) has commenced online bookings and paperless financial processes and will transition to 100% online bookings, invoicing and payments by December 2020.

The Companion Card program is now managed within a purpose-built system, with better consistency and a quicker turnaround time for customer applications.

To support better eye health and customer choice, in May 2020 GlassesSA introduced:

  • free standard glasses for Aboriginal customers
  • $50 program contributions towards thinner lenses for customers meeting prescription criteria
  • $50 contributions for children to upgrade their frames, if desired
  • the option of lens and frame upgrades out of pocket for any eligible customer.

Agency-specific objectives and performance

Agency objectivesIndicatorsPerformance

Deliver prevention, early intervention and connected services to meet complex needs (1)

Consolidate child and family support services from across government within DHS.

Child and family support functions and staff from the Department for Education and Department for Child Protection were consolidated within DHS through machinery of government changes commencing 1 July 2019.

Deliver prevention, early intervention and connected services to meet complex needs (2)

Conduct co-design processes across South Australia to inform development of Child and Family Support System and service model.

During 2019–20, more than 600 people participated in a statewide co-design process that is guiding the implementation of the new Child and Family Support System (CFSS). The process was conducted in two stages from June to October 2019, with the results of the CFSS co-design published on the DHS website.

Close collaboration will continue throughout implementation and include:

  • a System Advisor Network of people with lived experience
  • an Aboriginal Leadership Group
  • regular meetings with the non-government sector
  • integration with Safer Family Services.

Deliver prevention, early intervention and connected services to meet complex needs (3)

Operationalise and monitor new models of child and family support.

New models of child and family support operationalised in the last 12 months include:

  • an Intensive Family Support pilot in the Northern suburbs
  • Aboriginal Family Support pilot in the Western suburbs, and
  • a ‘Breathing Space’ program targeted at young women established in the Northern suburbs.

The Parenting Resource Centre was engaged to evaluate the Intensive Family Support pilot programs.

Deliver prevention, early intervention and connected services to meet complex needs (4)

Young People Connected, Communities Protected State Plan is finalised.

On 11 June 2020, Young People Connected, Communities Protected: South Australia’s Youth Justice State Plan 2020–2023 was released. The Plan identifies 40 projects under six key themes, which set the strategic priorities for 2020 to 2023.

A Functional Review of Youth Justice operations across all business streams was undertaken to ensure the business model is positioned to achieve the objectives of the State Plan.

To reflect the renewed focus on improved outcomes for young people, the Adelaide Youth Training Centre has been formally renamed as the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre, meaning ‘new path’ in Kaurna language.

Deliver prevention, early intervention and connected services to meet complex needs (5)

Improved outcomes for Aboriginal children, young people and their family and communities.

DHS is continuing to progress initiatives under the South Australian Government Aboriginal Affairs Action Plan 2019–2020. All are on track.

The reform of the Child and Family Support System has a priority focus on Aboriginal families, including ring-fencing of funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

In 2019–20 the department significantly increased the number of Aboriginal staff in leadership roles. This included establishing a new role of Senior Manager, Aboriginal Practice and Partnerships to drive strategy and service design focused on building culturally led and responsive services.

Champion women’s progress, equality and safety (1)

Host an annual domestic and family violence roundtable.

The first annual Committed to Safety Roundtable for key stakeholders in the women’s and community sectors was held in Adelaide on 22 November 2019. An additional virtual Roundtable was held on 11 May 2020 to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 and provide information on new Commonwealth funding.

Champion women’s progress, equality and safety (2)

New domestic violence initiatives implemented in response to COVID-19.

The Office for Women allocated $2.4 million in additional Commonwealth Government funding to support at-risk South Australians during the current pandemic. This comprised:

  • $900,000 for the 24/7 Men’s Referral Service and local perpetrator support services
  • $1 million to domestic violence services across South Australia for brokerage packages for people experiencing abuse and violence to be used to pay for immediate support including transport, safety upgrades to property, financial   counselling and support for children
  • $250,000 for a targeted communications campaign
  • $250,000 to upskill the non-specialist workforce.

Champion women’s progress, equality and safety (3)

Launch a Women’s Economic and Leadership Strategy.

The Women’s Employment and Leadership Strategy was on track to be launched in March 2020, with the draft strategy informed by consultation with small businesses and women in business. In light of the  COVID-19 pandemic, this strategy has been reframed as the Women’s Leadership and Economic Security Strategy and will now be released closer to the end of 2020.

This reflects the serious financial impact likely to be felt by women as a result of restrictions in place during COVID-19 and the recognition that now is not the time to be proposing that small businesses take on additional change processes.

Champion women’s progress, equality and safety (4)

Extend Safety Hubs into regional South Australia.

The Haven opened in the Murray Bridge Community Centre in August 2019. The second Safety Hub opened in September 2019 at the Riverland Domestic Violence Service, through Centacare Catholic Family Services. The next hubs to open will be in Port Augusta, Gawler and Mount Barker.

Champion women’s progress, equality and safety (5)

Continue to trial a Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme.

