Department of Human Services

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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

Page last updated : 12 Aug 2021

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