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Service Agreement Information Kit for Funded Organisations

Chapter 4. Departmental policies, procedures and initiatives

4.1 Fire risk management - DHHS only

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to all facilities in which the Department Health and Human Services owns, operates or funds which provide bed-based care, support or sleeping accommodation for clients under its care, but does not include typical domestic style dwelling and Low, medium and high rise multi-dwelling facilities used for public housing stock for individual rental agreements with tenants or Accommodation facilities used as boarding facilities, guest facilities, hostels or the like, rooming facilities as defined in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and crisis accommodation.

Policy purpose

  • The purpose of this policy is to set minimum standards for documenting and compliance reporting with the Statutory and Guideline requirements; it also ensures that the delivering of fire and emergency response procedures that should be in place.
  • To manage the risks to life due to fire in certain types of buildings which are owned, operated or funded by the department.

Legislation and /or regulation

Organisation requirements

Chief executives and general managers of services, agencies, networks and other facilities are responsible for ensuring the implementation of appropriate fire risk management measures required to satisfy statutory requirements and the appropriate Department of Health and Human Services guidelines.

Protecting clients

Protecting clients from fire risk is an important part of their care and of paramount importance to the department. The Service Agreement acknowledges that an organisation is responsible for complying with all laws, mandatory standards relating to fire protection, safety, health and general safety that apply to any premises from which the organisation owns or operates, irrespective of whether the relevant regulatory requirements place the obligation on the owner or occupier of those premises. The applicable guidelines for fire risk for department owned, operated or funded buildings/services are the Capital Development Guidelines, Series 7, Fire Risk Management, August 2013 (external link, opens in a new window).

An organisation entering into a Service Agreement must have in place an appropriate system to protect people under its care. For this reason, the Department is keen to clarify its role and the role of the organisation in protecting the Department's clients from fire risk.

Fire Safety Audit

Every facilities must conduct regular fire safety audits in accordance with the requirements of the Capital Development Guidelines, Series 7, Fire Risk Management, August 2013 (external link, opens in a new window) at least once every five years or as required by the Fire Risk Management Review Panel to monitor ongoing compliance, and whenever a modification or addition is proposed to be made to the structure of the building. A fire safety audit can only be undertaken by a practitioner who is accredited to undertake fire safety audits. Accreditation may be limited to specific building or buildings and/or occupancy types.

Fire Safety Handbook

Every facility must have a fire safety handbook which is a unique document for each building or facility that defines the fire safety strategy for that building in terms of the required levels of compliance, performance, design parameters and maintenance requirements for each physical or human measure/factor. The required template for the Fire Safety Handbook is on the departments website ‘Fire Risk Management’.

The Occupational Health & Safety Act 2004 (opens in a new window, external link) as amended (OHSA) and case law provide that what is ‘reasonably practicable’ is that which is reasonably able to be done at the particular time and in a particular circumstance. This is to be determined by taking into consideration to all relevant matters including the following:

(a) likelihood of the hazard or risk eventuating

(b) degree of harm that would result if the  hazard or risk eventuated

(c) knowledge – including what a person ought to know – about the hazard or risk and any ways of eliminating or reducing the hazard or risk

(d) availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or reduce the hazard or risk

(e) cost of eliminating or reducing that hazard or risk.

The severest degree of harm that may result from a fire can be multiple fatalities. In light of this, considerable efforts should be made to eliminate or minimise the likelihood of a fire occurring (for example, through choice of building materials and regulation of activities within buildings) and to eliminate or minimise harm to the health and safety of people from the fire (for example, through fire suppression and timely evacuation).

Services provided in own home

For services provided to a client in their own primary residence (whether leased or owned by the client), the department expects that the client (and where appropriate, the owner of the premises) will have responsibility for their own fire safety and ensure that the premises meet all relevant building local laws and regulations or legislation, including retrospective obligations.

The department notes that the relevant authorities (for example, local councils and fire authorities, Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board and Country Fire Authority) are responsible for enforcement of fire safety provisions.

Responsibility for a client's fire safety is not specifically part of the funded service but is implied through common law or other duty of care requirements.

Other services

For services other than in the client's home, the organisation is required to ensure that the people in its care are appropriately protected from fire risk. This includes premises, operational readiness and client placement.

Premises

The department expects that the premises meet the relevant building local laws, regulations or legislation in force at the time of construction, including provisions that apply retrospectively (for example, requirement for smoke alarms). Any subsequent building works shall meet the relevant building approval provisions at the corresponding time.

Where this is not the case, or where the organisation determines that the premises do not provide an appropriate level of fire safety, the organisation is expected to ensure that the premises are brought up to minimum regulatory standard and in compliance with the Capital Development Guidelines, Series 7, Fire Risk Management, August 2013 (external link, opens in a new window).

Operational readiness

The organisation must ensure that appropriate operational readiness measures are developed, implemented and reviewed. This includes (but is not limited to) fire emergency management and evacuation procedures, training of staff to implement the procedures developed, and maintenance of fire safety systems.

Management Tasks

The organisation must ensure that appropriate fire safety readiness measures are developed, implemented and reviewed. This includes:

(a) holding a current fire risk audit that is less than 5 years old,

(b) fire emergency management and evacuation procedures,

(c) training of staff to implement the procedures developed,

(d) maintenance of all the fire safety systems and any deviations through an alternative solution,

(e) holding or having access to a current Fire Safety Handbook as defined in the current Capital Development Guidelines Series 7, Fire Risk Management, August 2013 (external link, opens in a new window).

It is expected that an organisation prepares for, responds to, and recovers from, emergencies in accordance with the 'all hazards' approach. This includes, but is not limited to, fire, bushfire, flood, relocation, evacuation and prolonged service interruption.

Additionally, the organisation must ensure essential services are maintained.

Client placement

Where the organisation selects the clients for bed based services, the organisation must determine whether the premises are suitable for the client to be evacuated safely, taking into account the fire systems installed and the capacity of the client to evacuate. Where changes occur that may affect the client's ongoing ability to evacuate safely, the suitability of the placement must be reassessed immediately and appropriate action taken as soon as possible.

Where the organisation does not select the clients, the organisation is still required to monitor any relevant changes that may affect the client's ongoing ability to evacuate safely, assess the suitability of the placement, and take appropriate action as soon as possible.

Table 1 Fire safety - additional requirements

Standard No. Name of Standard Application (summarised - see Figure 1) Departmental Guideline accompanying the standard Fire Safety Certificate No.
1 Lead Tenant/Home Based Care Services Fire Safety Standard
  1. Lead tenant services - otherwise Standard No.5 applies.
  2. Bed based service provided in carer's private home and only to clients that are related - otherwise Standard No.5 applies.
Not applicable Not required
2 Support Service Only Fire Safety Standard Service provided to a person in their private home (owned or leased) and excludes shared accommodation by unrelated clients – otherwise Standard No.5 applies. Not applicable Not required
3 Relevant Authorities Fire Safety Standard

Bed based service intended for non-statutory clients in either government or non-government owned premise, either with or without 24 hour rostered/live in staff support or supervision.

Capital Development Guidelines, Series 7, Fire Risk Management, August 2013 Fire Safety Compliance - Certificate No. 3 (opens in a new window - Word 76.0 KB)
4 Department's Fire Risk Management Standard Premises owned or leased by the State Government provided with bed based services receiving rostered/live-in staff support or supervision and intended to house statutory clients. Capital Development Guidelines, Series 7, Fire Risk Management Fire Safety Compliance - Certificate No. 4 (opens in a new window - word 76.0 KB)
5 Non-Government Organisation Premises Fire Safety Standard Premises (not a private home) owned or leased by organisations with bed based service receiving rostered/live-in staff support or supervision intended to house statutory clients. Capital Development Guidelines, Series 7, Fire Risk Management, August 2013 Fire Safety Compliance - Certificate No. 5 (opens in a new window - Word 80.0 KB)
6 Hospitals Public or Private hospitals Capital Development Guidelines, Series 7, Fire Risk Management Fire Safety Compliance - Certificate No. 6(opens in a new window - PDF)

To check which standard applies, refer to Figure 1.

If you have any questions about the application of fire safety standards in the premises from which services are delivered to clients, contact your assigned Local Engagement Officer (LEO) in the Agency Connections Team of the Division or other contacts as allocated by the department.

Compliance certification process

The CEO (or equivalent) of an organisation that provides bed based services (under standards 3, 4, 5 and 6 see table 1) is required to complete and provide the department with the relevant fire safety certificates as part of the service agreement process. Even though the service agreement is for a three year period, the certificates must be completed annually. This ensures that the organisation provides certification to the department that they have checked all relevant services and that they meet, and will continue to meet, the department's fire safety requirements. The CEO must have appropriate procedures in place to ensure ongoing maintenance and reporting.

The annual certificates to be used are included on the forms and certificates page of this site.

Certificates covering each financial year (1 July to 30 June) must be received by 1 September in the following financial year or at a date agreed in writing with the department.

Fire damage to asset report

Organisations are required to provide Fire damage to asset reports to the Department of Health and Human Services' Fire Risk Management Unit. Fire damage to asset reports will be accessible from the Funded Agency Channel website and are to be lodged as soon as possible after the incident.

Fire incident and false alarm reports - incident reports

Organisations are required to provide fire incident and false alarm reports to the department following the department's incident reporting instruction and reporting process. Refer to Section 4.3 Incident reporting of this kit for further information. Fire incident and false alarm reports should be lodged using the Incident Report form as soon as possible after the incident.

Definitions

Bed based service
A service contracted to provide overnight accommodation for clients.

Client
Has the same meaning as that defined in the Capital Development Guidelines, Series 7, Fire Risk Management, August 2013 (external link, opens in a new window) or as amended.

Lead tenant
A service which provides semi-independent accommodation in a household for people who are in transition to independent living using a live-in volunteer to facilitate a supportive environment.

Private home or residence
A home owned by the occupant(s), or a home formally or informally leased by the occupant(s).

Statutory client
Clients for whom the department has custody or guardianship. Clients may receive services pursuant to the Disability Act 2006 (opens in a new window, Word 1.18 MB) or the Children, Youth & Families Act 2005 (opens in a new window, external link).

24 hour support or supervision
Staff support or supervision is provided whenever clients are in residence and includes active night rosters, sleepover rosters and the 24 hour worker model.