In 2019–20, DHS collected data and information on the outcomes of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme trial. The State Government has committed to extend the trial in 2020–21

Champion women’s progress, equality and safety (6)

Implement actions under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

The South Australian Government has committed to 17 initiatives under the Fourth Action Plan which are all on track. These sit alongside, and complement, the work outlined in Committed to Safety: A framework to address domestic, family and sexual violence in South Australia.


Champion women’s progress, equality and safety (7)

Expand the Women’s Information Service (WIS) outreach volunteering program.

The WIS outreach volunteering program was expanded to include the O’Sullivan’s Beach Children’s Centre. Volunteers also staff The Haven in Murray Bridge.

Reform remaining state disability services following completion of the transition to the NDIS (1)

Decommission Disability Community Services in line with the move to the NDIS.

All DHS Disability Community Services offices have closed, with metropolitan offices closing by 15 March 2019 and country offices by 22 May 2020.

Reform remaining state disability services following completion of the transition to the NDIS (2)

Transfer clients to approved non-government NDIS service providers.

The closure of the DHS Disability Community Services offices occurred through the seamless transfer of all remaining clients to non-government providers of their choice. Participants in the metropolitan region were supported to transition by 30 December 2019, while country participants were supported to transition by 1 April 2020.

Older clients (over 65 years) with disability who are ineligible for the NDIS have transferred to the Commonwealth Continuity of Support program.

Reform remaining state disability services following completion of the transition to the NDIS (3)

Transition the commercial services of Domiciliary Equipment Service (DES) to the non-government sector.

A market process concluded in July 2019 without identifying a new provider for a single transfer option to the non-government sector. DHS has committed to transitioning the Readily Available Loan Equipment Service at DES to the non-government sector by December 2020, and to withdraw from other services, by transitioning clients to other providers in the market.

The tender for the DHS Equipment Program procurement acquisition for Readily Available Loan Equipment was released on 19 August 2020.

Reform remaining state disability services following completion of the transition to the NDIS (4)

Reform Accommodation Services to operate effectively in line with the NDIS.

DHS is continuing organisational reform to operate Accommodation Services in line with the NDIS, including registration with the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission.

A commercialisation plan has been developed to enable Accommodation Services to operate on a cost recovery basis under the NDIS, prior to the conclusion of the funding arrangement with the Commonwealth Government in June 2023.

Reform remaining state disability services following completion of the transition to the NDIS (5)

Eligible clients have an NDIS plan and access to information on service providers.

In 2019–20, Accommodation Services introduced new roles (including Service Coordinators and Capacity Building Officers) to support all eligible clients in the transition to the NDIS. These roles are pivotal in the dissemination of information regarding the NDIS and ensuring all eligible clients have an active NDIS plan.

Implement priority reforms for target groups (1)

Develop a State Disability Inclusion Plan.

South Australia’s first State Disability Inclusion Plan 2019–2023 (Inclusive SA) was published on 31 October 2019 and launched by the Premier on 1 November 2019. It is available on the Inclusive SA website in various accessible formats.

Implement priority reforms for target groups (2)

Promote and inform on the benefits of volunteering.

The Premier’s Award for Corporate Social Responsibility has been expanded to recognise employers who release employees for volunteer duties. The expanded Award was included in the 2020 State Volunteers Award program and will be offered on an annual basis.

With the Volunteer Partnership Board, DHS also commenced work on the development of the Second Volunteering Strategy (2021–2027).

Implement priority reforms for target groups (3)

Youth Action Plan is launched.

Strong Futures: SA Youth Action Plan (2020–2022) was launched on 17 April 2020 in SA Youth Week. The Plan will undergo an annual review cycle.

The four priority areas and Strong Futures Projects outlined in the Plan are adaptable to the COVID-19 pandemic context. A recovery lens has been applied to intended projects and adaptations made as needed.

Improve transactional services to put the customer first (1)

Changes to the Personal Alert Rebate Scheme (PARS) are implemented to ensure scheme sustainability and alignment with complementary programs.

Eligibility changes were introduced from 1 July 2019 to address an overlap between PARS and the responsibilities of the Commonwealth Government for aged care services.

From 1 October 2019, the maximum subsidy for annual monitoring costs was also reduced from $250 to $200 to ensure the financial sustainability of the Scheme.

Improve transactional services to put the customer first (2)

Recommendations from a review into the administration of the energy concession are implemented.

The review of the State Government energy concession identified that ConcessionsSA had already achieved considerable efficiencies and improvements that negated the need for expensive changes to the administration and structure of the concession.

Opportunities identified by the review to improve payment reconciliation and the switching of electricity retailers are being progressed.

Improve transactional services to put the customer first (3)

Working With Children Checks are implemented and work is undertaken to implement NDIS worker screening checks.

Working With Children Checks (WWCC) commenced in South Australia on 1 July 2019, replacing child-related employment screenings and assessments of National Police Certificates under the Children’s Protection Act 1993.

Implementation was supported by an extensive communication and education campaign to help individuals, industry and the wider community transition to the new requirements.

NDIS worker screening will commence on 1 February 2021. This is a nationally consistent and recognised screening regime for NDIS providers. Work has progressed on the development of regulations, information sharing and systems.

