Department of Human Services

Start of main content.

The agency's performance

Performance at a glance

Achievements during the 2020–21 financial year include:

  • Allocating approximately $175 million in household and transport concessions to approximately 227,000 eligible South Australians.
  • Distributing approximately $1.8 million in COVID-19 Support Grants to 246 projects through Grants SA.
  • Through the Gamblers Rehabilitation Fund, approximately $5.69 million was allocated to 12 gambling help services in each State Government region and 16 targeted services.
  • Distributing an estimated $12.98 million through the Family and Community Development Fund to services which advance the welfare of children, youth and vulnerable South Australians.
  • Administering donations to those people affected by the Cudlee Creek and Kangaroo Island fires. While the SA Bushfire Appeal officially closed on 31 July 2020, funds were still received after this date. As at 30 June 2021, just over $9 million had been distributed through 2,979 gift payments.
  • Receiving and finalising 229,720 screening applications, with 70.9% of applications finalised by the Screening Unit in one week or less (162,876).
  • Completing 70,457 interpreting assignments and 1,207 translating assignments through the DHS Interpreting and Translating Centre.
  • Recording 35,549 contacts with clients of the Women’s Information Service (WIS), compared to 63,663 in 2019–20. This outcome reflects the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on the WIS shopfront and outreach centres.
  • Providing 879 free pairs of standard glasses to eligible Aboriginal customers. DHS partnered with Vision 2020 Australia to provide 350 free pairs from May 2020 and has now embedded this practice into the GlassesSA program.

Agency response to COVID-19

During 2020–21, the department continued to administer and deliver payments to support vulnerable South Australians whose income and employment prospects were significantly impacted by COVID-19. This included:

  • The once-off $500 cash boost and bringing forward the 2020–21 Cost of Living Concession (COLC) payable to eligible homeowners and tenants receiving Centrelink JobSeeker Payment. As at 30 June 2021, more than 7,400 households had received payments totalling $4.6 million in 2020–21.
  • The International Student Support Package provides $500 emergency cash grants to support international students impacted by coronavirus restrictions. In the past 12 months, over 4,200 payments were made to students totalling approximately $2.8 million.
  • SA COVID-19 Cluster Isolation Payment provides $300 to people who miss work due to a COVID-19 cluster or public health direction and do not have paid leave or income support. During 2020–21, 694 recipients received payments totalling $208,200.
  • Residential Rental Grant Scheme with two rounds of grants up to $1,000 (to landlords) for residential tenants on JobSeeker or JobKeeper in rental hardship. During 2020–21, 370 payments were made totalling $262,279.
  • The allocation of $4.1 million through the Vulnerable South Australians Support Package, which provided non-government organisations with additional funding for food relief, emergency relief and financial resilience and wellbeing to support vulnerable families and communities impacted by COVID-19.

In 2019–20, the Commonwealth Government provided additional funding to each state and territory through the National Partnership on COVID-19 Domestic and Family Violence Responses to address the impact of COVID-19 on domestic, family and sexual violence. Under the National Partnership, South Australia received $9.796 million over the 2019–20 and 2020–21 financial years in four rounds.

In the past 12 months the department allocated funding through Round 3 and 4 which included:

  • $1.75 million to implement the new Safe and Secure Housing program to support victim-survivors find appropriate housing
  • $1.5 million to introduce the Safe and Well Kids program to support children and young people who are experiencing domestic violence
  • a further $1.05 million for the continuation of perpetrator services and new perpetrator interventions for young men
  • a further $600,000 for Individual Safety and Support Packages
  • $325,000 to fast-track five additional regional Safety Hubs.

Through the DHS Interpreting and Translating Centre, the department also provided translation and interpreting services to support South Australian Government departments to communicate with, and deliver services to, non-English speaking people and families. This included:

  • providing telephone interpreting services to the COVID-19 Help Line, the Hotel Quarantine teams, and in the mental health sector, especially for those in quarantine
  • engaging highly skilled and experienced translators to translate critical public health information on COVID-19 symptoms, risk factors, testing and treatment and vaccinations
  • providing support to SA Health clinicians and hospital staff to communicate with non-English speaking patients with COVID-19 and their families
  • supporting SA Health to conduct phone interviews with people testing positive to COVID-19 and their close contacts, and supporting interstate contact tracing teams, including in Melbourne.