Figure 1 Determining appropriate fire safety standards

Flowchart for determining appropriate fire safety standards

Refer to Figure 1 Determining appropriate fire safety standards (Word 134 KB) for an accessible version of the above diagram.

 

Fire safety standards

Lead tenant / Home based care services fire safety standard (Standard No. 1)

Application

Type of service:

Services provided from carer's private home (whether owned or leased by the carer) or Lead tenant.

A situation involving two or more unrelated statutory clients or clients (funding provided by the department) who are provided services by the carer in the carer owned or leased premises, is considered as a Non-Government Organisation Premises Fire Safety Standard (Standard No.5).

Specifications

The organisation is required to make certain that persons under its care are appropriately protected from the risk of fire. This protection includes:

(a) obtaining an assurance from the building owner that smoke alarms have been installed in accordance with the requirements of the Building Regulations

(b) implementing strategies in response to clients with known or suspected fire lighting tendencies. This includes:

i. seeking assessment for the person, to determine the severity of the behaviour and the likely risks

ii. identifying strategies for managing and modifying the behaviour and addressing related causal issues, as part of the Case Plan and Individual Plan

iii. actively implementing these strategies

iv. referral to appropriate services to modify fire lighting behaviour to a safe level, and

v. ensuring an adequate level of fire safety management in the household.

Client placement

Where the organisation selects the clients, the organisation must determine whether the premises are suitable for the client to be evacuated safely, taking into account any fire safety systems installed, and the evacuation capacities of the client. Where changes may affect the client's ongoing ability to evacuate safely, the suitability of the placement must be reassessed and appropriate action taken.

Where the organisation does not select the clients, the organisation must still monitor any relevant changes that may affect the client's ongoing ability to evacuate safely, assess the suitability of the placement, and take appropriate action.

Support Service only Fire Safety Standard (Standard No. 2)

Application

Type of service:
Services provided to clients in their private home (whether leased or owned by the client).

A situation of shared accommodation (two or more) by unrelated statutory clients or client’s (funding provided by the department) in owned or leased premises is considered as a Non-Government Organisation Premises Fire safety Standard (Standard No.5).

Specifications

The department expects that the client (and where appropriate the owner of the premises) is responsible for their own fire safety and ensuring that the premises meet all relevant building local laws, regulations or legislation, including those that apply retrospectively.

The department notes that the relevant statutory authorities (for example, local councils) are charged with enforcing fire safety provisions.

The responsibility for a client's fire safety is not specifically part of the service purchased from the organisation, but is implied through common law (or other duty of care) requirements.

Client placement

The relevant organisation must determine whether the lead tenant premises are suitable for young people to be evacuated safely and must take into account the individual capacity of each young person to evacuate. Young people with any history of fire-lighting behaviours must be assessed to determine the currency of the behaviour and the level of risk. Where it is determined that a young person is at risk of lighting fires, they are not suitable to be placed in lead tenant accommodation.

Where a young person or lead tenant has a condition (temporary or ongoing) that would impede their capacity to evacuate safely, the placement must be reassessed immediately and appropriate action taken as soon as possible by the organisation.

Relevant Authorities Fire Safety Standard (Standard No. 3)

Application

Type of service:

Bed based with 24 hours rostered/live-in staff support/supervision.

State government owned or Non-government owned premises (but not a private home) where the department's Fire Risk Management Standard has not been specified or the service is not intended specifically to house statutory clients or clients provided with 24 hour care funding.

May include some disability, placement and support and bed-based overnight respite residential services.

Specifications

The organisation is required to make certain that the persons in its care are appropriately protected from risk from fire. This protection includes:

  • Premises - the department expects that the premises meet all relevant building local laws, regulations or legislation, including provisions that apply retrospectively (for example, requirement for smoke alarms). It is expected that the premises were constructed to meet the requirements of relevant building by-Laws, regulations or legislation in force at the time of construction and that building works have been undertaken in accordance with relevant building approval provisions since that time.

Where this is not the case, or where the organisation otherwise determines that the premises do not meet a standard which provides an appropriate level of fire safety, the organisation is expected to ensure that the premises are brought up to provide an appropriate level of fire safety protection.

The department notes that the relevant statutory authorities (for example, local councils and fire authorities Melbourne Fire Brigade and Country Fire Authority) are responsible for the enforcement of fire safety provisions.

*In each case a reference to premises refers to those premises from which the service (which is subject to this Service Agreement) is provided.

  • Operational readiness - the organisation must ensure that appropriate operational readiness measures are developed, implemented and reviewed. This includes (but is not limited to) development of fire emergency management and evacuation procedures, training of staff to implement the procedures developed, and maintenance of fire safety systems.
  • Maintenance of essential safety measures - the organisation shall ensure that all Essential Safety Measures (including all fire safety equipment/systems) are being adequately maintained, in accordance with the Building Regulations.

Completion of the Weekly checklist (opens in a new window, Word 194 KB) will assist in providing documentation to support completion of the annual Essential Safety Measures Report.

  • Client placement - Where the organisation selects the clients, the organisation must determine whether the premises are suitable for the client to be evacuated safely, taking into account any fire safety systems installed and the evacuation capacities of the client. Where any relevant change may affect the client's ongoing ability to evacuate safely, the suitability of the placement must be immediately reassessed and appropriate action taken as soon as possible.

Where the organisation does not select the clients, the organisation must still monitor any relevant changes that may affect the client's ongoing ability to evacuate safely, assess the suitability of the placement, and take appropriate action as soon as possible.

  • Fire Safety Certification - Fire Safety - Certificate No. 3 (opens in a new window - Word 76.0 KB) must be returned by 1 September in the following financial year or by a date to be agreed between the organisation and the department's assigned Local Engagement Officer (LEO) in the Agency Connections Team of the Division. This date will take into account any relevant upgrade works that are scheduled.

The department's fire risk management standard (Standard No. 4)

Application

Type of service:

Bed based with rostered/live-in staff support/supervision. May include disability (including respite), placement and support, secure welfare, juvenile justice, secure facilities and residential services.

Premises

Owned or leased by the State Government (the Crown, the Secretary of the department or the Director of Housing), but not rental general stock (RGS).

Accompanying document

Capital Development Guidelines, Series 7, Fire Risk Management, August 2013 (external link, opens in a new window) (the relevant guidelines applicable for specific occupancy types for which the organisation has responsibility). The guidelines can be accessed on the Fire Risk Management policy, procedures and guidelines.

Specifications

The organisation is required to make certain that persons in its care are appropriately protected from risk from fire. This protection includes:

The organisation must ensure that any non-compliance with these guidelines that it becomes aware of is reported to the building owner (the appropriate representative of the Crown, the Secretary or the Director of Housing, as relevant) so that remedial action may be taken.

*In each case a reference to premises refers to those premises from which the service (which is subject to this service agreement) is provided.

  • Operational readiness - the organisation must ensure that appropriate operational readiness measures are developed, implemented and reviewed as a minimum in accordance with Australian Standards: AS 4083-2010, Planning for emergencies - Health care facilities as appropriate. This includes (but is not limited to) development of fire emergency management and evacuation procedures, training of staff to implement the procedures developed, and conducting regular evacuation drills.

For organisations providing disability and/or placement and support residential services, operational readiness measures shall be in accordance with the department's Fire and Emergency Response Procedures and Training Framework (as amended from time to time). The framework can be accessed on the department's website (Publications section under the heading of Fire Risk Management, 'Fire and Emergency Response Procedures and Training Framework').

  • Maintenance of Essential Safety Measures - the department will fulfill its responsibilities as owner of the premises by maintaining fire safety systems. The organisation must ensure that any factor that may affect the performance or operation of fire safety equipment, fire safety fittings, fire safety measures, exits and essential services that it becomes aware of is reported to the building owner.

Completing the Weekly checklist (Word 194 KB, opens in a new window, ) will assist in providing documentation to substantiate adequate maintenance of essential safety measures.

  • Client placement - Where the organisation selects the clients, the organisation must determine whether the premises are suitable for the client to be evacuated safely, taking into account any fire safety systems installed and the evacuation capacities of the client. Where any relevant change may affect the client's ongoing ability to evacuate safely, the suitability of the placement must be reassessed immediately and appropriate action taken as soon as possible.

Where the organisation does not select the clients, the organisation must still monitor any relevant changes that may affect the client's ongoing ability to evacuate safely, assess the suitability of the placement, and take appropriate action as soon as possible.

  • Fire Safety Certification - Fire Safety Certificate No. 4 ( Word 76.0 KB, opens in a new window) must be returned by 1 September in the following financial year, or by a date to be agreed between the organisation and the department's assigned Local Engagement Officer in the Agency Connections Team of the Division. This date will take into account any relevant upgrading works that are scheduled.

Funded organisation (owned / leased) premises fire safety standard (Standard No. 5)

Application

Type of service:

Bed based with rostered/live-in staff support/supervision for statutory clients. May include disability (including respite), placement and support, mental health, drug and alcohol and residential services.

Premises*:

Owned, operated or leased by the organisation, but not a private home (subject to conditions refer Standard 1 and 2 above).

Accompanying document

Capital Development Guidelines, Series 7, Fire Risk Management, August 2013 (external link, opens in a new window) (the relevant guidelines applicable for specific occupancy types for which the organisation has responsibility). The guidelines can be accessed on the Fire Risk Management procedures and guidelines web page (external link, opens in a new window).

Specifications

The organisation is required to make certain that the persons in its care are appropriately protected from risk from fire. This protection includes:

  • Premises - The premises must meet the requirements of the relevant Capital Development Guidelines, Series 7, Fire Risk Management, August 2013 (external link, opens in a new window) as amended from time to time) applicable to those premises*. The department will discuss the process of fire safety assessment and upgrade works and availability of funds (where this has not already been done) to meet these requirements.

    * in each case a reference to premises refers to those premises from which the service (which is subject to this service agreement) is provided.

  • Operational readiness - The organisation must ensure that appropriate operational readiness measures are developed, implemented and reviewed as a minimum in accordance with Australian Standards: AS 4083-2010, Planning for emergencies-Health care facilities as appropriate. This includes (but is not limited to) development of fire emergency management and evacuation procedures, training of staff to implement the procedures developed, and conducting regular drills.

