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Reforming social services regulation 212.14 KB

Victorians access important social services every day. The children, young people, families and adults who use these services are often vulnerable to abuse or exploitation. Many live with the impact of trauma and are dealing with complex circumstances. This can lead to an imbalance of power which, if not acknowledged and managed well, can place service users at risk of harms such as abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The Victorian Government is committed to addressing these risks through robust and appropriate safeguarding systems. Many social services are currently subjected to various accountability measures, but these arrangements are fragmented and inefficient. The social services sector has highlighted the need for regulation reform in order to support its commitment to prioritising safety and to create greater efficiencies. The sector has also told us the current accountability measures and processes are complex and burdensome.  

To address these issues, the department is replacing the existing set of disjointed schemes with one single, streamlined regulatory framework that will be administered by a new Regulator that reports directly to the Minister. This will create a separation from the functions of system stewardship, policy design, funding and contract management. The new framework will better support safe service delivery whilst reducing administrative burden.

New Social Services Standards will form the foundation of the new regulatory framework, replacing the current Human Services Standards. These will also replace the Supported Residential Services sector’s Accommodation and Personal Support Standards. They set out outcome-based requirements that focus on ensuring safe service delivery and protecting the human rights of service users. They were designed through extensive consultation with people who had accessed support from a range of social services. While they cover similar areas to the current standards, their strong connection to specific outcomes will provide clarity to regulated entities about what is required for compliance. They are designed to target key risks to service users and be capable of enforcement.

The information pack will be of most interest to agencies already meeting the Human Service Standards via their department funding and service agreements and/or relevant legislation. These agencies will be among the first group subject to the new regulations when these changes commence in 2023.  A series of consultation forums about the changes will start soon. These forums will be an opportunity for agencies to ask questions and seek clarity. The forums will be promoted via email and in upcoming newsletter editions. 

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