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Overview: about the agency
Our strategic focus
Making a difference so South Australia thrives.
Fairness, opportunity and choice for all South Australians.
- Collaboration and Engagement
- Honesty and Integrity
- Courage and Tenacity
Our functions, objectives and deliverables
The Department of Human Services (DHS) delivers strategies, programs and services that improve the wellbeing and safety of South Australians. Our focus is on delivering the right services to people who most need them, and this aim shapes the way in which we plan, design and deliver everything we do.
With people at the heart of what we do, the department’s strategic priorities are:
- Increasing inclusion, independence and shared decision-making for all.
- Supporting our communities when it matters most.
- Delivering modern services for our communities.
DHS has lead responsibility on behalf of the South Australian Government in the areas of:
- domestic and family violence
- early intervention to support children’s wellbeing
- safety and wellbeing of children
- screening services
- youth justice.
DHS delivers a broad range of services and supports to South Australians across all of these areas. The department also leads the development of policy to ensure these services are appropriate, modern and effective in meeting the needs of our clients and customers.
The department provides a wide range of grants to community organisations. It also has lead policy responsibility across a range of important social inclusion areas such as women, youth, LGBTIQA+, Aboriginal practices and partnerships and volunteers.
The biggest key to our success is our people, our dedicated staff and volunteers.
Our organisational structure
Changes to the agency
During 2021–22 there were the following changes to the agency’s structure and objectives as a result of internal reviews or machinery of government changes:
- The establishment of the Financial Reform directorate within Finance and Business Services, which is responsible for implementing strategies to successfully transition DHS Disability Services to the NDIS and identifying reform opportunities and delivering business improvements.
- The establishment of the Restrictive Practices Unit within Community Investment and Support, which is responsible for administering the South Australian Restrictive Practices Authorisation scheme that regulates restrictive practices in NDIS services in South Australia.
Hon Nat Cook MP, Minister for Human Services
Minister Cook has responsibility for advancing the inclusion of people with disability, early intervention and support services for children and families, the administration of concessions and rebates, financial resilience programs, provision of statutory youth justice services, screening services, and lead policy responsibility in relation to youth, volunteers and carers.
Hon Katrine Hildyard MP, Minister for Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
Minister Hildyard has lead responsibility across government and the community to implement strategies to prevent domestic, family and sexual violence. The Minister also oversees policy development to improve women’s economic equality and participation in South Australia.
Our Executive team
DHS Executive Leadership Team as at 30 June 2022.
Lois Boswell, Chief Executive
The Chief Executive is responsible for the day-to-day management of the department and the conduct of its employees. This includes responsibility for the overall leadership and strategic direction of the department, including its effective contribution to the achievement of whole-of-government objectives.
Ruth Ambler, Executive Director, Community Investment and Support
The Community Investment and Support division is responsible for the following functions to build stronger and more connected communities:
- Concessions and Support Services, which administers a range of concessions and rebates that provide assistance to low income South Australians, and is responsible for the operations of the DHS Interpreting and Translating Centre.
- Community and Social Investments, which delivers funding and programs that support the capacity and wellbeing of communities including Grants SA, Regional Partnerships, Problem Gambling, and Community Connections.
- DHS Screening Unit, which provides screening checks that help protect children and vulnerable adults.
The Restrictive Practices Unit also sits within Community Investment and Support, along with the department’s procurement functions.
Nick Ashley, Chief Financial Officer, Finance and Business Services
The Finance and Business Services division is responsible for budgeting, financial analysis, monitoring and reporting, management accounting, monitoring financial compliance, accounting policy and strategic financial advice. The division is also responsible for the department’s internal audit function and for providing a broad range of corporate support services including asset and building management, security services, fleet and transport management, mail services and records management.
During the past year the Financial Reform directorate was established within the division to support the commercialisation of DHS Disability Services to operate fully under the NDIS.
Sue-Ann Charlton, Executive Director, People and Performance
The People and Performance division provides a broad range of corporate support services to enable the department to deliver its services. The division is made up of:
- HR, Wellbeing and Safety, which has responsibility for our people and ensuring their safety and wellbeing are priorities and they are cared for in the most appropriate way.
- Organisational Development and Learning, which leads DHS in respect of our workforce strategy, training and development needs and improving the end-to-end employee experience.
- Communications and Engagement, which provides services and advice across a range of areas including media management, communications and promotions, digital communications and design, events, and sector and stakeholder engagement.
- Business Improvement and Technology, which provides information, systems and technology support across the department.
- Incident Management Unit, an independent function within the division, which is responsible for the efficient management of incidents involving DHS clients and staff members, including Critical Client Incidents.
Katherine Hawkins, Executive Director, Inclusion and Reform
Inclusion and Reform is the department’s central reform unit, bringing together policy and reform expertise from different directorates and functions within DHS, including the Early Intervention Research Directorate (EIRD), Aboriginal Practice and Partnerships, Social Inclusion and the Reform Hub.
The division is responsible for delivering policy and program reform in partnership with other divisions across the department. This includes the design and implementation of the state’s early intervention approach to children and families at risk of entering child protection. This division is also responsible for state oversight of Disability Access and Inclusion Plans as required under the Disability Inclusion Act 2018, and coordinating the department’s response to Closing the Gap. It is also responsible for strategies to support young South Australians and the LGBTIQA+ community, and for leading the implementation of the Volunteering Strategy for South Australia.
Alex Reid, Executive Director, Community and Family Services
The Community and Family Services division is comprised of:
- Communities and Justice, which is responsible for strategies and funding to support vulnerable people and communities, including people with exceptional needs and targeted Aboriginal populations. The directorate is also responsible for the statutory supervision of young people in contact with the justice system, including the management of the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre.
- Safer Family Services, which is responsible for providing early intervention and targeted intensive support services to children and families at risk of entering the statutory child protection system.
- The Office for Women, which supports the full and equal participation of women in all aspects of life in South Australia and has a strong focus on addressing domestic, family and sexual violence. The Office for Women also provides statewide information and referral services through the Women’s Information Service.
Joe Young, Executive Director, Disability Services
The Disability Services division is comprised of:
- DHS Disability Services, which provides supported independent living services to people with disability living in community-based group homes and the Northgate Aged Care Service.
- DHS Equipment Program, which funds and arranges equipment and home modifications for South Australians who are not eligible for these services through Commonwealth Government funding options.
Kelly Biggins, Office of the Chief Executive and Governance
The Office of the Chief Executive and Governance provides high quality and responsive support and advice to the Chief Executive and Ministerial Offices. It is responsible for a broad range of functions including corporate governance, Cabinet coordination and Parliamentary business, correspondence and briefings, strategic policy advice to the Chief Executive, Royal Commission responses, risk management and business continuity. The Director also has administrative reporting responsibility for staff in the Office of the Minister for Human Services and the Community Visitor’s Scheme.
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
Other related agencies (within the Minister’s area/s of responsibility)
The Human Services portfolio currently provides operational funding to support the disability Community Visitor Scheme (CVS). The CVS is an independent statutory scheme that reports to the Minister for Human Services.