    For organisations providing disability and/or placement and support residential services, operational readiness measures shall be in accordance with the department's fire and emergency response procedures and training framework (as amended from time to time). The framework can be accessed on the department's website (Publications section under the heading of Fire Risk Management, 'Fire and Emergency Response Procedures and Training Framework').

  • Maintenance of essential services - The organisation shall ensure that all Essential Safety Measures (including all fire safety equipment/systems) are adequately maintained in accordance with the Building Regulations.

    Completion of the Weekly checklist (Word 194 KB, opens in a new window) will assist in providing documentation to support completion of the annual Essential Safety Measures Report.

  • Client placement - The organisation must determine whether the premises are suitable for the clients to be evacuated safely, taking into account any fire safety systems installed, and the evacuation capacities of the client. Where any relevant change may affect a client's ongoing ability to evacuate safely, the suitability of the placement must be reassessed immediately and appropriate action taken as soon as possible.

Where the organisation does not select the clients, the organisation must still monitor any relevant changes that may affect the client's ongoing ability to evacuate safely, assess the suitability of the placement, and take appropriate action as soon as possible.

  • Fire Safety Certification - Fire Safety Certificate No. 5 (Word 80 KB, opens in a new window) must be returned by 1 September in the following financial year or by a date to be agreed between the agency and the department's assigned Local Engagement Officer (LEO) in the Agency Connections Team of the Division. This date will take into account any relevant upgrading works that are scheduled.

Hospital premises fire safety standard (Standard No. 6)

Application

Type of service:

A building, or part thereof, used on a 24-hour basis for medical, obstetrical or surgical care of four or more inpatients, including acute hospitals. May include disability (including respite), placement and support, mental health, drug and alcohol and residential services within a hospital.

Premises*:

Owned operated or funded by the department or an agency subject to a Service Agreement with the department.

Accompanying document

Capital Development Guidelines Series 7, Fire Risk Management, August 2013 (external link, opens in a new window) the relevant guidelines applicable for specific occupancy types for which the organisation has responsibility. The guidelines can be accessed on the Fire Risk Management procedures and guidelines web page (external link, opens in a new window).

Specifications

The organisation is required to make certain that the persons in its care are appropriately protected from risk from fire. This protection includes:

  • Premises - The premises must meet the requirements of the relevant Capital Development Guidelines, Series 7, Fire Risk Management, August 2013 (external link, opens in a new window)(as amended from time to time) applicable to those premises*. The department will discuss the process of fire safety assessment and upgrade works and availability of funds (where this has not already been done) to meet these requirements.

* In each case a reference to premises refers to those premises from which the service (which is subject to this service agreement) is provided.

  • Operational readiness – The organisation must ensure that appropriate operational readiness measures are developed, implemented and reviewed as a minimum in accordance with Australian Standards: AS 4083-2010, Planning for emergencies - Health care facilities and AS 3745-2010, Emergency Control Organisation and Procedures for Buildings as appropriate. This includes (but is not limited to) development of fire emergency management and evacuation procedures, training of staff to implement the procedures developed, and conducting regular drills.
  • Maintenance of Essential Safety Measures - The organisation shall ensure that all Essential Safety Measures (including all fire safety equipment/systems) are adequately maintained in accordance with the Building Act, Building Regulations.
  • Fire Safety Certification - Fire Safety Certificate No. 6 (Word 80 KB, opens in a new window) must be returned by 1 September in the following financial year or by a date to be agreed between the agency and the department. This date will take into account any relevant upgrading works that are scheduled.

For further information

Hank Van Ravenstein, Principal Manager, Fire Risk Management Unit
Telephone: (03) 9096 5381
Email: fireriskmanagementunit@dhhs.vic.gov.au

4.2 Asbestos risk management guidelines

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to organisations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Policy purpose

To ensure organisations funded by the department comply with Occupational Health and Safety Requirements.

Legislation and /or regulation

Organisation requirements

Current Asbestos Register

For further information

http://www.asbestos.vic.gov.au/ (external link, opens in a new window)

Managing Asbestos in Workplaces Compliance Code (external link, opens in a new window) provides information on how you can safely manage asbestos in your workplace

Removing Asbestos in Workplaces Compliance Code (external link, opens in a new window) provides information on how you can arrange for the safe removal of asbestos from your workplace.

Liz Stackhouse, Assistant Director, Asset Strategy, Infrastructure Planning and Delivery
Tel: (03) 9096 1312
Email: liz.stackhouse@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Education and Training

Department of Education and Training (DET) funded organisations that manage any type of workplace are required to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (the Act).

The employer and any person who has the management or control of a workplace (onsite managers), are responsible for the occupational health and safety requirements relating to that workplace. Sections 21 and 23 of the Act require employers and onsite managers to ensure that the workplace is safe for clients, visitors, volunteers, contractors and subcontractors who may enter or work at the site.

Part 4.3 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 (the OHS Regulations) requires employers and onsite managers to make reasonable efforts to identify any asbestos in the workplace. If asbestos is present, or is suspected to be present, both the employer and onsite manager must maintain an asbestos register. If practicable the asbestos must be removed, or alternatively enclosed and sealed, to reduce the risk associated with its presence.

Prior to the commencement of any demolition or refurbishment works, regulations 4.3.35 and 4.3.36 of the OHS Regulations require an employer and any other onsite manager to review and revise the asbestos register. The OHS Regulations also require reasonable efforts be made by the employer and onsite manager to remove asbestos before demolition (regulation 4.3.49) or during refurbishment works (regulation 4.3.40). 

It is the responsibility of the employer and the onsite manager to fully understand their legal obligations as per the requirements of the Act and Regulations.

Resources

http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/laws-and-regulations (external link, opens in a new window)

http://www.asbestos.vic.gov.au (external link, opens in a new window)

For further information

Andrew Major, Manager, Contracts and Procurement Unit, Standards and Planning Branch, Infrastructure and Sustainability, Infrastructure and Finance Services Group
Telephone: 03 9947 1836
Email: major.andrew.a@edumail.vic.gov.au

4.3 Incident reporting

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

The former Department of Human Services Critical Client Incident Management Instruction and the former Department of Health Incident Reporting Instruction applies to services directly delivered or funded by the Department of Health and Human Services including families and children, youth justice, housing and homelessness, disability services, alcohol and drug treatment services, mental health community support services, home and community care, aged care, carer support programs and registered community health centres providing community and women’s health programs.

Policy purpose

The instructions outline the management and reporting requirements for incidents or alleged incidents that involve or impact upon clients during service delivery.

Legislation and /or regulation

Nil

Organisation requirements

Reporting of client incidents as defined in the instructions is compulsory.

For critical client incident management and reporting applicable to the Department of Health and Human Services funded organisations, refer to incident management and reporting guidance relevant to the former Department of Human Services and the former Department of Health on the Funded Agency Channel's Incident reporting (external link, opens in a new window) web page.

For further information

Department of Health and Human Services (human services)

Karen Stewart, Acting Manager, Quality and Oversight, Safeguarding and Disability Supports Branch, Community Services Programs and Design Division
Telephone: (03) 9096 8018
Email: karen.stewart@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Health and Human Services (health)

Shane Quinn, Manager, Regions and Regional Strategy, Service Design and Operations Division
Telephone: (03) 9096 0506
Email: shane.quinn@dhhs.vic.gov.au 

Offence for failure to disclose child sexual abuse

The offence for failure to disclose child sexual abuse to the police came into effect on 27 October 2014.

Further information about the offence and how to report is available on the human services New criminal offences to improve responses to child sexual abuse (external link, opens in a new window) web page.

New offence for failure to protect children from the risk of sexual abuse

The new offence for 'failure to protect' a child from a risk of sexual abuse commenced on 1 July 2015.

A fact sheet about the offence is available to download from the human services New criminal offences to improve responses to child sexual abuse (external link, opens in a new window) web page. Alternatively, you can email childsafestandards@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Education and Training

Approved child care and licensed children’s services

Licensed Children's Services are required to comply with incident reporting requirements as set out in the relevant Acts and Regulations.

From 1 January 2012, the National Quality Framework applies to family day care, long day care, outside school hours care services and preschools (kindergartens) across Australia. These services must meet the requirements of the:

  • Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (National Law)
  • Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011 (National Regulations)

These services are referred to as education and care services.

All limited hours and short term licensed services, a small number of other services that currently hold a standard licence including budget-based services not funded for the Child Care Benefit, occasional care, early childhood intervention, and mobile services, and a small number of school holiday care programs, will continue to be required to operate under the

  • Victorian Children’s Services Act 1996 (Victorian Act)
  • Victorian Children’s Services Regulations 2009 (Victorian Regulations)

Other Early Childhood Services and Programs

Other Early Childhood Services and Programs do not operate under the National Quality Framework or the Children’s Services Act 1996.  They include the Aboriginal Early Years Services, Early Childhood Intervention Services, access and participation to funded kindergarten program and services including Access to Early Learning, Maternal and Child Health Services, Parenting Services, Best Start and the Children’s Facilities Capital Program. 

Reporting Incidents

Funded organisations are required to call the Early Childhood Performance and Planning Adviser (PAPA) in the Regional Offices (external link, opens in a new window), if:

  • the occurrence of an incident is not within the scope of the department’s Quality Assessment and Regulatory Division’s (QARD) framework; or
  • the incident occurred in a service or program that is outside QARD’s scope; or
  • the incident occurred in the provision of Other Early Childhood Services and Programs.

Funded organisations and the relevant PAPA will discuss the appropriate reporting process and response, on a case by case basis.  For more information, refer to the former Department of Human Service web page on Critical client incident reporting (external link, opens in a new window).

Offences relating to the sexual abuse of children

The following criminal offences were introduced to improve responses within organisations and the community to child sexual abuse.

DET staff and all staff associated with organisations funded by DET should be aware of, and comply with relevant legislation, standards, screening and program requirements, and policies on preventing, reporting and responding to child sexual abuse.

Offence for failure to disclose child sexual abuse

The offence for failure to disclose child sexual abuse to the police came into effect on 27 October 2014.

Offence for failure to protect children from the risk of sexual abuse

The offence for 'failure to protect' a child from a risk of sexual abuse commenced on 1 July 2015.