Corporate performance summary

The department’s corporate service areas enable business units to provide a high-level of service delivery and support employee development and wellbeing. The following is a summary of corporate service key achievements in 2019–20:

  • Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) was implemented to enable staff to work from home during COVID-19. WVD allows staff to access their normal working applications from home in a safe and secure environment. Staff have also embraced new technology while working remotely, including Microsoft Teams to meet virtually.
  • Teamgage was implemented across the department as part of our commitment to building a strong workplace culture where staff feel supported and heard. The online platform allows staff to provide regular feedback on their team in real-time.
  • On 30 September 2019, the department launched the Centre of Innovation. This provides staff with a one-stop location to self-serve information and data about workforce and business performance metrics. The digital dashboards provide consistent, transparent, and a trusted place of information for decision makers who can access the appropriate information anywhere at any time.
  • On 4 December 2020, the ‘Data Analytics Community’ was launched, providing a new way to collaborate for staff who collect, manage, report and analyse data.
  • A Senior Aboriginal Leadership Group was established comprising Aboriginal staff members in leadership positions across the department. The Group provides advice and guidance to ensure policies, projects and practices carefully consider any impacts on our Aboriginal clients and their communities.
  • The department’s first Disability Access and Inclusion Plan (DAIP) was drafted. The DAIP will set out the actions that the department will undertake over the next four years to improve the accessibility and inclusiveness of our services and supports for people with disability.
  • In November 2019, the department launched its Wellbeing and Safety Strategy 2019–2023 and the Mentally Healthy Workplace “Your Mental Health Matters” Strategy, which set the direction for wellbeing, safety and mental health in DHS.
  • To support accountable and efficient government, the Dead Red Tape (DRT) initiative commenced Round 2 projects targeting contract management and human resource processes.

Employment opportunity programs

Program namePerformance

Aboriginal Traineeship Program

The Aboriginal Traineeship Program is an initiative of the South Australian Government Aboriginal Affairs Action Plan 2019–2020. The department achieved the program’s allocation target of recruiting 11 Aboriginal trainees from January 2019 to June 2020.

As at 30 June 2019, six trainees had been recruited, with an additional five recruited as at 30 June 2020.

Skilling South Australia Initiative

Through the Skilling SA Public Sector Project - Pathway 2, DHS is hosting two School-Based Trainees through the Group Training Organisation, Maxima.

Agency performance management and development systems

Performance management and development systemPerformance

The department’s Performance Development Framework provides a clear, structured approach to workforce development by supporting managers and employees to establish and maintain effective Performance Development Plans (PDPs).

PDPs are to be formally discussed at least twice per year in annual and mid-cycle Performance Development Reviews. Reporting the completion of Performance Development Reviews on HR21 is mandatory to meet the department’s reporting requirements.

The percentage of employees with a Performance Development Review in the last 12 months has decreased from 83.6% in 2018–19 to 67.9% in 2019–20.

As at 30 June 2020, 42.6% of Performance Development Reviews were current, having been reviewed within the last six months. Of the remaining reviews, 25.5% had expired being over six months, 15.9% had expired being over 12 months and 16% were not recorded, of which 6.1% were new staff with less than 90 days of service.

Work health, safety and return to work programs

Program namePerformance

DHS Wellbeing and Safety Strategy 2019–2023

The DHS Wellbeing and Safety Strategy 2019–2023 is modelled on the Building Safety Excellence in the Public Sector (BSEPS) Strategy and is centred on four pillars of safety excellence: Safety Leadership, Wellbeing and Engagement, Risk Management and Performance Measurement.

The Strategy sets the strategic direction for wellbeing and safety in DHS. It demonstrates a commitment to our people by restoring and promoting wellbeing, and by preventing illness and injury no matter the cause. It provides a plan for continuous improvement of wellbeing and safety performance, measured through BSEPS targets.

DHS Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy “Your Mental Health Matters”

Your Mental Health Matters adopts an integrated approach to prevent harm, promote the positive and manage illness, to support our people to achieve operational excellence. The Strategy aligns with other national mental health initiatives, South Australian public sector standards and complements existing DHS priorities and continuous improvement processes.

The Strategy allows us to clearly articulate the conditions that enable our people to foster resilience, feel empowered, and thrive at work, in line with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment’s (OCPSE) Mentally Healthy Workplaces Framework.

In 2019–20, DHS received ‘Gold’ standard accreditation from Mental Health First Aid Australia as a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Skilled Workplace. The accreditation recognises the department’s investment in developing mental health first aid skills in our people and demonstrating a strong commitment to embedding the MHFA program into our department’s culture, through actions such as senior leadership support, relevant policies, development of a Mental Health Strategy and continuous improvement..

Risk Management

DHS maintains a responsive safety management system to reduce the likelihood of serious harm or injuries to its workforce. Performance Measure 3 of BSEPS is to reduce the overall number of new workplace injury claims for the public sector. The target is a 30% or more reduction in new claims by 2021–22 from a baseline of 365 claims.