Through the DHS Screening Unit, the department assisted essential organisations and workers with screenings to enable replacement or temporary workers more quickly in areas of high risk and high need, particularly within the health sector and disability care.

Agency contribution to whole-of-Government objectives

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

Key objective

Agency’s contribution

More jobs

On 12 March 2021, the State Government announced a recruitment drive to hire 175 trainee disability support workers over two years to work in DHS Accommodation Services. The $9.5 million initiative is part of the Government’s 2020–21 State Budget commitment of $32.9 million over four years to support 750 additional traineeship and apprenticeship places in government agencies and funded projects. As at 30 June 2021, 39 trainee roles had been filled in Accommodation Services following an advertisement and recruitment process from March to mid-May 2021.

Lower costs

During 2020–21, DHS continued to administer a wide range of concessions and rebates that provide valuable assistance to households on low or fixed incomes who are experiencing cost-of-living pressures. These include:

  • Cost of Living Concession (COLC) payment made to low   income households in recognition of cost of living pressures. Households can direct   the concession towards their greatest need, whether that is electricity, gas,   water bills or council rates.
  • Energy concession, which is applied as a   reduction on the customer’s bill from their energy retailer. This arrangement   is administered under a service agreement between DHS and energy retailers.
  • Medical Heating and Cooling concession for South   Australians on a low income or pension who have a qualifying medical   condition, and who require the use of medical heating or cooling in their   home to prevent a severe exacerbation of their condition.
  • Water and Sewerage Concession Scheme, which provides   a concession that is calculated as up to 30% of a recipients’ total water   bill for a financial year (subject to minimum and maximum amounts) and a   maximum sewerage rate remission of $118.40 per annum.
  • Residential Parks Concessions Scheme, which provides   eligible residents of a residential park with a quarterly concession to   assist with their utility costs.
  • Emergency Services Levy (fixed property)   Remission, which provides eligible South Australian residents up to $46 per   year on the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) (fixed property) for their   principal place of residence.
  • Transport concession, which provide a 50%   reduction (approximately) on the price of Adelaide Metro tickets.
  • Emergency Electricity Payment Scheme, with up to $400   every three years for families experiencing financial crisis who cannot meet   their electricity debts. Payments are made directly to the customer’s energy   provider.
  • Funeral AssistanceSA, which provides a basic   dignified funeral, including associated costs, to those who have insufficient   assets to cover funeral costs.
  • GlassesSA, which provides low-cost prescription   glasses from participating optometrists and free contact lenses for specified   eye conditions.
  • Personal AlertSA, with rebates of up to $380 for the   purchase and installation of approved personal safety monitored devices and   up to $200 yearly for monitoring services.

During 2020–21, the DHS Screening Unit continued to provide free screening to volunteers, benefiting over 50,000 volunteers and saving volunteers and organisations over $2.9 million.

Better Services

Intensive Family Support Services

The recommissioned Intensive Family Support Services commenced on 31 March 2021, replacing the Targeted Intervention Service and Family Preservation Service. The new model is based on the most recent research regarding interventions that work for families whose children are at risk of entering the child protection system. Services include risk and safety planning, are trauma responsive and culturally safe.

A total of $52 million has been allocated over four years, with services being delivered across metropolitan Adelaide and the regions by Centacare Catholic Family Services, Centacare Catholic Country SA, Relationships Australia South Australia, Kornar Winmil Yunti, Uniting Country SA, Anglican Community Care and Aboriginal Family Support Services.

Community Connections Program

The SA HACC program permanently ceased on 30 April 2021 and was replaced by a new Community Connections program, which was developed following sector engagement. The new program has been established to support socially isolated people to increase their independence and to build strong, sustainable social and community connections.