Further information about these offences and the reporting process are available on the former Department of Human Services’ New criminal offences to improve responses to child sexual abuse (external link, opens in a new window) web page. 

Alternatively, you can email childsafestandards@dhhs.vic.gov.au

For further information

Florence Kaur, Senior Policy Officer, System Quality Unit,  Strategy and Integration Division, Early Childhood and School Education Group
Telephone: 03 9651 3242
Email: kaur.florence.g@edumail.vic.gov.au

4.4 Responding to allegations of physical or sexual assault

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

The Responding to allegations of physical or sexual assault instruction applies to services directly delivered or funded by the Department of Health and Human Services including families and children, youth justice, housing and homelessness, disability services, alcohol and drug treatment services, mental health community support services, home and community care, aged care, carer support programs and registered community health centres providing community and women’s health programs.

Policy purpose

  • To outline the immediate response requirements for all services directly delivered or funded by the Department of Health and Human Services in response to an allegation of physical of sexual assault that involves a client.
  • The aims of the instruction are to:
    • ensure timely and effective responses are taken to address immediate client safety and well being
    • support clients who have experienced physical or sexual assault
    • be accountable to clients for actions taken immediately and planned in response to their experience of an assault
    • ensure due diligence and responsibilities to clients are met
    • hold perpetrators of physical and sexual assault accountable for their actions

Legislation and /or regulation

Nil

Organisation requirements

All service providers who are funded or directly deliver services to Department of Health and Human services clients must follow the requirements outlined in the Responding the allegations of physical or sexual assault following an allegation of physical or sexual assault that involves a client.

The former Department of Human Services instruction on Responding to allegations of physical or sexual assault and the Quality of Support Review guideline must be read in conjunction with the former Department of Human Services Critical client incident management instruction.

These instructions and guideline (as well as other related information) are available on the Funded Agency Channel website at http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/funded-agency-channel/about-service-agreements/incident-reporting (external link, opens in a new window).

For further information

Department of Health and Human Services (human services)

Karen Stewart, Acting Manager, Quality and Oversight, Safeguarding and Disability Supports branch, Community Services Programs and Design division
Telephone: (03) 9096 8018
Email: karen.stewart@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Health and Human Services (health)

Shane Quinn, Manger, Regions and Regional Strategy, Service Design and Operations Division
Telephone: (03) 9096 0506
Email: shane.quinn@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Offence for failure to disclose child sexual abuse

The offence for failure to disclose child sexual abuse to the police came into effect on 27 October 2014.

Further information about the offence and how to report is available on the human services New criminal offences to improve responses to child sexual abuse (external link, opens in a new window) web page.

New offence for failure to protect children from the risk of sexual abuse

The new offence for 'failure to protect' a child from a risk of sexual abuse commenced on 1 July 2015.

A fact sheet about the offence is available to download from the human servicesNew criminal offences to improve responses to child sexual abuse (external link, opens in a new window) web page. Alternatively, you can email childsafestandards@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Education and Training

The former Department of Human Services' policy in relation to allegations of physical and sexual assault applies to all Department of Education and Training (DET) funded organisations.

In responding to allegations of physical or sexual assault, refer to the former Department of Human Services' instructions and other relevant information on the Incident Reporting web page at:
http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/funded-agency-channel/about-service-agreements/incident-reporting

Further resources:

Child Safe Standards

The Child Safe Standards are compulsory minimum standards for all funded organisations, licensed and approved early childhood services and Victorian schools.  The Child Safe Standards require organisations to take steps to create a culture of child safety and protect children from all forms of abuse and neglect.

The Child Safe Standards formally commenced on 1 January 2016 and there is an initial focus on capacity building and support for organisations.

Further information for early childhood services operating under the National Quality Framework or Children's Services Act 1996 is available on the Child Safe Standards regulatory page or by
Phone: 1300 307 415.
Email: licensed.childrens.services@edumail.vic.gov.au

Other organisations providing services for children can contact the Department of Health and Human Services for further information:
Phone: (03) 9096 0000.
Email: childsafestandards@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Resources

Child Safe Standards http://www.vrqa.vic.gov.au/childsafe/Pages/default.aspx (external link, opens in a new window) and The Child Safe Standards http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/health/Pages/childsafe.aspx (external link, opnes in a new window)

Offences relating to the sexual abuse of children

The following criminal offences were introduced to improve responses within organisations and the community to child sexual abuse.

DET staff and all staff associated with organisations funded by DET should be aware of, and comply with relevant legislation, standards, screening and program requirements, and policies on preventing, reporting and responding to child sexual abuse.

Offence for failure to disclose child sexual abuse

The offence for failure to disclose child sexual abuse to the police came into effect on 27 October 2014.

Offence for failure to protect children from the risk of sexual abuse

The new offence for 'failure to protect' a child from a risk of sexual abuse commenced on 1 July 2015.

Further information about these offence and the reporting process are available on the former Department of Human Services’ New criminal offences to improve responses to child sexual abuse (external link, opens in a new window) web page. Alternatively, you can email childsafestandards@dhhs.vic.gov.au 

For further information

Manager, Student Incident and Recovery Unit, Emergency Management Division, Regional Services Group
Telephone: (03) 9637 2934
Email: siru@edumail.vic.gov.au

4.5 Compliment and complaint management

Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services (the department) is committed to listening to and responding to compliments and complaints. This important feedback informs the development and delivery of policies, programs and services that support and enhance the well-being of all Victorians. 

The department aims to ensure services provided and funded, are effective and responsive to the people accessing them and therefore encourages transparent feedback processes.

Who does this policy apply to?

The policy is specifically designed for use by organisations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Policy purpose

The purpose of the policy is to assist organisations in establishing or reviewing their existing practical frameworks relating to complaints and other forms of feedback. Organisations can adapt the sample compliment and complaint management policy document to meet their specific needs.

Legislation and/or regulation

Some organisations funded by the department are subject to specific legislative requirements and policy frameworks governing their approach to complaints management, for example the Disability Act 2006, Mental Health Act 2014, National Health Safety and Quality Standards. Organisations should ensure that they are fully informed of these requirements and they comply with them.

Client Services and Complaints Charter

The department has additional information, including a brochure, on the department's Client Services Charter (external link, opens in a new window) web page.   

Organisation requirements

It is important that all compliments and complaints are managed in line with the departments’ guiding principles of visibility and accessibility, responsiveness, assessment and investigation, feedback, improvement focussed and service excellence.

Compliments and complaints related to funded organisation services should be handled by the funded organisation in the first instance. Funded organisations must have an accessible, responsive and transparent compliments, complaints and feedback framework to ensure continuous improvement.

Each funded organisation needs to decide how their compliments, complaints and feedback framework will work most effectively in the context of their service delivery while adhering to the departments’ principles.

What is a complaint?

The departments’ definition of a complaint is taken from the Australian Standard AS ISO 10002-2014 Customer Satisfaction – Guidelines for Complaints Handling in Organisations.  A complaint is defined as ‘an expression of dissatisfaction made to or about an organisation, related to its products, services, staff or the handling of a complaint, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected’.

What is a compliment?

A compliment is an expression of praise, encouragement or gratitude about a service that is funded, regulated or provided. It may be about an individual staff member, a team or a service.

Sample compliment and complaint management policy

A generic sample compliment and complaint management policy document is specifically designed for use by funded organisations. This is provided to assist organisations in establishing or reviewing their existing practical frameworks relating to compliments, complaints and other forms of feedback. Organisations can adapt the sample compliment and complaint management policy document to meet their specific needs. The sample and template documents include:

For further information

The Department of Health and Human Services, Complaints and Privacy Unit provide support and assistance in the management and development of complaints policies, guidelines and processes. 

The Complaints and Privacy Unit provides a complaints line for departmental staff, clients and members of the public to register their feedback and complaints.

Complaints line: 1300 884 706
Email: complaints.reception@dhhs.vic.gov.au
Complaints and Privacy Unit
GPO Box 4057
Melbourne VIC 3001

The department's website includes a guide to Making a complaint to the Department of Health and Human Services (external link, opens in a new window).

Department of Education and Training

The Department of Education and Training (DET) is committed to listening to and responding to compliments and complaints. This important feedback informs the development and delivery of policies, programs and services that support and enhance the educational opportunities provided to Victorians.

DET aims to ensure funded services are effective and responsive to the needs of children and families, and therefore it encourages transparent feedback processes.

Guiding principles

The DET Complaints Charter (external links, opens in a new window) sets out guiding principles that should be followed by funded organisations when responding to complaints. It includes a requirement to act respectfully, impartially, to maintain confidentiality and to keep the complainant informed of the progress of inquiries, among other things.

Complaints about approved child care and licenced children’s services

The Quality Assessment and Regulation Division (QARD) is responsible for ensuring that approved providers safeguard the safety, health and wellbeing of children in kindergarten, long day care, family day care and outside school hours care.

QARD also regulates other services which continue to operate under the Children’s Services Act 1996, mostly offering occasional care.

Resources

Contact details

Regions: Quality Assessment and Regulation Regional Offices (Word 765 KB, opens in a new window)
Telephone: 1300 307 415
Email:  licensed.childrens.services@edumail.vic.gov.au

Complaints about other Early Childhood Services and Programs

Other Early Childhood Services and Programs do not operate under the National Quality Framework or the Children’s Services Act 1996.  They include the Aboriginal Early Years Services, Early Childhood Intervention Services, access and participation to funded kindergarten program and services including Access to Early Learning, Maternal and Child Health Services, Parenting Services, Best Start and the Children’s Facilities Capital Program. 

For further information, refer to Complaints about Other Early Childhood Services and Programs (external link, opens in a new window).

Contact details:

Regions: contact the Early Childhood Performance and Planning Advisers in the Regional Offices (external link, opens in a new window)

Email: community.stakeholders@edumail.vic.gov.au

Sample compliment and complaint management policy

A generic sample compliment and complaint management policy document, is specifically designed for use by funded organisations. This is provided to assist organisations in establishing or reviewing their existing practical frameworks relating to compliments, complaints and other forms of feedback. Organisations can adapt the sample compliment and complaint management policy document to meet their specific needs. The sample and template documents include:

4.6 Safety screening for funded organisations

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

  • The sections immediately below (unless stated otherwise) are for organisations which receive funding from the former Department of Human Services and Department of Health which has now merged into the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
  • Note: Further updates may be required for this document. Always refer to this document online to ensure you have the most current version.

