Vulnerable persons are defined as a people aged under 18 or other individuals who may be unable to take care of themselves or are unable to protect themselves against harm or exploitation.

While all people must be protected from harm, there are additional legislative and ethical considerations for protecting vulnerable people. Vulnerable people can include:

  • children and seniors
  • people with impaired intellectual or physical functioning
  • people from a low socio-economic background
  • people who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders
  • people who are not native speakers of the local language
  • people with low levels of literacy or education
  • people subject to modern slavery, which involves human exploitation and control, such as forced labour, debt bondage, human trafficking, and child labour.

Vulnerability may be either temporary or ongoing. Vulnerable people are not limited to a charity’s beneficiaries or the users of its services. They can include a charity’s staff, volunteers, and people in third parties, such as partners.

Being able to recognise vulnerability in its various forms is important and the first step to being able to protect vulnerable people.