An independent audit is an examination by a third party of the extent to which a service provider meets quality and/or industry standards. It allows for independent observation and review of processes and performance, as well as bringing specialist knowledge and skills to guide service provider development.
Not all providers delivering services under a service agreement with the department are required to undertake an independent audit. For those that are, the audit process should be approached as a partnership with the auditing body which, whilst requiring investment of time and other resources, will significantly benefit the service provider.
The service provider should first complete a self-assessment. This forms part of a ‘gap analysis’, showing where the gaps are between the service provider’s current systems and the requirements of the standards. Once gaps have been identified and addressed, the service provider will be ready for independent audit.
Participating in an independent audit first requires the engagement of an auditing body. Service providers required to demonstrate compliance with the standards through HSQF certification need to select and contract a JAS-ANZ certified auditing body to undertake their audit. Providers that have undertaken an audit and acquired certification or accreditation through an alternate quality system to the HSQF may be eligible for recognition of some or all of that accreditation.
General comments about using the templates and guides
The HSQF is a more generic set of Standards designed to apply to a range of service types, and is worded in terms of Expected Outcomes, Context and Indicators. It does not prescribe specific policies. In order to be compliant, organisations need to demonstrate that they have guiding documents (policies, procedures, plans, etc) records, staff awareness and client understanding around each of the indicators.
We offer a standard set of templates, which respond to the Indicators, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. Depending upon how your organisation works, some policies may make more sense if they are combined into one. Other areas may be complex and more manageable if divided into several separate policies. In these instances, you can still use the guides to check that you have everything covered.