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Department of Human Services

Exceptional Needs Unit

The Exceptional Needs Unit (ENU) supports people with exceptional needs. The unit provides two services and one program. More than one service might be needed to help you.

ENU supports people who haven't been able to get what they need from other services.

What do we mean by exceptional needs?

Exceptional needs cannot be described in a single sentence, or in the same way for everyone who has exceptional needs.

People with exceptional needs generally have many needs and require support from more than one service — often from many services. The services with which they are involved sometimes find it impossible to provide the type or amount of support that the person needs.

A person with exceptional needs will usually be identified in one or more ways because they:

  • behave in ways that are very difficult to manage, and that threaten their own or others' safety
  • have a mental health diagnosis that is difficult to manage with medication alone and affects their ability to live without daily living support
  • have a diagnosed intellectual disability, or an acquired brain injury that is the result of lifestyle including chronic drug or alcohol abuse, physical assaults or accidents
  • have experience of early trauma including family violence, family breakdown and abuse (sexual, emotional, physical)
  • experience extremely poor and complex health problems
  • have a history of homelessness and have been involved with the criminal justice system, including youth detention and prison.

Eligibility for ENU support

Each referral to the Exceptional Needs Unit is assessed by a senior practitioner, and eligibility for services is decided by an Intake Committee of senior officers.

Eligibility for an Exceptional Needs Unit service cannot be described simply by a single set of statements or by a single set of circumstances or conditions. Each person's  'eligibility' is based on interconnected factors, just as 'exceptional needs' must be decided on an individual basis, looking at all of a person's issues and circumstances together.

Exceptional needs support

We have programs to help people get the support they require to live independently.

Management Assessment Service (MAS) (for service providers)

Homelessness Support Program (HSP) (for service providers)

How to apply

Contact the ENU office for information and/or assistance. A duty officer will respond to your request.

A referral pack may be forwarded to you to get detailed information that forms the basis of an assessment and subsequent recommendation to the ENU Intake Committee.

If life is in danger, phone 000 (triple zero) or contact one of South Australia's emergency services.


Phone: +61 8 8448 4610
Fax: +61 8 8448 4601 

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Provided by:
SA Department for Human Services
Last Updated:
05 Jul 2018
Printed on:
19 Jan 2020
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