Who is a Vulnerable Adult?

"A person who is 18 years of age or over, and who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness and who is or may be unable to take care of him/herself, or unable to protect him/herself against significant harm or serious exploitation."

    Factors of a Vulnerable Adult:

  • Is elderly and frail due to ill health, physical disability or cognitive impairment
  • Has a learning disability.
  • Have a physical disability and / or a sensory impairment.
  • Have mental health needs including dementia or a personality disorder.
  • Has a long-term illness / condition.
  • Misuses substances or alcohol.
  • Is unable to demonstrate the capacity to make a decision and is in need of care and support.

Habits Of Actively Vulnerable People

Emotional vulnerability is an exercise in openness.

This act, which is distinct from vulnerability as a result of circumstances out of one's control, can be truly empowering. It means showing the world who you are and trying something even if the outcome is uncertain. Experts say it can boost our careers and research shows it aids in making better emotional connections. And yet, many of us still find ways to live behind walls and avoid being vulnerable. We instinctively run from it out of fear of looking soft, according to Robert Stolorow, a psychoanalyst and author of the book Trauma and Human Existence. “It is pervasive in our culture to regard vulnerability as something shameful,” Stolorow told The Huffington Post. “It’s seen as an abhorrent weakness to be kept hidden and evaded, or counteracted through some form of reactive aggression.”This, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a good thing to open and be unashamed about it. And it's not too hard to crack the code of being emotionally vulnerable. Below are just a few ways vulnerable people live their lives differently than everyone else.

“Probably the most important characteristic [of vulnerable individuals] is openness to experiences in which outcomes cannot be known in advance,” Stolorow said.This could be as small as trying a random art class or asking someone on a date to bigger life choices like moving to a new city where they don’t know a single soul. And it turns out they may be happier for it: Research shows experiences ― more than material possessions ― can boost a person’s sense of happiness.

It’s valid to have anxiety about the unknown or have a fear of rejection (who wouldn’t when you’re about to ask someone out or ask for a raise?). But instead of running from that, vulnerable people put themselves out there in spite of it.

“Courageously facing life’s challenges does not mean being fearless; it means bearing vulnerability rather than fleeing from it,” Stolorow said.

This goes along with not running from their emotions. Vulnerable people acknowledge that life is full of ups and downs, and there’s nothing they can do to change that, Stolorow said.

“Because we are mortal beings, vulnerability to trauma is a necessary and universal feature of our human condition,” he explained. “Suffering, injury, illness, death, heartbreak, loss ― these are possibilities that define our existence and loom as constant threats.”

As pointed out above, being vulnerable can improve a partnership. But those who are vulnerable also thrive in bonds where the other person shares those same values.

“[Vulnerable people] seek relationships with people who are capable of dwelling with one in such feelings, rather than requiring one to ‘suck it up and get over them,’” Stolorow said. “Vulnerability can be better tolerated when it is shared rather than suffered in solitude.”

Open individuals have a way of putting themselves out there, Stolorow said. Even if it’s striking up a conversation with a stranger waiting in line for coffee.

Research suggests this might not be such a bad behaviour. A 2012 study found that making smiling at stranger's increases feelings of social connection (and thus, joy).

When you’re more open as a manager, you will ultimately create a better work environment, according to Emma Sepala, the science director at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research.

“Here’s what may happen if you embrace an authentic and vulnerable stance: Your staff will see you as a human being; they may feel closer to you; they may be prompted to share advice; and ― if you are attached to hierarchy ― you may find that your team begins to feel more horizontal,”

In a 2010 TED Talk on vulnerability, researcher and speaker Brené Brown explained how being vulnerable also means accepting all of your emotions. That means not shaming yourself for the ugly ones.

Brown also touched on another crucial point in her TED Talk: Vulnerability is at the center of all progress. It is “the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love,” she explained.

In other words, embracing vulnerability is to experience all aspects of life. Even if it means doing so without certainty or guarantees that something is going to work out.

“To be human is to be excruciatingly vulnerable,”

Working with Vulnerable Persons

The Department's policy is that Persons (including sub-contractors and volunteers) who are working with, or are in contact with, Vulnerable Persons are to be appropriately screened for that purpose.

    Vulnerable Persons for this purpose means:

  • a) a Child or Children; or
  • b) an individual aged 18 years and above who is or may be unable to take care of themselves, or is unable to protect themselves against harm or exploitation by reason of age, illness, trauma or disability, or any other reason.

Police and appropriate person check/Criminal Offences

Prior to engaging, deploying or redeploying any Person in relation to a grant activity or part of an activity involving Vulnerable Persons, grant recipients must not deploy, redeploy or engage any personnel to work on or in relation to any Activity involving Vulnerable Persons without:

  • (a) conducting a Police Check for that Person; and
  • (b) confirming that the Person is not prohibited under a law of the Commonwealth, State or Territory from being employed or engaged in any capacity where they may have contact with Vulnerable Persons; and
  • (c) complying with all other requirements of applicable laws of the Commonwealth, State or Territory, in which the Activity or part of the Activity is being conducted in relation to employment of Persons or engagement of Persons in any capacity where they may have contact with Vulnerable Persons; and
  • (d) being responsible for the cost of Police Checks and for providing verification to DSS that Police Checks have been conducted, if requested. When a Police Check is conducted it may reveal that a current or potential employee, sub-contractor or volunteer has a criminal conviction or findings of guilt recorded against their name. An assessment is made of the information provided in the Police Check.

Where a Police Check indicates that the Person has a Serious, Criminal or Court Record, the grant recipient must:

  • (a) Conduct and document a risk assessment in compliance with this policy and document the actions that will be undertaken as a result of conducting a risk assessment of that Person.
  • (b) agree that, whenever they become aware that a Person undertaking the Activity, or any part of the Activity, has been charged or convicted of any Serious or Other Offence, they will:
    • suspend the Person from performing the Activity or any part of the Activity;
    • conduct a [[risk assessment]] in compliance with this policy within 24 hours of becoming aware of that Person being charged or convicted; and
    • Document the actions they will take as a result of conducting the risk assessment of that Person, before allowing that Person to continue performing the Activity or any part of the Activity.
    • The grant recipient will be wholly responsible for conducting the risk assessment, assessing the outcome of the risk assessment and making any decision to engage, deploy or redeploy a Person, who has a Serious, Criminal or Court Record, to work on any Activity, or any part of an Activity.

Mandatory Requirements

Legislation governing protection of Vulnerable Persons varies according to the particular State or Territory in which the Grant Recipient operates so there is currently no overarching national approach.Grant Recipients must comply with relevant State or Territory legislation including laws governing child protection issues.Where Police Checks are not mandatory in a particular State or Territory, Grant Recipients must comply with this DSS Policy as notified, referred or made available in writing (including by reference to an internet site), in order to be eligible for Commonwealth Grants. Existing checking systems such as Blue Cards in Queensland are acceptable in lieu of standard police checks. This reduces the impost on organizations to undergo police checks if another similar check by appropriate authorities has already occurred.