Victorian social services framework- what’s changing? 

Currently, Victorian social service providers are required to comply with multiple different sets of regulations depending on the services they offer. Ensuring compliance with overlapping registration, reporting and regulatory requirements overburdens these organisations, in some cases requiring duplicate reporting or conflicting requirements between different frameworks.

In order to streamline the various social services frameworks, the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing recently released a Consultation Draft of the Social Services Regulations 2023. They are designed to provide a single cohesive regulatory framework for all registered social service providers in Victoria. The new framework aims to both increase efficiency of the social service system by simplifying registration and reporting requirements for providers, and improve the safety of Victorian consumers who engage with the social service system. 

When is the new Victorian social services framework coming into effect?

Following the conclusion of the consultation period on July 16 2023, the final version of the regulations is expected to be published in late 2023, with the scheme commencing on July 1 2024.

Who will it apply to?

There are approximately 700 providers operating in Victoria that will be covered by the scheme, including providers of: 

  • child protection services and secure welfare services delivered by the department; 
  • community-based child and family services,  
  • out of-home care services for children and young people;  
  • disability support services; 
  • family violence services, including services for perpetrators;  
  • sexual assault services; 
  • homelessness services; and 
  • supported residential services. 

What are the main features of the new framework?

As a comprehensive scheme, the framework will encompass multiple stages of regulatory compliance, from establishing the requirements for providers, to monitoring compliance. Some of the key features of the framework include: 

  • The Victorian Social Services Standards; 
  • The establishment and appointment of a new, independent Social Services Regulator; 
  • A Worker and Carer Exclusion Scheme; and 
  • Mandatory registration requirements for organisations providing services within the scope of the scheme.

A brief explanation of each of these features is below, however more in-depth information is also available on the Department’s website.

The Standards

The new Victorian Social Services Standards are the core requirements that registered service providers will need to comply with. The six Standards are: 

  1. Safe service delivery  
  2. Service user agency and dignity  
  3. Safe service environment 
  4. Feedback and complaints  
  5. Accountable organisational governance 
  6. Safe workforce 

The Standards are available to view on Page 56 of the Draft Social Services Regulations, for providers looking for more specific details on each requirement.  We’ve also summarised them in a document that you can access after you log in to SPP.  

The Regulator

The new Social Services Regulator replaces the existing Human Services Regulator and will be appointed in the second half of 2023. They will be granted monitoring and enforcement powers to aid their response to any risks of harm in service provision and will be actively involved in checking workers and carers’ suitability against the Exclusion Scheme. 

The Worker and Carer Exclusion Scheme

The Worker and Carer Exclusion Scheme will replace the Victorian Carer Register and act as a safeguard against risks of harm for service users.  Providers wishing to employ workers or carers will need to request the regulator to check each individual against the database to ensure that they do not pose a risk of harm before they are employed.  

Registration

Service organisations within the scope of the framework must be registered to confirm the suitability of the organisation itself and its key personnel to provide services to its users. Suitability matters include: 

  • Criminal history;  
  • A history of fraud;  
  • Findings of misconduct; 
  • Whether registration to provide a social service has been revoked, or has had any conditions/sanctions/restrictions placed on it; and  
  • Whether the person/business has been insolvent. 

Registration will also assess a provider’s arrangements, such as their governance structures, insurance and financial capacity, and determine whether the provider and its key personnel have sufficient qualifications, skills and experience to deliver safe and quality services to its users. 

SPP and the new Victorian Social Services Standards

To help you understand all of the requirements and intended outcomes of the new draft Social Services Standards, we’ve built a new self-assessment module in SPP. Of course, if there are any changes made to the final form of the Standards later this year, we will update our module for those changes. 

And for providers who have been using our existing self-assessment module to follow the current Human Services Standards, we have a mapped self-assessment in the new Standards, so that you can quickly compare the two sets of standards and identify any additional areas of work required.

Are you ready for the new Victorian Social Services Framework?

Sign up to SPP to ensure your organisation is prepared to comply with the changes to social service delivery.