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.

An update on the Child Safe Standards in Victoria

In March this year, we wrote a blog post which looked at where each state or territory was at with their implementation of the Child Safe Standards. Since then, there have been significant updates in Victoria. Last month, the Commission for Children and Young People in Victoria (the Commission) released the new Child Safe Standards, which aim to “provide more clarity for organisations and are more consistent with Standards in the rest of Australia”.

Do the new Standards apply to my organisation?

To find out if your organisation has to comply with the Child Safe Standards in Victoria, click here. And if you have additional questions around the new Victorian Child Safe Standards, their frequently asked questions page is a good place to start!

When do the new Standards commence?

The Standards will come into effect in Victoria on the 1st of July 2022. The Commission has recommended that organisations start thinking about meeting the new Standards and review their current approach to child safety, to plan what they need to do to comply with the new Standards.

The Commission has said that if organisations choose to meet the Standards before the 1st of July 2022, they will be accepted as compliant by the Commission.

How do the new Standards differ from the National Principles?

The Victorian Child Safe Standards closely align with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (the National Principles).  However, there is one additional Standard (Standard 1) on cultural safety for Aboriginal children and young people, and two additional indicators in Standard 3 around empowering children and young people. Given that the Victorian Standards differ slightly from the National Principles, some organisations who work nationally or across state borders will need to comply with both sets of Standards.  

How can SPP help me to meet the new Standards?

The good news is that SPP can assist Victorian providers to meet not just the Victorian Child Safe Standards but also Child Safe Standards across other jurisdictions. Last month, following the release of the Victorian Child Safe Standards, we added a self-assessment into the platform to assist providers to meet their new requirements. We have previously added self-assessments into SPP for both the NSW Child Safe Standards and the National Principles.

Our new Victorian Child Safe self-assessment is cross-mapped to other child safe standards on our platform, meaning that your answers will carry across from one set of standards to another, where there are common or duplicated requirements. So, if you self-assess against the Victorian Child Safe Standards, you will simultaneously be making progress against the National Principles and the NSW Child Safe Standards.

The self-assessment will assist organisations to identify any gaps or areas for quality improvement.  It also provides a range of child safe templates that providers can download and tailor to their needs.  

You can find the new self-assessment for the Victorian Child Safe Standards under the Standards tab > Australian National Standards.

Want to learn more?

For more information about the child safe self-assessments and resources on our platform, sign up for a free trial!

Update on self-assessments for Victorian providers

Along with all of the national standards that are relevant to Victorian community and health services providers, our SPP platform contains a number of Victorian-specific self-assessments, including for the:

  • Human Services Standards,
  • Victorian Child Safe Standards, and
  • VRQA guidelines for VET providers. 

All of our self-assessments are designed to help organisations to:

  • understand their obligations as simply as possible,
  • monitor their compliance status, and automatically generate gap analysis and improvement plans, as well as
  • create compliance reports and evidence packs for reviewers.

In recent months, we’ve added a number of new Victorian self-assessments into SPP across a range of service areas. This blog post features several key Victorian standards which are new to SPP, and outlines some other Victorian standards that we plan to incorporate over the coming weeks.

Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework

The MARAM framework assists services to ensure that they are effectively identifying, assessing and managing family violence risk. The framework sets out key principles and elements that should be embedded into policies, procedures, service delivery and practice, and identifies the responsibilities of various organisational areas and staff across the system.

The MARAM framework is supported by a number of resources and tools to guide organisations through their relevant responsibilities under the Framework.

Our self-assessment contains links to the relevant guides, templates and tools, to assist your organisation with implementation of the framework.

Victorian Complaint Handling Standards

These standards are intended to strengthen and improve complaint handling across the health sector, as well as provide consistency for consumers, complainants, health service providers and other stakeholders.

Applies to all Victorian health services

All health services in Victoria are required to meet the complaint handling standards, which came into effect in June 2020.

Self-assessing in SPP

We have incorporated these standards into SPP to assist providers with understanding and meeting their requirements. Self-assessing against the standards will guide organisations through the steps to ensure an effective complaints management system is in place. 

Healthcare that counts framework

The Healthcare that counts framework articulates the role of health services in the early identification of, and effective response to, vulnerable children at risk of child abuse and neglect. 

It promotes collaborative partnerships across all sectors working with vulnerable children and families, to ensure that responsibility for ensuring children’s safety and wellbeing is shared.

Who does it apply to?

All Victorian health services are expected to embed the action areas and performance indicators outlined in the framework into their organisational governance and continuous quality improvement processes, and undertake an annual self-assessment to measure their progress against the framework.

How can SPP help?

We’ve add into SPP a self-assessment for the Healthcare that counts framework, which will enable providers to measure their implementation of, and progress against, the standards.

The self-assessment includes the five action areas to guide improvement, as well as indicators of best practice. Completing the self-assessment will assist health services to improve, sustain and monitor their responses to vulnerable children.

Domestic Violence Victoria Code of Practice

The DV Victoria Code of Practice is designed to enhance the safety of women and children in Victoria, with a model of best practice for services that provide a specialist response to women and children experiencing family violence. 

We are hoping to progress a self-assessment for the Domestic Violence Victoria Code of Practice shortly, so that this can be available in the coming weeks. 

Community Services Quality Governance Framework

The Community Services Quality Governance Framework outlines the principles, domains, roles and responsibilities of quality governance and includes measures of success, and indicators of poor performance.

It is designed for use across a wide range of community services.

We will be adding a self-assessment for these standards into SPP within the next couple of months.   

Need help in other areas?

Our sole focus is to continue to build self-assessments and resources that will simplify and streamline the standards compliance and quality improvement processes of community and health service providers.

Please get in touch if you have suggestions for other resources and self-assessments that could make your life easier!

Sign up for a free trial

You can access these self-assessments and many more in the SPP platform.