During 2019–20, 210 claims were received which represents a 7.1% increase from the 196 claims received in 2018–19.

Early Intervention

DHS provides an integrated hazard and incident/injury reporting system that initiates alerts to key stakeholders.

BSEPS Objective 6 requires agencies to initiate a return to work as soon as possible, and is supported by Performance Measure 7 that requires 80% (or more) of all return to work assessments to be undertaken within two business days of a workplace manager/supervisor being notified of an injury.

The target for DHS is a static measure of 80%. As at 30 June 2020, the department remains compliant with 98% of all return to work assessments being undertaken within two business days.

Influenza Vaccination Program

The Influenza Vaccination Program is part of the DHS Health and Wellbeing Program and contributes to infection control strategies and the prevention of seasonal pandemic influenza. All staff are encouraged to participate in the program, which promotes a healthy workplace, reduces influenza-related absenteeism, increases productivity and engagement, and prevents flu spreading to other staff and clients.

Wellbeing During COVID-19 Webinars

THe department engaged Corporate Health Group (CHG), the DHS Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider, to conduct a series of webinars to provide additional support to staff during COVID-19. The 12-week program focussed on topics designed to support staff in dealing with change and anxiety, working in isolation, optimising immunity, mindfulness, working from home ergonomics, maintaining wellbeing during social isolation and the importance of nutrition and exercise.

Workplace injury claims2019–202018–19

% Change
(+ / -)

Total new workplace injury claims 210 196 +7.1%
Fatalities 0 0 0%
Seriously injured workers* 1 0 +100%
Significant injuries (where lost time exceeds a working week, expressed as frequency rate per 1,000 FTE)                32.2 26.9** +19.7%

* Number of claimants assessed during the reporting period as having a whole person impairment of 30% or more under the Return to Work Act 2014 (Part 2 Division 5)

** This is an increase from the figure of 24.64 reported in the 2018–19 annual report to reflect claims lodged after 30 June in relation to injuries in the previous financial year.

Work health and safety regulations2019–202018–19% Change
(+ / -)
Number of notifiable incidents (Work Health and Safety Act 2012, Part 3) 9 11 -18.2%
Number of provisional improvement, improvement and prohibition notices (Work Health and Safety Act 2012, Sections 90, 191 and 195) 0 0 0%
Return to work costs*2019–202018–19% Change
(+ / -)
Total gross workers compensation expenditure $8.81m $6.66m +32.3% **
Income support payments - gross            $2.94m $2.85m +3.2%

* Before third party recovery

** Injuries after July 2015 attract a payment for Economic and Non-Economic Loss, thereby increasing the lump sum payable. These entitlements are paid once the injury reaches maximum medical improvement and accounts for the lump sum payment value increase between 2018–19 and 2019–20.

Data for previous years is available at Data SA under Government reporting and policy.

Executive employment in the agency

Executive classificationNumber of executives
SAES1 21

The number of executives is based on the number as at 30 June 2020.

Data for previous years is available at Data SA under Government reporting and policy.

The Office of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment has a workforce information page that provides further information on the breakdown of executive gender, salary and tenure by agency.

Financial performance

Financial performance

Financial performance at a glance

The following is a brief summary of the overall financial position of the agency. The information is unaudited. Full audited financial statements for 2019–20 are attached to this report.

Statement of Comprehensive Income2019–20
Total Income 1,039,634 1,142,743 103,109 1,751,331
Total Expenses 1,062,115 1,086,080 23,965 1,790,583
Net result(22,481)56,66379,144(39,252)
Total Comprehensive Result(22,481)59,20781,688(39,252)

* Variation between 2019–20 Budget and 2019–20 Actual

The 2019–20 Actual total comprehensive result is a surplus of $59.207 million, which is $81.688 million favourable when compared with the 2019–20 Budget. This is primarily due to additional appropriation provided to the department during 2019–20 to manage timing differences between accrual recognition and cash flows.

Statement of Financial Position2019–20
Current assets 238,080 217,146 (20,934) 188,156
Non-current assets 154,386 169,165 14,779 170,873
Total assets392,466386,311(6,155)359,029
Current liabilities 165,929 82,663 (83,266) 111,100
Non-current liabilities 80,982 61,293 (19,689) 62,598
Total liabilities246,911143,956(102,955)173,698
Net assets145,555242,35596,800185,331

* Variation between 2019–20 Budget and 2019–20 Actual

The increase in net assets between the 2019–20 Budget and 2019–20 Actual result is mainly due to the decrease in current (short term) liabilities associated with accrued expenditure and decreases in non-current (longer term) liabilities relating to employee leave provisions.

Consultants disclosure

The following is a summary of external consultants that have been engaged by the agency, the nature of work undertaken, and the actual payments made for the work undertaken during the financial year.

Consultancies with a contract value below $10,000 each

ConsultanciesPurposeActual payment
Julia Farr Association (Purple Orange) Assist in developing the first State Disability Inclusion Plan, as required by the Disability Inclusion Act 2018. This is a continuation from the 2018–19 engagement. $7,150

Consultancies with a contract value above $10,000 each

Total all consultancies equals $543,085

ConsultanciesPurposeActual payment

Adelaide OHS Consultants

Delivery of an analysis and consider opportunities for health and safety improvements and initiatives.