Policy purpose

  • Safety screening incorporates referee checks and the police record check. It may also include a Working with Children Check (if relevant to the role), a check against the Disability Worker Exclusion List (DWEL), a Disqualified Carer Check, Employment History Check (including disciplinary action disclosure and checks of qualification and training).
  • Safety screening plays an important role in providing a safer service delivery for people who receive support from community services organisations funded or registered by various departments within Victoria. The overarching imperative of the policy is to strengthen the protections and safeguards for people through a rigorous approach to managing employment safety screening.

Legislation and /or regulation

  • Relevant legislation is flagged in the pertinent sections of the policy.

Overview of safety screening

Safety screening is not a means of precluding people with an adverse history from employment within funded or registered organisations. The relevance of any adverse history is assessed strictly in relation to the work environment and job role. All of these checks are undertaken in strict compliance with the privacy and confidentiality principles as required by relevant legislation.

Safety screening does not completely eliminate the risk of employing unsuitable staff, however, it is designed to minimise that risk on the basis of available, relevant information. Employment safety screening will not detect ‘unsuitable’ employees unless the employee has a police record or if referees know of their background.

Note: Future risks are not mitigated by one-off safety screening at recruitment and it is prudent for funded or registered organisations and authorised agencies (refer to Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme (external link, opens in a new window) for an explanation of authorised agencies) to incorporate a statement in their employment agreements confirming that all staff are obligated to:

  • advise their manager if they are charged with a criminal offence which is punishable by imprisonment or, if found guilty, could reasonably affect their ability to meet the inherent requirements of their job; and 
  • disclose any formal disciplinary action taken against them by any current or former employer (many staff have multiple employers). This includes any finding of improper or unprofessional conduct by any Court or Tribunal of any kind and any investigations that the staff member has been subject of by an employer, law enforcement agency or any integrity body or similar in Australia or in another country.

It is also prudent for funded or registered organisations and authorised agencies to ask prospective workers to sign a statutory declaration with the content below stating that they have fully disclosed to their prospective employer, all relevant information regarding their criminal record and employment history. Refer to Appendix 1a Safety screening statutory declaration (Word 72 KB, opens in new window).

By way of this statutory declaration, they are declaring that they have fully disclosed in writing to the organisation, all details of:

  • any charges laid against them by police concerning any offence committed in Australia or in another country in the past
  • any offence of which they have been found guilty, committed in Australia or in another country in the past
  • any formal disciplinary action taken against them by any current or former employer
  • any finding of improper or unprofessional conduct by them by any Court or Tribunal of any kind
  • any investigations they have been the subject of by an employer, law enforcement agency or any integrity body or similar in Australia or in another country.

They should also ensure that a copy of their responses to the above issues (which they provided to the organisation as part of the recruitment process to a position within the organisation) is attached.

Alternatively a statement to this effect could be included in the contract of employment paperwork.

When to apply this policy

The DHHS in its role as employer, regulator and funder is committed to providing quality services to vulnerable clients in a safe environment. The department requires that funded organisations include safety screening pre-employment/pre-placement police record checks in their recruitment processes to minimise the risk of employing unsuitable people. Safety screening may also include conducting checks against the DWEL or a Working with Children Check, where relevant, please refer to the relevant section within this policy.

Below is a list of circumstances or persons where a police record check is required. The circumstances include either actual unsupervised contact with the specified client and patient categories listed previously, or the potential for such unsupervised contact.

Note: An offer of employment or placement in direct care/patient areas cannot occur until the completed police record check and any referee checks have been assessed by the funded organisation.

Organisations should adopt this listing and include the owner/s and/or proprietor/s, their representatives, board members and any other staff who, because of their role, would have unsupervised access, or the potential for access, to the specified staff, client or patient categories:

(a) a prospective manager within the organisation, directly managing services to the specified client or patient categories;

(b) a prospective direct contact employee, caregiver, volunteer or student to be placed within the organisation to provide services to the specified client and patient categories;

(c) labour hires to be placed within the organisation to provide services to the specified client and patient categories;

(d) existing organisation employees not already working in direct care areas prior to their promotion or transfer into jobs in client or patient contact areas;

(e) any casual or relieving staff where there is contact with the specified client and patient categories;

(f) primary caregiver - those who are in a position of trust and responsibility with clients or patients from the specified categories. Caregivers include but are not limited to: foster parents, private board providers, home board providers, Interchange families, Adolescent Community Placement caregivers, Cottage Parent spouses/partners, co-habiters in foster care, private board, Adolescent Community placements, Family Options caregivers, lead tenants, all adult cohabiters in home based and residential care (including spouses/partners and children aged 18 and over), and other providers of home based care funded through Protective Services and/or SAAP;

(g) volunteers, including those volunteers used during strike action; and

(h) any labour hire who is contracted to provide services in the organisation's facilities where there is contact with the specified client and patient categories, such as security staff and cleaners (see Use of Labour Hire Staff).

Other employees not involved in direct or patient contact may be required to undergo a police record check where the manager certifies that the job requires consideration of any police record check before approving employment.

Specified client categories for the DHHS

All funded organisations and all authorised agencies that provide services to specified client categories for the DHHS (as listed below) are required to comply with this policy (see Use of Labour Hire Staff for additional related information):

(a) any person under the age of 21 years who is subject to an order of the court of Victoria which relates to their care or protection;

(b) any person under the age of 18 years who is subject to a protective intervention report, investigation or involvement by Child Protection, DHHS; 

(c) any person who is subject to an order of the Children's Court or subject to guardianship, following a protection application;

(d) any person under 18 years to be placed for adoption by DHHS;

(e) any person under 18 years who receives a residential or home based care or other service funded through Child Protection and/or Supported Accommodation and Assistance Program (SAAP), DHHS;

(f) any person who has a disability as defined by the Disability Act 2006;

(g) any person who receives accommodation support services provided to groups in community based settings and residential institutions;  

(h) any person who receives public rental housing services under the Housing Act 1983;

(i) any other such client or patient of DHHS or an organisation funded by DHHS who receives direct care services;

(j) any person who receives care or treatment for a mental illness though a public mental health service or psychiatric disability and rehabilitation support service funded through the State government;

(k) any person who receives services through Specialist Children's Services in the Child and Family Health Program;

(l) any person who receives services under the Home and Community Care (HACC) program;

(m) any person who receives treatment through the Dental Health Program and the Tuberculosis (TB) Program;

(n) any person defined as a patient under the Alcohol and Drug Dependent Persons Act (Section 28 Sentencing Act);

(o) any aged or infirm person who receives in-home services.

Pre-employment safety screening checks

Pre-employment safety screening checks involves the following tasks:

  • Disability Worker Exclusion List check (applicable to disability residential care) (if required) 
  • Disqualified Carer check (also known as Carers’ Register – applicable to out-of-home-care of children)(if required) 
  • Employment history including disciplinary action disclosure 
  • Police record check (including Proof of identity check) 
  • Qualification check (if relevant) 
  • Confirmation of a Working With Children Check (WWCC) card or WWCC receipt (if necessary) 
  • Referee Checks

See below for specific information relating to the above tasks. The information required for pre-employment safety screening is collected with an applicant’s informed consent.

A pre-employment safety screening checklist is provided at Appendix 2 Pre-employment safety screening checklist (Word 100 KB, opens in new window).

Disability Worker Exclusion List check (applicable to disability residential care)

The Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme (DWES) (external link, opens in a new window) is a new initiative from the Victorian Government designed to further protect the safety and wellbeing of Victorians living in disability group homes.

Disability service providers providing residential services within the meaning of the Disability Act 2006 and authorised agencies are required to comply with the DWES.

The DWES provides a mechanism to collect, store and use information about people who are unsuitable to work with clients in disability residential services. People who are found to be unsuitable are placed on the Disability Worker Exclusion List (DWEL) and are prevented from obtaining employment in disability residential services with the DHHS or an organisation funded or registered by the DHHS.

Refer to the ‘Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme Management Instruction (2014)’ for further information about the operation of the scheme. This instruction provides further information about the operation of the scheme and is available on the Department of Health and Human Services' Internet web page at www.dhs.vic.gov.au/disability-worker-exclusion-scheme (external link, opens in a new window). The pre-employment check form, notification form and standard letters can be found there.

Note: Funded or registered organisations are required to provide DHHS with notifications in respect of staff provided by labour hire agencies if they become aware that a worker may satisfy the criteria for placement on the DWEL. In addition, when giving notice to the DWES unit, the funded or registered organisation should also give notice of the notification or preliminary notification to the employing labour hire agency.

Also, note that ‘authorised’ labour hire agencies are those agencies that have been authorised to conduct checks against the Disability Worker Exclusion List and are not preferred providers of the department. The department does not endorse the use of ‘authorised’ agencies over other labour hire agencies.

Authorised agencies are required to comply with the requirements of the DWES including, but not limited to, the ‘Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme use of labour hire staff instruction for disability residential service providers (October 2014)’ (labour hire instruction) www.dhs.vic.gov.au/disability-worker-exclusion-scheme (external link, opens in a new window). This includes conducting annual checks of labour hire agency staff against the Disability Worker Exclusion List (see Use of Labour Hire Staff).

Use of Labour Hire Staff

Specific to Department of Health and Human Services

All organisations that are funded or registered by the DHHS must ensure that any labour hire agency staff (labour hire) engaged to work in their organisation have undergone the necessary safety screening checks outlined in this policy prior to the commencement of work regardless of their employment status.

The department recognises that labour hire agency staff are often employed in circumstances where conducting all of the necessary safety screening requirements may be difficult or impractical, for example, when there are last minute staff shortages. In order to meet the obligations under this policy funded or registered organisations can apply one of the following options when engaging labour hires.

Option 1: Undertake their own checks in respect of labour hires. Checks of labour hires against the Disability Worker Exclusion List (if required) must be conducted once every 12 months.

Option 2: Use an authorised labour hire agency that complies with the safety screening requirements outlined in this policy and undertakes all of the relevant safety screening checks of workers as outlined in this policy.

