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Department of Human Services

Greater protection for people with an intellectual disability or cognitive impairment


People living with cognitive impairment will be better protected from sexual exploitation under new laws that come into effect today.

Attorney General John Rau said these laws were introduced as part of the state's Disability Justice Plan.

"These laws target people who abuse their position of trust, power or authority to obtain a sexual relationship from a person with a cognitive impairment," he said.

"These laws apply to anyone who provides a service to a person with a cognitive impairment, including both paid providers and volunteers."

The laws create two new offences:

  • to obtain sexual intercourse or indecent contact with a person with a cognitive impairment through undue influence; and
  • to behave in an indecent manner in the presence of a person with a cognitive impairment without consent or obtaining that consent by undue influence.

Spouses or domestic partners of the person with a cognitive impairment are not covered by the new laws.

"What we have tried to achieve is a balance between increased protections for people living with a cognitive impairment without restricting people's rights," Mr Rau said.

"We have undertaken much consultation to develop these laws and while there was strong support for reform in this area there were also concerns."

A cognitive impairment in the new laws is defined as:

  • an intellectual disability
  • a developmental disorder (including autistic spectrum disorders)
  • a neurological disorder
  • dementia
  • mental impairment
  • a brain injury.

The South Australia Disability Justice Plan 2014 – 2017 outlines a comprehensive range of measures to make the criminal justice system more accessible and responsive to the needs of people with a disability.

For more information about the new laws and the South Australia Disability Justice Plan visit

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Provided by:
SA Department for Human Services
Last Updated:
05 Jul 2018
Printed on:
14 Dec 2018
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