Astrid Birgden

Consideration of the operational impacts of a consolidated model across the two Youth Justice campuses.


Dana Shen Consultancy

Develop the Child and Family Support System (A Co-design Approach) for children and family support system within the community. This is a continuation from the 2018–19 engagement.


Deloitte Financial Advisory Pty Ltd

Financial advisory services to review models for Accommodation Services.


Perception Services

To provide independent advice on policies and practices at the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre.



Review Screening Unit processes and systems to identify opportunities for simplification and automation.



To undertake a desktop review of the processes and accompanying documents required to administer the Cost of Living Concession (COLC) Boost payments for eligible recipients.


SNAICC - National Voice for our Children (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corp)

Undertake the Culturally Responsive and Trauma Informed Service Delivery Pilot Project to develop training programs for staff. This is a continuation from the 2018–19 engagement.


Think Human Pty Ltd

To facilitate community engagement regarding the future of the Home for Incurables Trust.


Exempt from Disclosure

Exempt from disclosure under Premier and Cabinet Circular 27.


Data for previous years is available at Data SA under Government reporting and policy.

See also the Consolidated Financial Report of the Department of Treasury and Finance for total value of consultancy contracts across the South Australian Public Sector.

Contractors disclosure

The following is a summary of external contractors that have been engaged by the agency, the nature of work undertaken, and the actual payments made for work undertaken during the financial year.

Contractors with a contract value below $10,000

ContractorsPurposeActual payment
All contractors below $10,000 each - combined Various $178,665

Contractors with a contract value above $10,000

The following table shows contractors greater than $10,000 (GST exclusive) reported under Note 4.1 Supplies and services - Contractors and agency staff of the DHS 2019–20 Controlled Financial Statements and under Supplies and services of the DHS 2019–20 Administered Financial Statements. This excludes transactions between government agencies and agency staff.

Total all contractors equals $2,146,274



Actual payment

Accru Harris Orchard

Facilitate procurement lean training and review


Aktis Performance Management

Facilitate HR consultation for the review and development of role descriptions for DHS Accommodation Services


Alister Morton, Physiotherapist

Provision of physiotherapy and training services


Australian Integrated Security P/L

Provision of security services and security devices


Bookabee Services Australia

Aboriginal Culture Awareness Training


Centre for Evidence and Implementation Ltd

Facilitation of Common Elements Workshop and information session held for Chief Executives of non-government organisations


Charles Darwin University

External evaluation on the Community Services Support Program


Child and Family Welfare Association

Facilitation of Family Matters Program to support Aboriginal families and communities


Community Consulting Australia

Engagement of services related to outsourced HR contract


Community Data Solutions

Community Business Intelligence Projects


Connley Walker

Facilitate the review of CCTV security systems


Creative Systems Pty Ltd

Supply and install office equipment


Crown Furniture

Furniture transport services


Deloitte Financial

Preliminary review of DHS Financial Model


Democracy Co Unit Trust Pty Ltd

Facilitate and liaise with Youth Panel members for the development of SA’s Youth Strategy


eBMS Pty Ltd

Configuration of eBMS platform to support procurement and contract management project


Flick Anticimex Pty Ltd

Provision of cleaning services


G88 Consulting

Facilitate advice on Accommodation Services quality compliance support


Glam Adelaide

Provision of social media campaign for SA Bushfire Appeal


Healthcare Australia P/L

Provision of occupational therapy services


Jtwo Solutions Pty Ltd

Assessment of cloudstep application


Julia Farr Association Inc

Facilitation of State Disability Inclusion Project plan


KB Facilitators

Assessment and report on staff injury and resident wound management project


Kerri Muller NRM

Supporting regional customers in the Financial Difficulty Project


KPMG Chartered Accountants

Professional Services for reviewing DHS Youth Justice site consolidation


Magill Demolition

Demolition of DHS Accommodation Services property


NEC Australia Pty Ltd

Hire of System Centre Configuration Manager Engineer


Objective Corporation Limited

Upgrade records management system to Objective 10.5


OZ Train P/L

Facilitation of Accommodation Services staff reference group meetings


Parenting Research Centre

Evaluation of Intensive Family Support programs



Facilitation of DHS pandemic plan communication and toolkit


Procurement Partners Pty Ltd

Facilitation of probity services to Community Support Services


Reach Your Potential Trust

Provision of review and advice on Lived Experience Project


Restorative Journeys

Facilitation of training on restorative practices


Sally Rhodes

Counselling services to clients


Sugarman Group International

Provision of occupational therapy services


T & T Electrical Services P/L

Supply and install new network outlet


The Flinders University of SA

Medical Device Technology Report


The Flinders University of SA

Evaluation of DHS Yunga Nungas project


Think Human Pty Ltd

Support to project worker engaged in Lived Experience project


Total Space Designs Pty Ltd

Provision of concept design for Youth Justice sites consolidation


University of SA

Provision of evaluation and report on Triple P and Child Wellbeing programs


Wellness & Lifestyles Australia

Provision of occupational therapy, podiatry and physiotherapy services


Data for previous years is available at Data SA under Government reporting and policy.