The Community Connections program addresses a service gap for people who are not eligible for mainstream programs such as the NDIS, My Aged Care or National Carer Gateway, but who need extra support to build social networks and community connections to regain their independence. Key components of the new program commenced on 3 May 2021 following a tender process, with formal commencement beginning on 1 July 2021.

Personal AlertSA

During 2020–21, DHS completed a review of personal alert technology under the Personal Alert Systems Rebate Scheme, and rebranded the scheme to Personal AlertSA (PASA). Following a tender process, new suppliers and products have been available to PASA customers from 1 February 2021.

The scheme now offers a broader and more contemporary range of device styles with improved capabilities. All devices now have falls detection and 4G technology, with some also having GPS capabilities. The GPS devices, available in both a pendant and Smartwatch style, can increase people’s independence as users remain connected to their personal alert support when participating in the community.

Agency-specific objectives and performance

Agency Objective: Modernising Services

Services reflect the changing needs of South Australians with a focus on efficiency and sustainable outcomes.



Child and Family Safety Networks are implemented across South Australia.

The Child and Family Assessment Referral Networks (CFARNs) program provides local level coordination to parents and children with complex needs, as well as intensive case management support. There are currently four CFARNs in South Australia, with three operated by DHS and one by Relationships Australia.

During 2020–21, ten new statewide local coordination sites called Child and Family Safety Networks (CFSNs) were established to supplement CFARNs. The CFSNs facilitate local level resource sharing, service coordination and advice.

Implementation of the Social Impact Framework to better guide investment in community services.

A Social Impact Framework has been developed to provide consistent rigour in how DHS designs and commissions future programs to maximise impact, and to achieve balance in investment across different needs groups, geographical locations and service types. The department consulted with funded peak bodies and there was general support for the potential of the Framework to better inform DHS investment in programs and services.

The Social Impact Framework will be launched in early 2021–22.

Employment-related screenings and processes are streamlined.

The Screening Unit reviewed the types of screenings provided and explored opportunities to streamline and reduce costs for organisations and applicants. Consultation with around 60 government agencies and large to medium use organisations commenced in late November 2020.

Broader consultation was delayed due to the commencement of NDIS worker checks.

Commencement of capital works to consolidate contemporary youth custodial services at a single improved site.

In the 2020–21 State Budget, the Government committed $18.7 million over three years to consolidate the provision of youth custodial services into a single site at Goldsborough Road to provide young people in custody with access to better facilities and programs. An architect has been appointed to the project, with the Department for Infrastructure and Transport engaged as the project specialist with responsibility for managing project procurement processes.

During 2020–21, the department worked closely with key stakeholders to ensure the new infrastructure considers the needs of Aboriginal young people, young people with complex needs and both the physical and psychological influence of the environment. Following extensive consultation, the concept design was presented to staff and key stakeholders, including the Training Centre Visitor.

Digitisation of Family Safety Meetings is finalised to improve the collection and sharing of data.

The department worked with an external vendor to finalise the digitisation of Family Safety Meetings through the development of an online Family Safety Portal, which will improve the collection and sharing of data and support online meetings. The Office for Women developed the specific digitisation functions, policies and procedures which support digitisation, and worked with key stakeholders, including South Australia Police, to ensure the portal meets the business needs of all Family Safety Meeting members.

The testing stages of the Family Safety Portal identified the need for additional system enhancements to ensure that information is secure. This has resulted in a delay in the full rollout of the portal.

Independent Living Centre services are transitioned to new arrangements under the NDIS.

As funding previously supporting the work of the Independent Living Centre (ILC) was redirected to the NDIS as part of the State’s contribution, options were considered about how to continue to deliver ILC services into the future. In late 2018, market sounding was undertaken with the department calling for a Registration of Interest and Request for Information. This identified the Catalyst Foundation’s interest and capability to deliver ILC services.

In February 2021, the department accepted a proposal from Catalyst to continue operating some ILC services post 30 June 2021. On 1 July 2021 Catalyst commenced providing independent information and advice on equipment and technology, community education and attendance at expos, under the ILC banner.

