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Singapore Government

Adult Protection

Adult Protection

The Vulnerable Adults Act (VAA) came into force on 19 December 2018, and is a key part of Singapore’s adult protection framework. The family, community and the state play complementary roles in protecting the vulnerable adult. The VAA supports the family to protect and care for the vulnerable adult, and MSF’s Adult Protective Service (APS) steps in as a last resort when family and community intervention fails.

Under the VAA, a vulnerable adult is any individual who meets all the following criteria:
i. is 18 years of age or older;
ii. has mental or physical infirmity, disability or incapacity; and because of it
iii. is unable to protect himself/herself from abuse, neglect or self-neglect.

Vulnerable Adult Investigations by MSF APS

  2016 2017 2018 2019
Vulnerable Adult Investigation Cases 107 127 199 209


Vulnerable Adult Investigations by MSF APS, by Age of Victims

Age 2016 2017 2018 2019
18 to 64 years 52 50 73 82
65 years and above 55 77 126 127
Total 107 127 199 209



Abuse can include physical, sexual, emotional/psychological abuse, including conduct that dominates the vulnerable adult and causes him/her to fear for safety or unreasonably deprives him/her of 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 the physical or mental health of the vulnerable adult.

Self-neglect is the failure of the vulnerable adult to perform essential tasks of daily living, resulting in him/her living in grossly unsanitary or hazardous conditions, suffering from malnutrition/dehydration, or suffering from an untreated illness/injury.

Vulnerable Adult Investigations by MSF APS, by Type of Abuse*

Type of Abuse 2016 2017 2018 2019
Physical Abuse 39 38 73 90
Sexual Abuse 11 6 9 8
Emotional & Psychological Abuse 14 23 28 37
Neglect 40 42 71 65
Self-Neglect 18 19 29 39

*Each case may present woth more than one type of abuse


Source: Ministry of Social and Family Development

Updated on 16 April 2020

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