Human Services Standards

The Human Services Standards represent a single set of service quality standards for human services funded, regulated or delivered by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

The Human Services Standards were published in Victorian Government Gazette G21 (24 May 2012) as the Department of Human Services Standards (Disability) Determination 2012 and the Department of Human Services Standards (Children, Youth and Families) Determination 2012, respectively.

The Human Services Standards are administered by the Human Services Regulator within the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) as part of its role to regulate human services to minimise harm and to protect the safety and rights of children, young people and adults.

The Human Services Regulator manages end-to-end regulation of organisations across the full suite of human services funded, regulated or delivered by the department. This includes registration, compliance, enforcement and regulatory policy under the Disability Act 2006, Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 and the Supported Residential Services (Private Proprietors) Act 2010.

Find out more about the Human Services Regulator’s role in administering the Human Services Standards on the Human Services Regulator page on the DFFH website, or contact the Human Services Regulator via email:

COVID19 update – independent reviews against the Human Services Standards

The Human Services Regulator is aware of the impact of the pandemic on both organisations providing direct client services and independent review bodies ability to carry out reviews against the Human Services Standards. Given the current situation, department-endorsed independent review bodies have been advised to enact their governing bodies guidance regarding conducting reviews in extraordinary circumstances.

What are the Human Services Standards?

The Standards comprise of five standards: the department’s four service delivery and governance and management standards of a department endorsed independent review body.

Service delivery standards

The Standards represents a single set of service quality standards for organisations delivering services to clients, summarised as:

  • Empowerment: People's rights are promoted and upheld
  • Access and Engagement: People’s right to access transparent, equitable and integrated services is promoted and upheld
  • Wellbeing: People’s right to wellbeing and safety is promoted and upheld
  • Participation: People’s right to choice, decision making and to actively participate as a valued member of their chosen community is promoted and upheld.

Governance and management

Organisations must be effectively governed and managed at all times and meet governance and management standards, as established by the Secretary to the department.

The Standards and independent review process seek to ensure that people experience the same quality of service no matter which service provider they access.

The aim

The Standards aim to:

  • Embed and promote rights for people accessing services
  • Assure the community that service providers are providing services that meet clients’ needs
  • Develop a common and systemic approach to quality review processes
  • Build greater transparency in quality requirements between the department, service providers, clients and the community
  • Enable service providers to select an independent review body from an approved panel that meets their requirements and expectations
  • Foster a culture of continuous quality improvement that is embedded in everyday practice and supports the meaningful participation of people in giving feedback about the services they require and the quality of services they receive
  • Reduce red tape to help ensure service providers have more time and resources to provide services by reducing the number of quality reviews they are required to undertake.

The Standards have been developed in easy English as a word only version and an alternate version with pictures. The documents are titled Rules: We call them the Human Services Standards:

  • Human Services Standards policy

    The Human Services Standards policy sets out the requirements for service providers receiving department funding in scope of the Human Services Standards.

    Service providers that deliver services directly to clients are required to undertake a full certification review against the Standards once in every three year period and maintain their certification as per the process of the endorsed independent review body.

    Human Services Standards policy – updated October 2022 (Word)

  • Human Services Standards evidence guide and resource tool

    The evidence guide, including the Aboriginal culturally informed addendum, is not a checklist but a guide to evidence that demonstrates a service provider meets the Standards. It provides further information about the Standards and supports service providers to undertake an independent review against the Standards and meet the requirements.

    The evidence guide is not prescriptive and encourages service providers to be innovative in how they demonstrate compliance with the Standards. It includes examples of evidence common to all service types as well as some service specific examples as a guide to the particular needs of different programs. The Aboriginal culturally informed addendum is included as an appendix and gives specific examples of evidence against each Standard that supports Aboriginal culturally competent service delivery.

    Aboriginal Culturally Informed Practice

    An Aboriginal culturally informed resource tool has also been designed to be used by service providers in conjunction with the evidence guide and culturally informed addendum. 

    The tool proposes questions to assist service providers in articulating where they are on the cultural competency continuum and determining where efforts need to be directed. It includes specific measureable indicators in the monitoring and evaluation section and these represent the foundations for a continuous quality improvement approach. The indicators support an outcomes focus enabling service providers to move towards measuring the impacts of their service delivery for Aboriginal people. The tool acknowledges that cultural competence is a journey rather than a destination and the suggested indicators are a starting point upon which organisations can build and deepen their Aboriginal cultural competence.