Accommodation Services continues to be reformed to operate in line with the NDIS.

DHS Accommodation Services has continued to embed improvements in its service and work towards registration with the Quality and Safeguarding Commission to operate commercially.

Service improvements include:

  • establishment of a service agreement between   clients and Accommodation Services
  • consistent training and development for all staff
  • improved reporting through anonymous complaints   option for staff, clients and families
  • review of all restrictive practices in use and   working to ensure all appropriate documentation is completed.

An audit by external providers against NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission requirements was conducted in November 2020. Initial feedback from the external auditors was that Accommodation Services is on track for successful registration for three areas of the service in 2021. These areas are community nursing, transport and community participation.

Services provided by the Domiciliary Equipment Service are transitioned to the non-government sector.

As part of the State Government’s strategy to transition out of state disability services, DHS released a public tender in August 2020 for the supply of equipment to deliver services provided by the Domiciliary Equipment Service (DES). On 14 December 2020, DES closed with ALTER, a non-government supplier, commencing a contract to deliver refurbished and readily-available loan equipment services to DHS Equipment Program clients.

The DHS Equipment Program was established to fund South Australians who are otherwise ineligible for equipment and home modifications through Commonwealth Government funding options.

A new Aboriginal Language Interpreting Service is developed within the Interpreting and Translating Centre.

The department is working with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Aboriginal organisations and communities, TAFE SA, the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters, and other government and non-government service agencies to create a new Aboriginal Language Interpreting Service (ALIS) within the DHS Interpreting and Translating Centre. The ALIS is an initiative under the South Australian Government Aboriginal Affairs Action Plan 2021-2022 to address a significant shortage of trained and readily available Aboriginal language interpreters.

An ALIS Project Team commenced in the Interpreting and Translating Centre in May 2021, and is responsible for designing and implementing the new service. A phased roll out of the new service is scheduled to commence in late 2021.

Commencement of NDIS worker checks in South Australia.

NDIS worker checks commenced across all Australian states and territories on 1 February 2021, with the exception of the Northern Territory where they commenced on 1 July 2021. NDIS worker checks are:

  • valid for five years
  • portable across roles, organisations and   jurisdictions
  • subject to ongoing monitoring of national police   records and misconduct and disciplinary records of the NDIS Commission.

The introduction of NDIS worker checks represented an unprecedented achievement of the states, territories, and the Commonwealth coming together to agree on a nationally consistent screening policy designed to help NDIS providers keep people with disability safe from harm.

Agency Objective: Building Inclusion, Independence and Resilience

Accessible communities where all South Australians can participate, achieve their aspirations, and build resilience and independence.



Development and launch of the Second Volunteering Strategy for South Australia.

The department partnered in a four-stage development process to produce and launch the second Volunteering Strategy. The first two stages involved consultation and were undertaken during 2019–20. Stage three involved the development of the second Strategy document, integrating feedback from key stakeholders including an online consultation process hosted on YourSAy from 17 February to 26 March 2021.

Stage four was the public launch, with the Volunteering Strategy for South Australia 2021-2027 launched at the annual National Volunteer Week Parade on 17 May 2021.

Strategies in the Strong Futures: SA Youth Action Plan 2020–2022 continue to be implemented.

DHS provided funding to a range of programs and initiatives aligned to the priorities of the Youth Action Plan including:

  • Funding to the Youth Affairs Council of South Australia   (YACSA) ($414,774 in 2020–21), for sector support and advocacy as the peak   representative body for South Australian young people and the youth sector.
  • COVID-19 Recovery Grant to YACSA ($120,000 in   2020–21), to fund a dedicated 12-month Recovery Project Officer to support   the youth sector in meeting its recovery needs.
  • COVID-19 Recovery Grant to the Working Women’s   Centre ($120,000 in 2020–21), to fund a 12-month Youth Project Officer to   provide awareness raising and education to priority groups, undertake   research on the impact of COVID-19 on these groups and develop the centre’s recovery efforts.
  • $550,000 to the Local Government Association SA   for a program of one-off youth-led COVID-19 recovery grants. Launched on 17   August 2020, councils are implementing 14 youth-led recovery projects across   23 local government areas.
  • Funding to the Port Augusta Social Vision Program ($271,188 in 2020–21), which includes two components, the Port Augusta Youth Centre and the Salvation Army Youth Safe Transport Service, that support better outcomes for vulnerable and/or at-risk young people in Port Augusta.