The details of South Australian Government-awarded contracts for goods, services, and works are displayed on the SA Tenders and Contracts website. View the agency list of contracts.

The website also provides details of across-government contracts.

Other information

Nil to report

Risk management

Risk management

Risk and audit at a glance

The Incident Management Unit (IMU) was established through the centralisation of various functions across the department and is responsible for undertaking all investigations relating to potential fraud, misconduct or maladministration. This ensures consistency and efficiency in the department’s response to incidents and potential fraud and has strengthened controls and investigatory capacity.

The IMU is also responsible for coordinating correspondence and final reports to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on investigations conducted by the department involving DHS staff and non-government organisations.

Internal Audit undertake audit activities that provide assurance over adequacy and effectiveness of controls and processes in place to manage departmental risks, and identify opportunities to strengthen control weaknesses and contribute to the delivery of DHS strategic objectives and services.

Internal Audit also considers the risk of fraud in their audit program. This includes assessment of the current control environment to ensure effective protection against fraud and maladministration as a standard objective for most audit reviews.

The DHS Risk Management and Audit Committee (RMAC) assists the Chief Executive in the identification of risks, determining priorities for action, developing and implementing strategies for effective risk management and in ensuring accountabilities are met. The Committee overseas the focus and work undertaken by Internal Audit.

RMAC members are appointed by the Chief Executive and include two members from within DHS and three external to the department. The RMAC Chair is an external member appointed by the Chief Executive.

Fraud detected in the agency

Category/nature of fraud detected/reportedNumber of instances
Incidents related to discrepancies in clients' funds 9
Incidents related to missing property 9
Poor/inappropriate practices relating to misuse of clients' belongings and funds 2

Note: All the reported instances of fraud relate to discrepancies in Disability client funds and/or property in Accommodation Services. The total value of these incidents is approximately $2,000.

Note: Fraud reported includes actual and reasonably suspected incidents of fraud.

Strategies implemented to control and prevent fraud

DHS has a zero tolerance to fraud and maladministration with all incidents of discrepancies in client records, funds and/or property to be recorded on the internal DHS recording system.

The 2020–22 DHS Internal Audit Plan includes specific audit reviews of the DHS ‘Fraud and Corruption Control Environment’ and ‘Fraud Controls within Concessions’. These are currently in progress.

During 2019–20, a Corruption and Fraud Prevention Committee was established to strengthen the department’s response to, and prevention of, fraud and corruption. The purpose of the committee is to monitor and oversee prevention control mechanisms across DHS.

A new program is under development on ‘DHS fundamentals’. This will be available to all staff and will include training on a broad range of legislative and governance matters.

Data for previous years is available at Data SA under Government reporting and policy.

Public interest disclosure

Number of occasions on which public interest information has been disclosed to a responsible officer of the agency under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018: 0.

Data for previous years is available at Data SA under Government reporting and policy.

Note: Disclosure of public interest information was previously reported under the Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993 and repealed by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2018 on 1 July 2019.

Reporting required under any other act or regulation

Reporting required under any other act or regulation

Julia Farr Services (Trusts) Act 2007

Act or RegulationRequirement
Julia Farr Services (Trusts) Act 2007 9 - Annual report

(1) The administrative unit of the Public Service that is primarily responsible for assisting a Minister in relation to the provision of disability services in the State must include in its annual report for each financial year a statement that sets out, insofar as is reasonably practicable, the following information, as at 30 March of the financial year to which the report relates, with respect to the persons who are residents of the Fullarton campus on 30 June 2007:
  1. the number of persons resident at the Fullarton campus;
  2. with respect to the persons resident at a place other than the Fullarton campus, a broad description of the nature of their accommodation;
  3. during the preceding period of 12 months -
    1. the processes used to plan and implement the relocation of any person to accommodation other than the Fullarton campus;
    2. the number of persons who returned to accommodation at the Fullarton campus, and the circumstances of their return.

(2) A report under subsection (1) should be prepared in a manner that does not identify a particular person.

As at 30 March 2020, only one person with disability was living at the Fullarton campus, now known as Highgate Park.

During the 12 months since 30 March 2019, 30 residents, their carers and family members worked with DHS staff to move to new housing arrangements of their choice. This includes:

  • one person who moved to non-government run community housing
  • two who chose to move to the Northgate Aged Care facility operated by the department, and
  • one person who moved to a new, purpose-built home that they own.

A further 24 people moved to community housing supported by the department.

Sadly, two residents passed away.

No previous residents returned to Highgate Park during the preceding 12 months and there were no new admissions.

On 6 April 2020, the final resident of Highgate Park moved to a private aged care facility, and shortly afterwards chose to move to the Northgate Aged Care facility. This was the finalisation of the Reconnecting to Community project, which assisted residents to transition to supported community living.