Labour hire agencies that are used by funded or registered organisations may apply to become authorised agencies. Generally, this will involve the agency satisfying the DHHS that it is aware of and understands the safety screening requirements as stipulated in this policy, and an undertaking to implement these requirements. If the department is satisfied that an agency is able to meet these requirements, that agency will be asked to enter into an agreement with the department.

Funded or registered organisations may engage staff from authorised labour hire agencies, and rely upon checks undertaken by these agencies in respect to a particular worker, provided that the following applies:

  • The labour hire agency must be named as being an authorised agency at the time of placement. A list of authorised labour hire agencies can be found at www.dhs.vic.gov.au/disability-worker-exclusion-scheme (external link, opens in a new window)
  • The funded or registered organisation must receive written confirmation from the labour hire agency prior to the first occasion that the temporary worker is placed with that organisation specifying:
    • that the requirements of the safety screening policy have been met and the date when screening took place, including when the results of a police record check was received and the outcome of that check;
    • the worker is aware of and has consented to their participation in the Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme (if required);
    • the date when the worker’s name was checked against the Disability Worker Exclusion List and confirmation was received from the unit that the worker’s name was not on the list (if required);
    • that the labour hire agency is not aware of any notifications or preliminary notification to the Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme Unit, and that the agency consents, and the worker has given consent, to the funded or registered organisation notifying the unit in respect of a worker if they become aware of circumstances requiring a notification under the scheme (if required).

Suggested proformas from a labour hire agency to a funded or registered organisation confirming the labour hire agency’s compliance can be found at Appendix 3 Suggested proforma confirmation for labour hire agency (opens in new window, Word 70 KB) and Appendix 4 Suggested proforma annual confirmation from labour hire agency following initial placement (opens in new window, Word 64 KB).

Where funded or registered organisations have service agreements in place with labour hire agencies, it may be necessary for those agreements to be amended to ensure compliance with this safety screening policy.

Use of Labour Hire Staff for Residential Care Services for children and young people

Funded organisations engaging labour hires for residential care services for children and young people must ensure that the interview panel chairperson conducts referee checks on competitive labour hire applicants after interviews have been conducted.  The funded organisation must ask all referees to provide comments on the suitability of the applicant to work directly with children, including the possibility of the applicant working alone with one or more children.

The funded organisation must complete the following pre-employment check process before the labour hire commences providing residential care services for them:

(a) obtain and make copies of the following documents relating to the labour hire:

  • current Australian Drivers Licence (cite licence number and expiry date);
  • a current Working with Children Check (cite number and expiry date);
  • a national Police Check (current within the past 12 months) compliant with the requirements of this policy including evidence that a conversation has taken place with the relevant departmental Area Director regarding the employment or engagement of the labour hire where the Police Check reveals a disclosable record; and
  • a current international Police Check where required;

(b) obtain from the labour hire a current signed original pre-existing injury or disease declaration in accordance with section 82(7) of the Accident Compensation Act 1985 (Vic), to be held on file by the funded organisation; and

(c) having obtained from the labour hire a fully informed signed written declaration granting permission for such disclosure, provide to the Program Manager of the funded organisation:

  • details of any quality of care concerns known to the funded organisation regarding the conduct of the labour hire; and
  • the following details of the labour hire as required to complete an out-of-home-care Disqualified Carer Check and update the DHHS’ register of out-of-home carers:
    • name (including maiden names, aliases and any other names the labour hire has been known by);
    • date of birth;
    • current address;
    • whether the labour hire is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent; and
    • gender.

The funded organisation will maintain securely stored records on these matters for each Labour Hire Contract Worker to be engaged to provide residential care services for their organisation (see Appendix 6 Record Storage and Destruction  opens in a new window).

Out-of-Home Care Disqualified Carer Check and Carer Registration

The Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (the Act) aims to increase protection for children in out-of-home care. The Act also requires the department to keep a register (the Carer Register) of all foster carers, residential carers (including permanent, part-time, casual and temporary agency staff) and providers of services to children at an out-of-home residence. Registered out-of-home care services have authorised access to the Carer Register.

The Act requires that a Disqualified Carer Check must be conducted and cleared prior to an out-of-home carer being approved, employed or engaged by an out-of-home care service. The service must then register the out-of-home carer on the Carer Register within 14 days. The Act allows for penalties to be applied if the Disqualified Carer Check process is not followed.

Funded or registered organisations must comply with the departmental policy 'Engaging labour hire residential care staff in out-of-home care services' found at http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/about-the-department/documents-and-resources/policies,-guidelines-and-legislation/labour-hire-procedures. These procedures specify roles and responsibilities to be adopted by funded or registered organisations and the labour hire agencies they engage in order to implement relevant legislation, regulations, policies and practices in Victoria for recruiting and selecting contract workers, their registration as carers, and their engagement in out-of-home residential care services for children and young people.

For further information about the Disqualified Carer Check process or the Carer Register, email the Department of Health and Human Services' Service Outcomes Unit Carer.Register@dhhs.vic.gov.au 

Employment History (including disciplinary action disclosure)

It is prudent to require prospective employees to disclose any formal disciplinary action taken against them by any current or former employer (many workers have multiple employers). This includes any finding of improper or unprofessional conduct by any Court or Tribunal of any kind and any investigations that the prospective employee has been subject of by an employer, law enforcement agency or any integrity body or similar in Australia or in another country.

Police record check (including Proof of Identity)

Police record checks (sometimes referred to as criminal record checks), identify and release relevant criminal history information, at a point in time, using information held by police in Victoria and other states and territories relating to convictions, findings of guilt or pending court proceedings.

Establishing the identity of an applicant is critical to ensuring any police history information identified through a police record check belongs to the correct person. Therefore, the applicant must complete a police check form giving their consent to have their police history checked. This form also contains the Proof of identity check.

It is prudent to establish proof of identity when the applicant presents for interview to streamline and expedite the process. Applicants should be advised that their documentation will be processed where they are deemed competitive but will be otherwise destroyed.

Police record checks are not required for persons aged sixteen years or younger; however referee checks should be conducted. Teachers, parents and others who personally know the individual should act as referees and the credentials of any referees should be verified.

Recurrent police checks

Police record checks must be conducted at least once every three years for foster carers, lead tenants and all adult members (aged 18 years or over) of their households and for direct care employees of funded organisations that provide out of home care. If a police check on an applicant for employment as a residential carer reveals a disclosable court outcome, the funded organisation is required to notify the relevant department of their intention to employ the carer. Refer to the section ‘Results of the police record check - disclosable court outcome’ below.

Student placements

For students aged 17 years or younger, police checks are not required, however referee checks with teachers, parents or other adults who personally know the students must be undertaken. A referee’s credentials can be verified by sighting official letterhead stationery or an email containing an official signature block or sent from an organisation’s server.

A police check is required for students aged 18 years and older. These checks are administered by the relevant course coordinator in the educational institute or the student can obtain a police check through the Victoria Police website. Police record checks should be undertaken prior to the confirmation of the first placement and in each subsequent year of study. The student has the responsibility to notify the educational institution and the organisation of any change to the student's police record check status during the course year.

The educational institution's course coordinator must ensure that students are notified of the DHHS’ information collection requirements. The course coordinator must also explain the implications of consenting to a police record check and that refusal to undergo a police record check will mean that a placement cannot proceed.

For international students or students who have resided in an overseas country for 12 months or more in the last ten years, as they are only here for a short period, the usual requirement for obtaining an international police check is waived. However, they must complete a Statutory Declaration (refer to Appendix 1b Safety screening statutory declaration student placements (opens in new window, Word 71 KB). By way of this statutory declaration, they are declaring that they do not have:

  • any charges laid against them by police concerning any offence committed in Australia or in another country in the past
  • any offence of which they have been found guilty, committed in Australia or in another country in the past.

International police checks

Applicants must be informed at the beginning of the recruitment processes that if they have resided continuously in an overseas country for 12 months or more in the last ten years, they should contact the relevant overseas police force to obtain a criminal or police record check. This is not applicable if they were travelling through, for example, backpacking and only staying in some countries for very short periods. Victoria Police and CrimTrac do not conduct international police checks, although some CrimTrac accredited broker agencies may do so. If they were a minor when they were overseas, they do not require an international police check.

Some countries will not release information regarding an individual for personal or third party purposes. In these extenuating cases, where an international police records check cannot be obtained, a statutory declaration and character reference checks must be conducted with at least two individuals who personally knew the individual while they were residing in the other country. This should be undertaken as a very last resort if the international police check is actually unavailable and cannot be obtained.

The applicant must be informed that referees will be asked whether they have knowledge or information concerning the applicant, which would adversely affect the applicant from performing the job, including any relevant criminal offences. The credentials of persons acting as referees must be verified and can include previous employers, government officials and family members.

Overseas applicants should not commence employment until this process is satisfactorily completed and this decision should be signed off by the relevant funded organisation manager.

In the case of asylum seekers and refugees who may be unable to provide character references to accompany a statutory declaration, the statutory declaration will suffice with proof of status.  However, eligibility to work should be confirmed as part of the recruitment process by the funded organisation using the Department of Immigration & Border Protection’s Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) checking system at http://www.border.gov.au/Busi/Visa (external link, opens in a new window) or their faxback service.

Obtaining a police check

DHHS does not organise police record checks for funded/registered organisations (except in emergency situations - see below).

Police record checks can be obtained directly from Victoria Police http://www.police.vic.gov.au (external link, opens in a new window) or through an authorised service or agency accredited by CrimTrac. CrimTrac is the national information sharing service for Australia's police, law enforcement and national security agencies. A list of agencies accredited by CrimTrac can be found at: http://www.crimtrac.gov.au/national_police_checking_service/index.html (external link, opens in a new window)

Cost of police record checks

Current information on the cost of obtaining a police record check through Victoria Police can be obtained from the Victoria Police website http://www.police.vic.gov.au (external link, opens in a new window). Applicants and organisations conducting police record checks may be able to access reduced fees for checks on volunteers and students on placement. Refer to the Victoria Police website for more information.

Some authorised service providers, such as CrimTrac accredited agencies, may also offer reduced fees for volunteers http://www.crimtrac.gov.au/national_police_checking_service/index.html (external link, opens in a new window).