Women’s Leadership and Economic Security Strategy is finalised.

The finalisation of the Women’s Leadership and Economic Security Strategy was delayed due to COVID-19, to ensure that it responded to changed circumstances and supported women’s economic wellbeing in recovery. On 5 March 2021, a Roundtable was held with a range of leaders from South Australian businesses including members of the Chiefs for Gender Equity, to discuss the key priorities that should inform the Strategy.

Key issues identified through the Roundtable were included in the Women’s Leadership and Economic Security Strategy 2021-2024, which was finalised and launched in August 2021.The Strategy targets three crucial areas of employment and entrepreneurship, leadership and recognition and financial wellbeing.

Actions continue to be progressed under Young People Connected, Communities Protected: South Australia’s Youth Justice State Plan 2020–2023.

Several actions under the Youth Justice State Plan have been realigned with new or ongoing projects. Of 14 actions due by 30 June 2021 (based on revised due dates), or considered ongoing business, nine have been completed and five are in progress.

Completed deliverables during 2020–21 include:

  • further development and marketing of the Youth   Justice Victims’ Register to empower victims of crime and consider their   voices in understanding the impacts of crime
  • investment in new technologies, including the   installation of body scanners at the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre to   reduce the need for partially clothed searches
  • implementation of an electronic logging system at Kurlana Tapa.

State authorities are supported to publish their Disability Access and Inclusion Plans.

The department supported State authorities by developing a guideline that outlines the requirements State authorities must meet when developing and consulting on the development of their Disability Access and Inclusion Plans (DAIPs). The guideline was made available on the Inclusive SA website along with other resources including a toolkit and DAIP template.

A community of practice forum was also established that enabled agencies to share information and learnings. Three virtual forums were held in mid-August 2020 covering the topics of consultation, data collection and preparation for publishing.

First annual report prepared on the operation of the State Disability Inclusion Plan.

The first annual report on the operation of the State Disability Inclusion Plan 2019–2023 (Inclusive SA) was tabled in both Houses of Parliament on 18 February 2021, as required under the Disability Inclusion Act 2018. DHS conducted cross-government consultation to prepare the annual report, which outlines the progress State authorities have made on the actions in Inclusive SA.

Of the 39 actions outlined in Inclusive SA, two have been completed (Action 3 and Action 20) and all others are ‘In progress’ with varying timeframes for implementation, as set by the responsible State authority.

Community consultation is undertaken to guide the development of options for the future of the Highgate Park site.

Think Human was engaged by the department to undertake community consultation on options for the future of the Highgate Park site and the Home for the Incurables Trust that owns it. Consultation was undertaken between July and October 2020, with more than 360 people involved in the consultation process. The consultation focussed on people with lived experience of disability from metropolitan Adelaide and regional South Australia, Aboriginal people living with disability, and subject matter experts working in the disability sector.

Highgate Park will now be sold with any proceeds used to promote greater community inclusion and benefit people living with disability. The full consultation report is available on the DHS website.

Agency Objective: Intervening Earlier

Vulnerable South Australians receive the right support early to reduce risk and build individual and community wellbeing.



Continue reform of the Child and Family Support System.

In the past year, the department continued to reform the Child and Family Support System to achieve the best outcomes for families and children. This includes the:

  • establishment of the Adult Supporting Kids (ASK)   website for families seeking information and support regarding child safety
  • establishment of a new pathways service to ensure   centralised referral management, service matching and enable future reporting   on outcomes for government and non-government delivered intensive family   services
  • development of a South Australian nuanced   Cultural and Trauma Responsiveness training package in conjunction with   SNAICC (Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care), to be   delivered by local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs)
  • commencement of a two-year pilot in Central and   Southern Adelaide of Breathing Space* (run by Centacare), a service targeting   young women whose children have been removed and placed in the child   protection system.