Water Industry Act 2012

Act or RegulationRequirement
Water Industry Act 2012 Part 10 - Miscellaneous

87 - Consumer Advocacy and Research Fund

(6) The administrative unit of the Public Service that is, under the Minister, responsible for the administration of this Act must, on or before 30 September in each year, present a report to that Minister on the operation of the Fund during the previous financial year.

(7) A report under subsection (6) may be incorporated into the annual report of the relevant administrative unit.

The department provides funding to projects through the auspices of the Consumer Advocacy and Research Fund (CARF) to support advocacy or research in relation to water usage that promotes the interests of consumers with disability, on low-income and/or in regional areas. CARF receives $250,000 (indexed) per annum, primarily from water retail licence fees.

Projects which received funding in 2019–20 included:

  • An investigation into SA Water’s 2020–24 Regulatory Proposal (conducted by Business SA) to ensure all aspects of operating and capital expenditure are justified against best practice interstate and accurately reflect South Australian consumer preferences.
  • A project making recommendations for improved pricing and tariff structures for SA Water (conducted by Uniting Communities) to ensure robust policy mechanisms exist which provide for the needs of the diverse range of water consumers in South Australia.
  • An analysis of SA Water’s proposed expenditure on water supply options (conducted by the Conservation Council SA) to examine and propose expenditure on water supply options contained within SA Water’s Draft Business Proposal and ESCOSA’s SA Water Draft Regulatory Determination, by specifically focusing on alternative supply options, with regard to considerations of short-term price benefits for consumer versus long-term water security.

Youth Justice Administration Act 2016

Act or RegulationRequirement
Youth Justice Administration Act 2016 9 - Chief Executive’s annual report

(1) The Chief Executive must, not later than 30 September in each year, submit to the Minister a report on -

  1. the operation of this Act and the work of the Department in relation to the administration of this Act for the financial year ending on the preceding 30 June; and
  2. any other matter as the Minister may direct.

(2) The Minister must, within 12 sitting days after receipt of a report under this section, cause a copy of the report to be laid before each House of Parliament.

On 11 June 2020, the Young People Connected, Communities Protected: South Australia’s Youth Justice State Plan 2020–2023 was released, which focuses on six shared values:

  • Young people’s wellbeing
  • Workforce stability and investment
  • Aboriginal cultural connection
  • Connected services
  • Reconnection with community, and
  • Business intelligence.

The State Plan has a strong focus on addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people in the youth justice system. Forty projects have been identified, which set the strategic priorities over the next three years.

During 2019–20, in response to recommendations by the Training Centre Visitor and Ombudsman SA, DHS progressed a number of improvements to support the provisions of the Youth Justice Administration Act 2016 including:

  • Since 6 December 2019, resident worn spit protection (RWSP) has not been used in the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre (formerly Adelaide Youth Training Centre - Kurlana Tapa) and DHS formally prohibited the use of RWSP from 1 July 2020. Staff are now trained in alternative techniques, including the use of personal protective equipment.
  • The department commissioned an independent review on the use of isolation, segregation and force, including advice on relevant policies and practices related to security and operational matters. The report was delivered to DHS on 31 May 2020 and the findings will inform further improvements.
  • On 6 April 2020, a trial of body-worn cameras commenced, to improve the safety of staff and residents.
  • Full-size body scanning technology was procured to reduce the need for partially clothed searches.
  • DHS appointed four Aboriginal people in leadership positions, two of those in Youth Justice Services.
  • DHS engaged children and young people and the community in the design and development of an Aboriginal cultural trail and cultural connection space at the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre.

All DHS staff in the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre have received psychological suitability assessment, in line with legislative requirements. Work continued to ensure non-DHS staff who have unsupervised contact with children and young people (except registered teachers and health practitioners) undertake a psychological suitability assessment by 22 October 2020.

In 2020–21, in alignment with recommendations of the Training Centre Visitor, DHS will report annually on the implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Justice Principle.

Reporting required under the Carers' Recognition Act 2005

Under Section 6 of the Carers Recognition Act 2005, the department is required to ensure all officers, staff and agents are aware and understand the principles of the Carers Charter, which promotes consultation with carers or their representatives in policy development, service planning and delivery. DHS must also consider carers who receive government services and carers who are employees.

The following information summarises actions undertaken by the department during 2019–20 to support compliance with Section 6:

  • employees were made aware of the requirements of the Act and Carers Charter during induction and training
  • flexible carer leave arrangements were available across the department
  • responsibilities under the Act and Carers Charter were raised at carers’ network meetings, across-government meetings and during community forums
  • the department continued to assist and liaise with other government departments that deliver services to carers or whose employees are carers
  • South Australian Home and Community Care (SA HACC) program funding continued to be provided to five statewide carer support organisations for a range of carer services.

In addition to the above, carers and service continuity have remained a priority of the department during the implementation of the Commonwealth Integrated Carer Support Service (ICSS). DHS also worked closely with the Carer Support Network SA during the roll-out of the NDIS, the Carer Gateway and establishment of the South Australian Regional Delivery Partners under the ICSS.

