What is the Vulnerable Adults Act?
The Vulnerable Adults Act (VAA) safeguards Vulnerable Adults (VA) from abuse, neglect, or self-neglect. The Act came into force on 19 December 2018.
The Vulnerable Adults Act is a key part of Singapore's adult protection framework, together with other laws like the Women's Charter, Mental Capacity Act, Protection from Harassment Act, and fire safety and public health laws.
The Family, Community, and the State each plays a complementary role in protecting the Vulnerable Adult. The Act supports the Family and Community to protect and care for the Vulnerable Adult, and the State steps in as a last resort when family and community intervention fails.
Who is a Vulnerable Adult in need of protection?
A Vulnerable Adult is any individual who meets all of the following criteria:
a. is 18 years of age or older;
b. has a mental or physical infirmity, disability or incapacity; and because of it
c. is unable to protect himself/herself from abuse, neglect or self-neglect.
Abuse can include physical, sexual, emotional/psychological abuse, including conduct that dominates and causes the Vulnerable Adult to fear for his/her safety or unreasonably deprives his/her liberty of movement/well-being.
Neglect occurs when a Vulnerable Adult does not receive essential care such as food, clothing, medical aid and other necessities of life resulting in personal injury, physical pain or injury to physical/mental health.
Self-neglect is the failure of the Vulnerable Adult to perform essential tasks of daily living, resulting in living in grossly unsanitary/hazardous conditions, suffering from malnutrition/dehydration, or suffering from an untreated illness/injury.
What should I do if I know of a Vulnerable Adult in need of protection?
Family members, neighbours, social service agencies and other members of the community can help to break the silence of abuse by reporting suspected abuse, neglect, and self-neglect. These whistle-blowers will be protected from civil and criminal liability. Such protection is given to anyone who has acted in good faith, including professionals, family members, neighbours and members of the public.
If you suspect that a Vulnerable Adult requires protection from abuse, neglect or self-neglect, you may go to the nearest Family Service Centre for help, alert any of the three Family Violence Specialist Centres, or make a report through the ComCare hotline. The contact details are provided below:
Care Corner Project StART
Blk 7A Commonwealth Avenue
Tel: 6476 1482
Blk 211 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3
Tel: 6555 0390
TRANS SAFE Centre
Blk 410 Bedok North Avenue 2
Tel: 6449 9088
Tel: 1800 222 0000
The contact details of the nearest centre can be found through the Family Service Centre Locator. Alternatively, you may call the ComCare hotline for the nearest centre's contact details.
In situations where there are immediate safety or danger concerns that require urgent Police assistance, the Police should be alerted.
What are the types of Protective Order(s) that can be applied for under the Vulnerable Adults Act?
The Act allows the Vulnerable Adult, the Family/Community (i.e. family member, donee/deputy and appointed social workers), and the State (i.e. Director of Social Welfare) to apply for various Court orders for the Vulnerable Adult's protection.
Specifically, the Vulnerable Adult and the Family/Community can apply for the following Court orders (collectively referred to as "Protective Orders"):
i. An order restraining the perpetrator from (further) abusing the Vulnerable Adult;
ii. An order prohibiting the perpetrator from entering the Vulnerable Adult's home (or parts of it);
iii. An order prohibiting the perpetrator from entering or remaining in a specified area frequented by the Vulnerable Adult for a specified period;
iv. An order prohibiting the perpetrator from communicating with or visiting the Vulnerable Adult.
These applications should be made with the Vulnerable Adult's consent, unless the Vulnerable Adult lacks the mental capacity to give consent.
In cases where the Vulnerable Adult is suspected/known to lack mental capacity to consent to the application, the Family/Community would need to include a mental capacity assessment form as part of the Court application. The mental capacity assessment can be provided by a registered medical practitioner, psychiatrist or psychologist.
For more information about applying for Protective Orders, please visit the Family Justice Courts’ website.
Click here for the Press release on the Vulnerable Adults Act issued by MSF.
Notice to Attend Court
Under Section 33 of the VAA, where it appears that any person has committed an offence under this Act, a notice may be served requiring the person to attend the court, at a time and date specified in the notice.
Click here to view a copy of the Notice to Attend Court (NTAC).