* Correction: The department’s 2019–20 annual report incorrectly reported on page 17 that a Breathing Space program was established in the Northern suburbs.

Safety Hubs are extended into regional South Australia.

As at 30 June 2021, six Safety Hubs have been established in regional South Australia to provide targeted information and referrals for women and their children to enable access to the local level support they require.

In the past year, the following four Safety Hubs have been delivered:

  • KWY Port Augusta Safety Hub, opened November 2020
  • The Haven at Gawler, opened December 2020
  • The Haven at Mount Barker, opened March 2021
  • The Haven at Mount Gambier, opened May 2021.

Safety Hubs were previously established at Murray Bridge (launched in August 2019) and Berri (launched in September 2019).

Early support and intervention services are established for perpetrators of domestic violence.

During 2019–20, the focus of the South Australian perpetrator response was the establishment of a telephone information and referral service to enable frontline workers and self-referring perpetrators of domestic and family violence to make early contact and be linked with specialist perpetrator responses. The new service is supported
with the allocation of $400,000 per annum, indexed from 2021–22, in the 2020–21 State Budget.

To establish the new statewide early intervention counselling service, providers were invited to respond to a Request for Tender between April and May 2021. Following a comprehensive evaluation process, No to Violence (NTV), a nationwide non-government organisation, was selected to deliver the Statewide Perpetrator Response from 1 July 2021. The procurement process assessed all tenderers against a range of evaluation criteria including the capacity to deliver, knowledge of and experience with the client group, community networks and communications.

Strategies to increase safeguards for people with disability are supported.

In response to the Safeguarding Task Force Supplementary Report, the State Government allocated $1.2 million over three years in the 2020–21 State Budget for the establishment of a new statewide advocacy service. Following a tender process, Uniting Communities was selected to provide the service which commenced in December 2020. The statewide individual advocacy service provides legal representation for people to challenge NDIS decisions, as well as educate and empower people with disability to advocate for themselves.

In addition to the new advocacy service, the role of the Disability Advocate, Dr David Caudrey, has been extended until 2023. This position has played a key role in collating evidence about how the transition to the NDIS has progressed in South Australia and capturing any unintended systemic gaps as a result of the disability reform process.

Therapeutic environment strengthened at the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre.

The therapeutic environment at the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre is being strengthened through the development of an Enhanced Support Team, which will pilot a model of therapeutic care and focus on intensive behaviour support planning and interventions for young people with complex needs, including those with a disability. The Enhanced Support Team comprises allied health professionals with disability expertise and commenced in August 2021.

The department also commenced the development of a Sensory Modulation Framework to provide children and young people with the knowledge and resources to help them understand their sensory processing needs and to develop self-regulation skills. The Framework will include a set of practical recommendations on how to modify environments to respond to the varied sensory processing needs of children and young people in custody.

Implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in South Australia.

During 2020–21, DHS provided feedback through the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) in regard to the implementation of a National Preventative Mechanism (NPM) for Youth Justice Services under the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

AGD is leading the implementation of OPCAT in South Australia, with each state and territory required to nominate a NPM as the independent monitor to undertake preventative visits to places of detention. The draft South Australian OPCAT Implementation Bill 2021 designates the Training Centre Visitor as the NPM in respect of children and young people detained in the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre.

Establishment of the Aboriginal Cultural Trail and Connection Space at Kurlana Tapa.

Aboriginal Elders, children and young people were engaged in the design and development of the Aboriginal Cultural Trail and Connection Space at Kurlana Tapa, which was officially opened on 23 February 2021. This initiative provides a unique space for Aboriginal children and young people in custody at the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre.

The cultural trail and connection space include a Restorative Connection Shelter, Desert Dance space, Ibis Theatre, a Kaurna Shield Shelter, Metal Coolamon, waterhole and fire pit, which will be used for a range of educational, cultural, language and recreational activities.