Carer service providers are currently funded through the SA HACC program until 31 January 2021, while a reform of HACC funding is undertaken, and a new community care program is developed. DHS recognises the economic value and immense contribution of unpaid carers in South Australia and the challenges they face and will ensure that carers have priority access to the new program.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, DHS established a dedicated COVID-19 Response Team to support the non-government sector, including carers and carer service providers. The Response Team has conducted online forums, provided information including regular newsletters, and followed up individual issues as required.

The department also formed a sector intelligence group and a peak bodies group to help address sector issues during COVID-19. Carers SA and carer advocates are represented on both groups which have been convened to hear concerns from the non-government sector so that DHS can work with SA Health and other agencies to develop solutions.

As the threat of COVID-19 continues, the department is focusing on strategies for long-term recovery and community resilience, given the enormous social and economic impacts of the pandemic. South Australian carers are being considered specifically within this thinking and planning.

Public complaints

Public complaints

Number of public complaints reported

Total number of public complaints reported: 52




Number of

Professional behaviour

Staff attitude

Failure to demonstrate values such as empathy, respect, fairness, courtesy, extra mile; cultural competency


Professional behaviour

Staff competency

Failure to action service request; poorly informed decisions; incorrect or incomplete service provided


Professional behaviour

Staff knowledge

Lack of service specific knowledge; incomplete or out-of-date knowledge



Communication quality

Inadequate, delayed or absent communication with customer




Customer’s confidentiality or privacy not respected; information shared incorrectly


Service delivery


System offline; inaccessible to customer; incorrect result/information provided; poor system design


Service delivery

Access to services

Service difficult to find; location poor; facilities/ environment poor standard; not accessible to customers with disabilities


Service delivery


Processing error; incorrect process used; delay in processing application; process not customer responsive



Policy application

Incorrect policy interpretation; incorrect policy applied; conflicting policy advice given



Policy content

Policy content difficult to understand; policy unreasonable or disadvantages customer


Service quality


Incorrect, incomplete, out dated or inadequate information; not fit for purpose


Service quality

Access to information

Information difficult to understand, hard to find or difficult to use; not plain English


Service quality


Lack of staff punctuality; excessive waiting times (outside of service standard); timelines not met


Service quality


Maintenance; personal or family safety; duty of care not shown; poor security service/ premises; poor cleanliness


Service quality

Service responsiveness

Service design doesn’t meet customer needs; poor service fit with customer expectations


No case to answer

No case to answer

Third party; customer misunderstanding; redirected to another agency; insufficient information to investigate


Source: DHS Client Feedback System

Note: Complaints data relies on complaint categories being entered into the Client Feedback System. This data was only recorded for 52 out of 211 complaints received for the period.

Additional MetricsTotal
Number of positive feedback comments 90
Number of negative feedback comments 211
Total number of feedback comments 301
% complaints resolved within policy timeframes 78% (165)

Data for previous years is available at Data SA under Government reporting and policy.

Data reported in 2018–19 has been amended following a review of previously reported public complaints data.

Service improvements resulting from complaints or consumer suggestions over 2019–20

Service improvements resulting from complaints or consumer suggestions over 2019–20

The following summarises service improvements implemented by the department during the past 12 months in response to complaints or consumer suggestions:

  • In response to recommendations of the Ombudsman SA, the department committed to ceasing the use of resident-worn spit protection (RWSP) by 30 June 2020. In accordance with this commitment, RWSP has been removed from the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre and removed from the list of approved mechanical restraints. The relevant Security Order has been revised, staff have been trained in adapted tactics and a General Manager’s Notice prohibiting the use of spit hoods has been issued to staff.
  • Feedback from clients influenced a significant organisational change within Accommodation Services. New roles were created to improve service coordination and quality and safeguarding in the service. New communication methods were also established with clients and their families and carers, with regular newsletters and family forums commencing, and a new vision launched for the services ‘Everything about you with you’.
  • As a result of COVID-19, many vulnerable people were unable to access their usual support networks when applying for assistance. ConcessionsSA introduced telephone applications for household concessions, with Customer Service Officers guiding people through the process and providing an instant outcome. A new online application form for Funeral AssistanceSA was also introduced as an alternative to the slower postal, fax and email applications.
  • In response to feedback from service providers, the submission process for annual performance reviews of contracted services was moved to the online portal used for service data reporting, streamlining the process for providers and reducing duplication.
  • The Interpreting and Translating Centre (ITC) has increased its capacity to deliver phone and video conferencing (with adjusted fees) and moved to electronic delivery of translation services. This mitigates client concerns about onsite and face-to-face interpreting during COVID-19.
  • Following the release of the report, An investigation into the experiences of Community Centre users in South Australia, a Community Placemaking grant was developed in partnership with Community Centres SA. The grant enables South Australian community centres to apply for a grant to help establish or improve infrastructure at centres, to ensure a more welcoming, friendly and safe environment.
  • Customer suggestions have been made to shorten time between grant funding application and notification. With the implementation of the COVID-19 Support Grant to respond to the needs of the community services sector during the pandemic, Grants SA initiated a more streamlined grants administration process, significantly reducing processing times and ensuring payment of grants was made as quickly as possible.
Page last updated : 12 Aug 2021

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