Human Services Standards

The Human Services Standards (gazetted as Department of Health and Human Services Standards) represent a single set of service quality standards for department funded service providers and department-managed services.

COVID19 update - independent reviews against the Human Services Standards

The Department of Health and Human Services is aware of the impact of the virus 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.

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 of Health and Human Services.

The standards help to meet the Victorian Government’s commitment to reducing red tape faced by funded service providers. They do this by streamlining departmental accreditation requirements.

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 with pictures version. The documents are titled Rules: We call them the Human Services Standards. 

Rules: We call them the Human Services Standards - with pictures (word)

Rules: We call them the Human Services Standards - text only (word)

  • Human Services Standards policy

    The Human Services Standards policy sets out the requirements for department-funded service providers receiving 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 July 2021 (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.

    An Aboriginal culturally informed resource tool has 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

    Service providers subject to independent reviews

    Service providers that are required to undertake an independent review are to use their chosen independent review body's self-assessment process.

    Service providers that deliver direct care to clients, where the department has provided an exemption from undertaking an independent review are required to undertake a self-assessment, including completing staff, volunteer, carer and client file audits, the compliance audit tool and supplementary commentary report.

    Service providers applying for registration or renewal of registration

    Service providers applying for registration or renewal of registration under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 and/or the Disability Act 2006 may be required to undertake a self-assessment .

    The department has developed an online self-assessment tool designed to streamline the self-assessment process and reduce administrative burden for organisations.

    The online self-assessment tool incorporates a:

    • Self-assessment (including a quality workplan)
    • Supplementary commentary report
    • File audit tool (incorporating staff, volunteer, carer and client audit tools) 
    • Registration application form.

    Organisations that are required to use this online self-assessment tool will be provided with a link to the tool and a User Guide to assist in navigating the tool.

    We will grant access to the tool as required.

    The completed self-assessment should be provided to the department’s Standards and Regulation Unit email.

  • 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 2020 (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 April 2021 (word)

    Selecting an IRB factsheet - updated March 2015 (word)

    Content of IRBs review reports - updated August 2019 (word)

  • Standards and Regulation Unit updates

  • 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.

    For more information, see Registration requirements for disability service providers.