Acceleration of the Transition to Home program to enable discharge-ready people with disability to move from hospital to community accommodation.

The Transition to Home (T2H) step down program was implemented in March 2020, as part of South Australia’s existing Long Stay Transition to Discharge Project. The T2H program facilitates the timely discharge of people with disability from hospital into the community.

In the past year, DHS continued working with the Department of Health and Wellbeing, Local Hospital Networks and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to accelerate the T2H program to enable discharge-ready people with disability move to community accommodation. The program increased from 20 to 24 beds, three service coordinators were appointed, and clients were provided with capacity building.

Corporate performance summary

The following is a summary of the key corporate service achievements in 2020–21:

  • DHS achieved reaccreditation as a White Ribbon Workplace for the next three years, reaffirming our commitment to combating gendered-based violence, challenging disrespectful behaviours and fostering greater inclusivity and equality for all women. To achieve reaccreditation, the department successfully met 15 criteria under three standards to create a safer and more respectful workplace.
  • In October 2020, the department released its first Disability Access and Inclusion Plan, which supports Inclusive SA, the State Disability Inclusion Plan 2019–2023. Developed following extensive consultation with staff and the community, the DHS Disability Access and Inclusion Plan 2019–2024 outlines the actions the department will progress over the next four years to improve the accessibility and inclusiveness of our services and supports for people with disability.
  • The Aboriginal Recruitment Guide was launched in October 2020, which supports managers to undertake culturally inclusive recruitment and provides advice on the avenues that are available to assist in the recruitment of Aboriginal people.
  • On 17 March 2021, the Screening Unit connected to the Working with Children Check (WWCC) National Reference System (NRS), which enables the exchange of information about negative WWCC decisions across Australia. Integration to the WWCC NRS represents the ongoing commitment of the Government to continually improve the WWCC scheme and information sharing capabilities to contribute to the protection of children across Australia.
  • The DHS Aboriginal Workforce Strategy 2021–2023 was officially launched on 28 May 2021. The Strategy outlines the department’s commitment to action through four key focus areas with specific actions that will support DHS to be a department of first choice for Aboriginal people.
  • The department’s Australian Service Excellence Team maintained the Australian Service Excellence Standard’s (ASES) international accreditation rating with the International Society for Quality in Health Care External Evaluation Association (IEEA). ASES is owned by DHS and designed with the non-government community service organisations to improve management practices, business systems and service delivery.

Employment opportunity programs

Skilling SA Public Sector Project

Five trainees under 30 years of age were employed by the department under this initiative, which is being led by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment (OCPSE).

Three Aboriginal trainees, including two of the five aforementioned trainees, were hosted in the department through a Group Training Organisation.

Aboriginal Workforce Employment Initiatives

During 2020–21, 22 Aboriginal people were employed by the department, with three appointed to identified Aboriginal employment positions. There were a further eight appointments from the OCPSE Aboriginal Employment Register.

Disability Support Traineeships

A total of 39 trainee disability support workers, out of a goal of 175 over two years, were employed by the department and appointed to positions within Accommodation Services.

Agency performance management and development systems

Performance management and development system

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 increased from 67.9% in 2019–20 to 73.9% in 2020–21.

As at 30 June 2021, 58.4% of Performance Development Reviews were current, having been reviewed within the last six months.

Of the remaining reviews:

  • 15.5% had expired being over six months
  • 14.7% had expired being over 12 months
  • 6.8% were not recorded for staff with at least 90 days of service
  • 4.6% were not recorded for staff with less than 90 days of service.

Work health, safety and return to work programs

Program name


Work Health & Safety and Injury Management Audit and Verification

In the past year, the department participated in a verification audit of its Work Health and Safety (WHS) and Injury Management (IM) system. The WHS and IM systems are conforming with legislative requirements, with some areas identified for improvement.

The WHS Verified Self-Assessment (VSA) audit, conducted by Deloitte, is an element of the broader Audit and Verification Systems (AVS) program managed by OCPSE. The VSA provides the participating agency with an independently verified assessment of its Safety Management System and a view on the implementation of that system at a series of selected worksites.

