Department of Human Services

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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.

Page last updated : 12 Aug 2021

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