Effective management of quality systems is a three-tiered process involving processes, procedures and the people who are responsible for implementation. Implementing, managing and regularly reviewing quality systems allows organisations to be more efficient in managing staff time, providing quality service delivery to clients and maintaining legislative requirements.
Implementing these systems impacts every aspect of organisational performance from board and management processes through to client access, satisfaction and outcomes. Outcomes of an effective and reviewed system can include:
- Better service delivery to clients
- Clear organisational direction
- Clear understanding of policy, process and responsibilities for whole of organisation
- Implemented and utilised systems as every day to day tasks saves time
- Improved processes
- Lowering costs
- Lower risks to the organisation
There are a number of quality standards that the community services sector may have to adhere to, including:
The Human Services Quality Framework is the quality assurance framework for assessing and promoting improvement in the quality of human services.
The National Quality Framework (NQF) provides a national approach to regulation, assessment and quality improvement for early childhood.
The NDIS Practice Standards specify the quality standards to be met by registered NDIS providers to provide supports and services to NDIS participants.
Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF)
The Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF) is Queensland’s Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors system for assessing and promoting improvement in the quality of human services.
The Human Services Quality Framework describes how the HSQF applies to in-scope organisations and services. An updated version of the Quality Framework Quality FrameworkVersion 7.0 commenced from 1 October 2020.
Who is required to participate in the HSQF process?
The HSQF applies to:
- organisations funded to deliver human services under service agreements, or other specified arrangements, with the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors and the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women
- organisations funded to deliver child protection placement services in-scope of licensing under an Individual Client Service agreement with DCSYW Child Related Costs Placement and Support
- organisations funded by Queensland Health that have been advised by Queensland Health that they can use HSQF to meet quality requirements.
The amount of funding your organisation receives will determine which process you will need to comply with.
- $0 – $100,000 per year – no requirement to complete HSQF
- $100,000 – $263,000 – Self Assessment and Continuous Improvement plan only
- $263,000 and more – Certification with an external, independent audit
More detailed information about thresholds is available on the Department of Communities website.
Auditors fees are at the cost of the organisation, however, for some circumstances, subsidies may be applied for to assist with the cost of this. A list of approved auditors are available on the Department of Communities website.
Where to find support for HSQF
The Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors website provides information and factsheets on the steps to implement and maintain quality service systems that meet HSQF compliance. It has provides the latest information in the news and updates section of its website.
Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) provides a range of supports to assist the sector to implement the HSQF, primarily organisations funded under the Community Services and Child and Family funding streams that are transitioning to the HSQF for the first time.
Free QCOSS support includes:
One-on-one or small group support – to assist organisations that are new to HSQF to implement a quality system and prepare for their quality assessment activities. Organisations can contact QCOSS for support or be referred by their departmental contract officer. Apply for support here or call 07 3004 6900.
Policy templates and supporting documents have been developed by QCOSS to assist organisations with implementing the Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF). The templates provide a way for organisations to check whether their existing policies and procedures meet all the criteria of the standards or to draft new policies and procedures if needed. You can access the templates here.
A HSQF online learning course on the Community Door eTraining website (you need to register for an account to access this free course).
Quality Collaboration Network (QCN)
QCOSS regularly convenes the Quality Collaboration Network (QCN) – to enhance best practice within the sector in relation to quality. The QCN meets the third Wednesday of every month (February to November) at 9:30am to 11:00am. The network is a joint initiative of QCOSS, quality professionals and the human services sector with the aim of:
- enhancing collaborative practice;
- providing feedback to the Queensland Government’s HSQF team;
- sharing information, resources and learning; and
- providing feedback on implementation issues from a sector perspective to the Queensland Government’s HSQF team.
QCN meetings are open to any quality, policy, compliance or risk professionals within non-government organisations delivering Human Services across Queensland. You can register for the next QCN meeting by going to the QCOSS events page.