Prior to lodging a police record check

Funded or registered organisations and authorised agencies (with client/patient categories identified as above) must inform applicants that a police record check will be conducted if the applicant is competitive.

Requests for police record checks can only be submitted if the individual's written consent has been obtained. Written consent is obtained when the individual completes the relevant consent form provided by Victoria Police or the CrimTrac accredited agency.

If the organisation is conducting police record checks through a CrimTrac accredited agency, the funded/registered organisation should ensure that they provide applicants with relevant information as outlined by the accredited agency.

Lodging a police check

Procedures for lodging a police record check can be obtained from Victoria Police http://www.police.vic.gov.au (external link, opens in a new window) or the CrimTrac accredited agency providing the police record check service.

Emergency police record checks

The DHHS will conduct police record checks for funded/registered organisations only in emergency situations.

Emergency situations include those where client or patient contact is an immediate urgent issue (such as short term, emergency placement of children with extended family members or friends or for assessing volunteers being used in strike situations). The emergency check process should only be used in genuine emergencies and not as a solution to the late submission of police record check requests as there are limits on the number of emergency checks that can be conducted.

The emergency checks are to be arranged through the relevant Department of Health and Human Services' Regional Employment Police Record Checks Coordinator. The department will invoice organisations for any emergency checks conducted on their behalf, except where the department would normally reimburse these costs.

Results of the police record check

Information released as part of a police record check is restricted according to the relevant legislation or release policies operating in the specific police jurisdiction. Refer to the Victoria Police website for more information http://www.police.vic.gov.au (external link, opens in a new window).

Results of the police record check - no disclosable court outcome

Where the police record check of the competitive applicant, volunteer or student reveals no disclosable court outcomes, outstanding charges or other matters the appointment may be confirmed (an offer of employment or placement can be made).

Results of the police record check - disclosable court outcome

An applicant should not automatically be precluded from a job or placement on the basis of having a police record.

However, in line with Victorian Department of Health and Human Services‘ Child Protection Manual, if a person’s national police history includes a Category A offence, further steps ned to be taken. The individual should not be engaged in any client contact role if their criminal history includes a Category A offence without the written approval of the Director of the Office of Professional Practice (located at the department’s head office, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne) and the Divisional Deputy Secretary.

A person whose criminal history includes a Category A offence must not be permitted to enter or remain within the household while a child protection client is placed there unless written endorsement has been obtained from the Director of the Office of Professional Practice (located at the department’s head office, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne).

In all other cases, the relevant manager in the funded/registered organisation will manage the assessment process in order to determine the applicant's suitability for employment or placement (refer to Appendix 5 Safety screening assessment instructions and form)(opens in a new window, Word 112 KB).

The funded/registered organisation manager will ensure that:

(a) the applicant, student or volunteer confirms that the details of the disclosable record are correct (if there is a dispute, refer to the Victoria Police website and search for Criminal History Information Dispute process);

(b) assessment of the disclosable record of the applicant, volunteer or student is made in accordance with the assessment criteria detailed below. N.B. there should be no mention of the actual offence in the assessment form;

(c) before employment is formally offered, a discussion occurs with the relevant DHHS Area Director/regional senior program manager about the intention to employ an individual with such a record. The departmental representative cannot direct or make the decision to employ, but should provide their opinion regarding any decision the organisation makes (in line with principles outlined). A list of relevant DHHS Area Directors is available on the Funded Agency Channel http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/funded-agency-channel/spotlight/popular-links-and-systems/about-the-department-of-health-and-human-services (external link, opens in a new window).

(d) following the discussion, the DHHS Area Director should send an email to the manager of the funded/registered organisation to confirm the outcome of the discussion, including the funded organisation manager's decision to either employ or not employ the individual (without reference to the details of the disclosable record); and

(e) any decision made for or against a person is able to be justified and is fully documented.

The funded/registered organisation manager should give consideration to the following assessment criteria:

  • the relevance of the criminal offence, in relation to the job or placement
  • the nature of the offence and the relationship of the offence to the particular job or placement for which the applicant is being considered
  • the length of time since the offence took place
  • whether the person was convicted or found guilty and placed on a bond
  • whether there is evidence of an extended police record
  • the number of offences committed which may establish a pattern of behaviour which renders the applicant unsuitable
  • whether the offence was committed as an adult or a juvenile
  • the severity of punishment imposed
  • whether the offence is still a crime, that is, has the offence now been decriminalised
  • whether there are other factors that may be relevant for consideration, and
  • the person's general character since the offence was committed.

Where a funded/registered organisation's manager makes the decision not to take on an applicant, volunteer or student with a disclosable record, the funded/registered organisation manager must:

  • inform the unsuccessful applicant of the decision and its rationale
  • provide an opportunity for the unsuccessful applicant to discuss the results, and
  • inform the unsuccessful applicant of the opportunity for the decision to be reviewed.

Where a check demonstrates that a person has a disclosable record, a funded/registered organisation may also have obligations to report that outcome to the Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme Unit. Refer to the Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme Management Instruction (2014)available on the Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme (external link, opens in a new window) web page, for further information about this process.

Qualification check

If qualifications are a mandatory requirement of the role, original qualifications must be copied, certified as being a true copy of the original and dated by the relevant delegate then returned to the applicant.

If there are doubts about the qualification, the organisation or authorised agency should undertake an online check to verify that the qualification was awarded to the applicant. If an online check is not possible, the applicant should provide a letter from the registrar of the relevant institution confirming that the qualification was in fact awarded to the applicant. If there are any concerns about the authenticity of the qualification as presented, the issuing institution must be contacted directly to verify that the particular qualification was completed and issued to the relevant applicant on the date specified.

Working with Children Check

In 2006, the Victorian Government introduced a checking system which affects some people who work or volunteer with children. The Working with Children (WWC) Check helps to protect children from sexual or physical harm by checking a person's criminal history for serious sexual, violence or drug offences and findings from professional disciplinary bodies. The introduction of the WWC Check creates a mandatory minimum checking standard across Victoria. Note: Each state has their own process, they are not transferable interstate.  In Victoria a Victorian WWC Check is required.

Employers, self-employed persons, employees and volunteers all have obligations and responsibilities under the Working with Children Act 2005. By fulfilling these obligations, Victoria's children will be made safer through the effective operation of the WWC Check.
Funded and registered organisations are responsible for ensuring that their organisations comply with this legislation and, in particular that:

  • all employees, labour hires, volunteers or students 18 years or over who are required to obtain a WWC Check, do so
  • employees or volunteers issued with a Negative Notice do not undertake child-related work as defined by the Working With Children Act 2005.
  • periodically go to the Department of Justice WWC Check website and check the status of all employees and volunteers with WWC Check cards using Check Status function.

If the employees and volunteers of funded/registered organisations require a WWC Check, they must:

  • show their Application Receipt to their employer or volunteer organisation upon request as evidence that they have submitted an application
  • present their WWC Check card to their employer or volunteer organisation on request or when applying for child-related work
  • inform their employer or volunteer organisation within seven days if they have been issued with an Interim Negative Notice or Negative Notice, or if they have a relevant change in circumstances
  • not engage in child-related work if they have been issued with a Negative Notice
  • ensure the accuracy of their personal details and employer or volunteer organisation information through the use of the online MyCheck/Change of Details function on the Department of Justice WWC Check website.

For a full and complete list of all obligations or for further information refer to the Working with Children website at: www.justice.vic.gov.au/workingwithchildren (external link, opens in a new window).

From 1 July 2006, organisations receiving funding from the DHHS are responsible for ensuring that employees or volunteers undergo a Working with Children (WWC) Check if required. Section 9 of the Working with Children Act 2005 identifies which employees or volunteers require a WWC Check. The funded/registered organisation's contact details should be in the employer section in the WWC Check application form.

Referee checks

Referee checks are a mandatory component of recruitment as they provide the best opportunity to discover past behaviours and predict future behaviour in the workplace. They are an important part of the safety screening process. A minimum of two checks should be carried out to confirm the applicant's suitability, including contact with their most recent employer. Refer to the template example Safety screening referee check template (Word 55 KB, opens in a new window).

Funded or registered organisations and authorised agencies may also have obligations to report the outcome of a referee check to the Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme Unit.  Refer to the ‘Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme Management Instruction (2014)’ available on the Disability Worker Exclusion Scheme web page (opens in a new window) for further information about this process.

Note: An offer of employment or placement in direct care/patient areas cannot occur until the completed police record check and any referee checks have been assessed by the funded/registered organisation.

Storage of documentation and confidentiality

Information obtained as part of the safety screening process must be treated with the highest level of confidentiality and privacy in accordance with the relevant legislation and standards. Refer to Appendix 6 Record Storage and Destruction (Word 85 KB, opens in new window) for details.

For further information

Karen Heusner, Senior Policy Officer, HR Business Services, People and Culture Branch
Telephone: (03) 9096 2575
Email: safety.screening@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Education and Training

Overview of safety screening

Safety screening plays an important role in providing safer service delivery for children and families who receive services from organisations funded by the Department of Education and Training (DET).

Pre-employment safety screening checks

The pre-employment checks that a funded organisation must conduct on prospective employees will depend on the nature of the service provided by the organisation. The checks may include the following:

  • proof of identity;
  • employment history;
  • qualification check;
  • confirmation of a Working With Children Check (WWCC) or a current Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) registration;
  • criminal history check; and
  • referee checks.

All information required for pre-employment safety screening is collected with the applicant’s informed consent.

A pre-employment safety screening checklist (Word 100 KB, opens in a new window) is available from the Department of Health and Human Services' Service Agreement Information Kit's web page on Safety screeing for funded organisations.

Proof of Identity

As part of the pre-employment check, a funded organisation should seek 100 points of identification, confirming the prospective employee’s identity.

Working with Children Check

Any person doing ‘child-related work’, involving unsupervised direct contact with children, in Victoria, must hold a current Victorian WWCC. Funded organisations must ensure employees and volunteers hold a valid Victorian WWCC, where required.

All non-teaching school based employees in Victorian government schools are required by DET to have a WWCC even if their duties do not fit the definition of ‘child-related work’.

More information on the WWCC can be found at the Working with Children Check (external link, opens in a new window) website.

Student placements

Children aged 18 years or under are not required to hold a WWCC. However, funded organisations wishing to provide a work experience placement for a student should conduct referee checks with teachers, parents or other adults who personally know the student.