The IM audit, conducted by ReturnToWorkSA, is designed to protect the integrity and fairness of the scheme through worksite inspections, audits and evaluation against legislation, regulations and service standards.

Safety Management System

A review of the Safety Management System (SMS) was undertaken which identified various gaps and determined that it was antiquated in its approach. A fully revised SMS was developed that is contemporary, considers the altered risk profile of our department and provides clear line of site to Building Safety Excellence in the Public Sector, and reflects internal policy, objectives and risks.

The new SMS has been approved and implemented.

Mental Health First Aid Skilled Workplace

The department has maintained the ‘Gold’ standard accreditation as a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Skilled Workplace for our investment in developing mental health first aid skills in our people. The department has also demonstrated a strong commitment to embedding the MHFA program into our culture through senior leadership support, relevant policies, development of a Mental Health Strategy and continuous improvement.

Influenza Vaccination Program

The DHS Influenza Vaccination Program is part of the department’s health and wellbeing initiative, contributing to infection control strategies and the prevention of seasonal pandemic influenza. All staff are encouraged to participate in the voluntary program. The program promotes a healthy workplace, reduces influenza-related absenteeism, increases productivity and engagement, and prevents flu spreading to other staff and clients.

Wellbeing and Safety Webinar Series

In conjunction with Corporate Health Group, the department’s Employee Assistance Provider (EAP), a new series of webinars were developed to provide employees and managers with tools, knowledge and support to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

The webinar topics are:

  • Employee Wellbeing Check
  • Resilience at Work
  • Change (accepting a new landscape)
  • Fatigue/Sleep Hygiene
  • Emerging Mental Health Issues.

Corporate Health Group also facilitated a webinar for staff with family and friends in India. The 45 minute online session provided an avenue for staff to share their experiences and concerns and discuss support services available for staff and their family.


In August 2020, the department transitioned to MySAFETY, the State Government’s new work health and safety system.

Staff use MySAFETY to report the following as they occur:

  • workplace hazards
  • workplace incidents, with or without injury
  • client incidents
  • feedback - complaints, compliments and   suggestions
  • bullying concerns.


Teamgage was implemented across the department in
2019–20 as part of our commitment to building a strong workplace culture where staff feel supported and heard. The online platform builds employee engagement by regularly collecting workplace feedback.

In May 2021, a question was included seeking staff feedback on wellbeing and safety. This enables the DHS Wellbeing and Safety Unit and divisions to monitor and address identified concerns and potential risks.

Workplace injury claims

Workplace injury claims



% Change
(+ / -)

Total new workplace injury claims








Seriously injured workers [Note 1]




Significant injuries (where lost time exceeds a working week, expressed as frequency rate per 1,000 FTE)




The information in the Workplace injury claims table in regard to the total number of new workplace injury claims and frequency rate per 1,000 FTE is reflective of the total number of claims received. Of the 197 claims received in 2020–21, only 147 were accepted as compensable. The Building Safety Excellence in the Public Sector targets are based on ‘accepted’ claims only.

Note 1: 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).

Work health and safety regulations

Work health and safety regulations



% Change
(+ / -)

Number of notifiable incidents (Work Health and Safety Act 2012, Part 3)




Number of provisional improvement, improvement and prohibition notices (Work Health and Safety Act 2012 Sections 90, 191 and 195)




Return to work costs

Return to work costs [Note 2]



% Change
(+ / -)

Total gross workers compensation expenditure




Income support payments - gross [Note 3]




Note 2: Before third party recovery

Note 3: The increase in income support payments is attributable to the increases in the average payment, number of days lost and rate of significant injury.

Data for previous years is available at: Data.SA - DHS Annual Report - Annual report data

Executive employment in the agency

Executive classification

Number of executives







The number of executives is based on the number as at 30 June 2021.

Data for previous years is available at: Data.SA - DHS Annual Report - Annual report data

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 : 16 Dec 2021

This site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence. © Copyright 2021 DHS .[sm v5.5.6.6]