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- The Hon Katrine Hildyard
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From the Chief Executive
In accordance with the Public Sector Act 2019, I am pleased to present the annual report for the South Australian Department of Human Services (DHS) for the year ended 30 June 2021. The annual report provides a snapshot of the achievements and operations of DHS, including the financial performance of the department, in the 2020–21 financial year.
The past 12 months was another challenging, yet rewarding year as we continued to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and implement service reform across the department.
The South Australian Government has continued to provide additional financial and emergency assistance to families and non-government organisations adversely impacted by the pandemic.
In the past year, we have been responsible for the administration of a range of measures including the once-off boost payment of $500 and bringing forward the 2020–21 Cost of Living Concession payment, the International Student Support Package, the Residential Rental Grant Scheme, and the South Australian COVID-19 Cluster Isolation Payment.
We have also allocated the final funding committed to South Australia under the National Partnership on COVID-19 Domestic and Family Violence Responses to address the impact of COVID-19 on domestic, family and sexual violence.
Since March 2021, we have been working closely with SA Health on the COVID-19 vaccination rollout to disability clients and staff. Disability care residents and disability care support workers were amongst the first prioritised groups to receive the vaccine. Specific sites were established to ensure vaccines could be administered to people with a disability and their support staff in a safe place, including at the Northgate Aged Care Service and Highgate Park. Appropriate arrangements were also put in place for regional sites.
A focus for the department over the past year has been the development and introduction of a legislative framework to provide stronger safeguards for the use of unauthorised restrictive practices by NDIS service providers. In May 2021, both Houses of Parliament passed the Disability Inclusion (Restrictive Practices - NDIS) Amendment Bill 2021, which will amend the Disability Inclusion Act 2018 and ensure that South Australia is compliant with the National Principles for restrictive practice authorisation.
The amendments will be supported by regulations and guidelines that provide additional clarity and detail about the interpretation and implementation of the legislative requirements. The authorisation scheme will commence from 2022.
To strengthen safeguards for disability clients, we also undertook a three-month CCTV pilot in two southern suburbs supported accommodation homes. Commencing in April 2021, the pilot investigated the effectiveness of CCTV as an additional safeguarding measure, while maintaining the privacy and dignity of the residents in their own home.
The pilot was assessed by surveying families, guardians and staff and reviewing incidents reported during the three month trial period. Based on the success and feedback of the initial pilot, we will now trial the use of CCTV cameras in at least five further homes.
We have continued to reform the Child and Family Support System, which supports the most vulnerable families with early intervention services to help keep children safe at home. This includes launching the new Intensive Family Support Services on 31 March 2021, to replace the former Targeted Intervention Service and Family Preservation Service. Delivered by seven non-government organisations, the new services have a focus on targeting families with the right support at the right time and measuring their outcomes.
Following a review of the South Australian Home and Community Care (SA HACC) program, a more contemporary program was developed that better reflects the current environment and community needs. Key components of the new Community Connections program started on 3 May 2021, with the program designed to support socially isolated people whose independence and quality of life is at risk and who are unable to benefit from alternate services such as the NDIS, Mental Health and My Aged Care.
We have also established a further four Safety Hubs to provide a single-entry point for integrated services in regional South Australia. The Hubs are a safe local place where women can speak confidentially to trained workers or volunteers, who can provide information, support, and referrals to appropriate services.
Other highlights of the past 12 months include:
- establishing a new Statewide Perpetrator Response service to bolster early intervention services for South Australians at-risk of committing domestic violence
- finalising a review of personal alert technology available under the Personal Alert Systems Rebate Scheme, now known as Personal AlertSA
- launching the new Volunteering Strategy for South Australia 2021–2027, which builds on the foundation created by the state’s previous strategy
- transitioning Domiciliary Equipment Service and the Independent Living Centre to new arrangements under the NDIS
- NDIS worker checks commencing on 1 February 2021
- releasing the inaugural report on the operation of the State Disability Inclusion Plan, which provides and update on progress made against the actions in Inclusive SA.
In closing, I would like to thank all DHS staff for their dedication and commitment during another demanding and challenging year.
Department of Human Services