HSQF stories from the sector
In a series of videos we spoke to community organisations Gailes Community House and Mununjali to discuss their experiences of implementing HSQF. We asked them how the HSQF experience was for them.
Did you find any opportunities for improvement throughout the process?
What resources would you recommend for supporting you through HSQF?
Do you have any tips and tricks of the HSQF process to share with other services?
Domestic and family violence sector
As part of significant reform coming from the ‘Not Now, Not Ever’ – Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland report, specifically recommendation 82, the Queensland Government has revised the Practice Standards for the funded domestic and family violence sector, as well as developed a monitoring and compliance framework, the Regulatory Framework, to ensure a high level of service delivery across the state.
Both the Practice Standards and the Regulatory Framework capture all department-funded domestic and family violence (DFV) services, which includes DFV support services, perpetrator intervention services, women’s shelters and integrated service responses. Improving service consistency sets a baseline for service delivery and works towards the goal that all victims and perpetrators are provided with the same quality of service, no matter where they are in Queensland.
Both the Practice Standards and Regulatory Framework can be voluntarily applied more broadly by other agencies whose core business is impacted by DFV. This includes prescribed entities such as those delivering police and justice services, health (including mental health and drug and alcohol services), education, and tertiary and statutory child protection services.
Resources and contact
The department has developed a suite of resources to support the implementation of the Practice Standards and Regulatory Framework which are available on the webpage links provided.
WorkUp Queensland also offers practice studios, knowledge circles, professional development and workforce planning for the DFV sector and can assist services in preparing for the implementation of the regulatory framework.
For more information, please contact your regional contract manager or email the Domestic and Family Violence Service System Reform Team.
Domestic and family violence services – Practice Standards
The Practice principles standards guidance (revised practice standards), bring together all domestic and family violence service types under one consolidated set of standards. The practice standards have been updated to reflect:
- improved practices and procedures that have been developed over decades by specialist domestic and family violence services, women’s services and other agencies involved in working with people who use and experience violence
- contemporary theoretical frameworks
- national and state policies and strategies
The revised practice standards have been consolidated and streamlined to ensure funded services have the flexibility and autonomy to innovate and use their expertise to deliver services. The domestic and family violence practice standards are intended to outline the everyday practice expectations for people working in Queensland’s domestic and family violence system.
Domestic and family violence services – Regulatory Framework
The Regulatory Framework is the monitoring and compliance mechanism to ensure a high standard of service delivery across DFV services by ensuring ongoing compliance of Queensland Government funded domestic and family violence (DFV) services with the Practice principles, standards and guidance. The Regulatory Framework was published on 1 July 2021, with compliance required by 1 January 2022.
The Regulatory Framework aims to promote practice consistency and continuous improvement across the sector to improve victim safety, perpetrator accountability and service integration across Queensland. The Regulatory Framework achieves this by highlighting good practice and using an audit process to identify areas for improvement, as well as to provide early warning of any potential issues.
The Regulatory Framework is operationalised through the Human services quality framework (HSQF), the Queensland Government’s existing monitoring and compliance framework in place for all funded human service organisations, including DFV specialist services. As part of the Regulatory Framework, DFV-specific criteria designed to measure implementation of the Practice Standards have been embedded into the HSQF user guide.
The Regulatory Framework will come into effect on 1 January 2022, which means that after the compliance date, all funded services will be assessed against the new DFV-specific criteria in the HSQF user guide in their next scheduled (and future) HSQF audits. However, there are some exceptions for specific funding streams:
- Delayed compliance – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services (T310)
- services will not be required to be audited against the new DFV specific requirements as part of their HSQF certification process until their first scheduled audit after 1 January 2023, although they may still elect to as a preparatory exercise.
- Grace period – Women’s Shelters – Temporary Supported Accommodation – Immediate (ST6)
- shelters will be exempt from major non-conformances during their first audit, if it falls within six months after 1 January 2022 (recertification or maintenance audit). This means that they will have additional time to address any major issues identified through the audit, consistent with the process for addressing standard non-conformances.