    The resource tool also includes reference to useful contextual and practice documents that will assist service providers in meeting the Standards and delivering quality services and outcomes for Aboriginal people.

    Human Services Standards Evidence Guide (word)

    Human Services Standards Aboriginal culturally informed resource tool (word)

  • Human Services Standards self-assessment tool

    If you are a service provider and the department has exempted you from independent review, you may need to do a self-assessment to prove how you meet the Standards. 

    The self-assessment tool includes an action plan and a file audit tool to audit staff, volunteers, carers and clients' files. 

    You must complete the mandatory section and the stream specific to your circumstances. The self-assessment includes instructions on how to complete it. 

    Download the self-assessment tool

    Human Services Standards self-assessment tool (Excel)

    You can also use the self-assessment tool to apply for registration under either the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 or the Disability Act 2005 or both.

  • Service providers subject to independent reviews

    Service providers in scope of the Standards are required to demonstrate their compliance with the Standards. The key process for assessing compliance is by undertaking independent reviews (unless exempted by the department) and achieving and maintaining accreditation.

    Accreditation and independent review processes help to ensure that service providers have acceptable systems and practices in place for management, administration and service delivery and that there is a culture of continuous improvement.

    Service providers are required to choose an independent review body from a range of department-endorsed independent review bodies.

  • Service providers applying for registration or renewal of registration

    The Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 and Disability Act 2006 set out the requirements for the registration and the renewal of registration of community services that deliver community-based child and family services and/or out-of-home care services and of disability service providers, respectively.

    The activities that require a service provider to be registered are detailed in the department’s Policy, procedures and forms for the registration of DHHS funded disability service providers and community services.

    To be registered or to apply for renewal of registration, service providers need to demonstrate compliance with the Standards. A requirement to meet the governance and management standards of a department-endorsed independent review body has also been gazetted.

  • Staff, volunteer, carer and client file audit tool

    To assist the review of staff, volunteer and carer files and client files, the department has developed a file audit tool in Excel format, for mandatory use by independent review bodies.

    No identifying information is recorded in the file audit tool.

    If you require the tool in an alternative format, please email Standards and Regulation.

    Independent review body access to client files factsheet

    Human Services Standards staff, volunteer, carer and client file audit tool - updated July 2022 (Excel)

  • Human Services Standards independent review bodies

    Department endorsed Independent Review Bodies (IRB) are obliged to meet the following criteria set by the department:

    • Compliance with Australian Standards
    • Authority and ability to review governance and management standards using its own standards, or other department endorsed standards
    • Skills, knowledge and competencies to undertake independent reviews
    • Capacity to review organisations varying in size, location and type of service delivery
    • Processes for sampling, evidence gathering, client stakeholder consultation, acquisition of technical expertise, reporting of review outcomes to organisations and the department and requirements for rectification or reassessment
    • Criteria for accreditation or certification against the Standards
    • Indicative costing to undertake independent reviews
    • Willingness to participate in training delivered by the department and moderation forums
    • Mechanisms for self-review and continuous improvement.

    The responses to the above criteria are commercial in confidence.

    How are the IRBs engaged by the department?

    The department endorsed IRBs are engaged via a deed of agreement or the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) Human Services in Victoria Scheme (Parts 1 and 4). The Deed of Agreement and Scheme define the relationship between the department and the IRB.


    IRB factsheet - updated May 2021 (word)

    IRBs and their contact information - updated January 2022 (word)

    Selecting an IRB factsheet - updated March 2015 (word)

    Content of IRBs review reports - updated October 2021 (word)

  • Registration requirements for community services

    A service provider that holds a service agreement with the department to deliver community-based child and family services and out-of-home care is required to apply for registration as a community service under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

    For more information, see Registration requirements for community services

  • Registration requirements for disability service providers

    A service provider that holds a service agreement with the department to deliver disability services is required to apply for registration as a disability service provider under the Disability Act 2006. In certain circumstances, a disability service provider not funded by the department is also required to be registered under the Disability Act.