DET provides extensive resources on Work Experience (external link, opens in a new window) placements on the DET website.

Victorian Institute of Teaching Registration

A person who is employed as an early childhood teacher in a Victorian education and care service, or children’s service, must be registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT). VIT registration is renewed annually, and requires a current National Police History Check, which is valid for 5 years. A WWCC is not required where an employee is registered with VIT.

There are limited circumstances when VIT registration requirements may not apply. Contact the Regulatory Authority (external link, opens in a new window) for further information.

More information regarding VIT registration is available on the Victorian Institute of Teaching (external link, opens in a new window) website.

Criminal History

In addition to the WWCC, some funded organisations are required by law to perform criminal history checks on prospective employees. DET has produced fact sheets detailing the criminal history check requirements for the following providers:

Police record checks can be obtained directly from the Victoria Police (external link, opens in a new window) website or through an authorised service or agency accredited by CrimTrac. CrimTrac is the national information sharing service for Australia's police, law enforcement and national security agencies. A list of agencies accredited by CrimTrac can be found on the CrimTrac (external link, opens in a new window) website.

Qualification check

If qualifications are a mandatory requirement of the role, original qualifications must be copied, certified as being a true copy of the original and dated by the relevant delegate then returned to the applicant.

If there are any concerns about the authenticity of the qualification as presented, the issuing institution must be contacted directly to verify that the authenticity of the qualification.

Referee checks

Referee checks are an important part of the safety screening process. A minimum of two checks should be carried out to confirm the applicant's suitability, including contact with their most recent employer. Refer to the template Safety screening referee check template (Word 55 KB, opens in a new window).

Recording and Storage of Documentation

Information obtained as part of the safety screening process must be treated with the highest level of confidentiality in accordance with the relevant legislation and standards. Refer to the table Record Storage and Destruction (Word 85 KB, opens in a new window) for details.

Particular record keeping requirements apply to certain services. For more information, refer to the fact sheets below.

Statutory Declaration of Full Disclosure

Funded or registered organisations and authorised agencies should ask prospective employees to sign a statutory declaration, affirming that the prospective employee has fully disclosed any pending charges, convictions, disciplinary actions, findings of improper conduct, or any investigations to which they have been subject.

Alternatively a statement to this effect could be included in the contract of employment paperwork.

Ongoing disclosure

Future risks are not mitigated by one-off safety screening at recruitment. Funded organisations should incorporate a statement in their employment agreements requiring staff to inform their manager if the employee is:

  • charged with a criminal offence that could reasonably affect their ability to meet the inherent requirements of their job; or
  • subject to a formal disciplinary action by any current or former employer.

For further information

Megan Leuenberger, Principal Maternal Child Health Nurse Advisor, Wellbeing, Health and Engagement Division,
Phone: (03) 9651 3040
Email: leuenberger.megan.e@edumail.vic.gov.au

Alison Nuske, Senior Project Officer, Nursing Services Unit, Wellbeing, Health and Engagement Division,
Phone: (03) 9651 3473
Email: nuske.alison.j@edumail.vic.gov.au

4.7 Occupational health and safety

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to organisations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Policy purpose

To ensure organisations funded by the department comply with all required Victorian safety laws and applicable safety regulations.

Legislation and /or regulation

Organisation requirements

  • Maintain a safe workplace
  • Eliminate or minimise workplace hazards and risks associated with all hazards and risks
  • Provide and maintain safe systems of work
  • Provide adequate facilities for the welfare of employees
  • Monitor the health of employees and conditions of the working environment
  • Provide information, instruction, training and supervision to enable work to be performed safely 

An organisation entering into a Service Agreement must be aware of and able to provide an appropriate documented system to demonstrate compliance with its occupational health and safety obligations as employers under all relevant State and Federal law, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (the Act). Of particular note are sections 21(1), 21(2), 21(3), 22 and 23 of the Act.

Key to providing a safe work place is applying the principles of the Act. These are:

  1. The importance of health and safety requires that employees, other persons at work and members of the public be given the highest level of protection against risks to their health and safety that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.
  2. Persons who control or manage matters that give rise or may give rise to risks to health or safety are responsible for eliminating or reducing those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
  3. Employers and self-employed persons should be proactive, and take all reasonably practicable measures to ensure health and safety at workplaces and in the conduct of undertakings.
  4. Employers and employees should exchange information and ideas about risks to health and safety and measures that can be taken to eliminate or reduce those risks.
  5. Employees are entitled, and should be encouraged, to be represented in relation to health and safety issues.

Schedule 1 of the service agreement sets out the requirements of an organisation to comply with all State and Federal law relevant to its operation.

Information sheet

The department requires that all organisations have systems in place to manage their obligations and duty of care under the Act. Any organisational health and safety management system must be auditable to ensure compliance with the Act.

The following items list specific references regarding duties under the Act: 

Employer obligations (Sections 21, 22 and 23 Duties of Employers to Employees)

  • Section 21 covers the duties of employers toward their employees.
  • Section 21 (1) requires an employer to provide and maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable for employees, a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.
  • Section 21 (2) sets out specific duties as examples of what is necessary to comply with the general duty.
  • Section 21 (3) duties of employers are to employees including independent contractors and their employees. These duties are limited to matters over which the employer has, or should have, control, or would have had control but for any agreement between the employer and the independent contractor to the contrary.
  • Section 22 describes duties of employers to monitor health and conditions.
  • Section 23 an employer must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees of the employer are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of the undertaking of the employer.

Employee obligations (Section 25)

Employee obligations under the Act are covered in section 25. This requires that:

  • An employee must take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety and for the health and safety of anyone else who may be affected by his or her acts or omissions at the workplace, and to cooperate with his or her employer with respect to any action taken by the employer to comply with any requirements imposed by or under this Act. In addition, employees must not willfully or recklessly interfere with or misuse safety equipment that is provided. They must not willfully put at risk the health and safety of others.

Consultation (Part 4: Sections 35 (1 and 2) and 36 (1,2 and 3))

The Act clearly defines the duty of employers have to consult with health and safety representatives and/or staff on a range of OHS issues, including making decisions about risk controls, adequacy of facilities and any changes to the workplace, plant or conduct of work that may directly impact on the safety or health of employees.

Issue resolution (Section 73)

Section 73 of the Act requires the employer or their representative, and the employees affected by the issue, and/or a designated work group in relation to which the issue has arisen, to work to resolve the health and safety issues at that workplace.

The 'Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007' Part – 2.2 Issue Resolution Procedures, provides detail on parties to the resolution process, procedures for reporting issues and procedures for resolving issues.

A health and safety issue may include any:

  • item in the general duties section of the Act
  • hazard or potential hazard, and
  • procedural issue relating to health and safety which does not necessarily imply the existence of a health and safety dispute. Issues can be resolved through the prescribed procedure set out in the OHS Regulations Part 2.2, or through an agreed procedure, which provides a step-by-step process to enable the speedy and effective resolution of health and safety issues.

Manual handling

The 'Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007' Part 3.1 Manual Handling emphasise the identification, assessment, control and review of manual handling risks. All organisations should address their manual handling issues by (as a minimum) ensuring compliance to this part of the regulations.

Manual handling covers a wide range of activities including lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, throwing and carrying. It includes repetitive tasks such as packing, typing, assembling, cleaning and sorting, using hand-tools, and operating machinery and equipment.

Effective occupational health and safety management

An effective health and safety program will include managing key sector risks such as manual handling, occupational assault and stress. As a minimum, programs should contain:

  • specifically designated personnel to be responsible for occupational health and safety functions and activities
  • documented occupational health and safety policies and procedures, including safe work procedures and emergency procedures
  • appropriate training and information in health and safety for all staff
  • an established incident reporting and investigation process, including hazard identification and control mechanisms
  • appropriate consultative procedures, and
  • monitoring and review processes.

When developing an occupational health and safety program, refer to AS4801 and AS4804.

Duties relating to incidents - notification of incidents to WorkSafe Victoria (sections 37, 38 and 39)

Part 5 of the Act refers to the notification of incidents:

  • Section 37 defines the incidents to which part 5 applies
  • Section 38 explains the requirements of the 'Duty to notify', and
  • Section 39 describes the requirement to preserve the site.

Note: Relevant incident(s) must be reported to WorkSafe Victoria by calling 132 360, immediately after becoming aware of the incident. Written notification must be provided to WorkSafe Victoria within 48 hours.

A guide to the Act and advice - WorkSafe Victoria

A Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 can be obtained from the local WorkSafe Victoria office. WorkSafe Victoria also provides advice on all workplace health and safety issues. The contact telephone number is (03) 9641 1444. Toll free 1800 136 089.

WorkSafe Victoria website: www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/home (external link, opens in a new window)

Copies of Victorian Acts and Regulations can be purchased from Information Victoria on 1300 366 356.

For further information

Geoff Reany, Manager, OHS Operational Support
Telephone: (03) 9096 7575
Email:geoff.reany@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Education and Training

An organisation entering into a Service Agreement must be aware of and able to provide an appropriate documented system to demonstrate compliance with its occupational health and safety obligations under all relevant State and Federal law, including the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (the Act) and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 (OHS Regulations). Particularly relevant sections of the Act are 21(1), 21(2), 21(3), 22, 23, 26 and 32.

The principles of the Act are designed to provide a safe work place. These principles are as follows.

  • Employees, other persons at work and members of the public are given the highest level of protection against risks to their health and safety that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.
  • Persons who control or manage matters that give rise or may give rise to risks to health or safety are responsible for eliminating or reducing those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
  • Employers and self-employed persons should be proactive, and take all reasonably practicable measures to ensure health and safety at workplaces and in the conduct of undertakings.
  • Employers and employees should exchange information and ideas about risks to health and safety and measures that can be taken to eliminate or reduce those risks.
  • Employees are entitled, and should be encouraged, to be represented in relation to health and safety issues.

Schedule 1 of the Service Agreement sets out the requirements of an organisation to comply with all State and Federal law relevant to its operation.

Health and Safety Management System

The Department of Education and Training (DET) requires that all organisations have systems in place to manage their obligations and duty of care under the Act. Any organisational health and safety management system must be auditable to ensure compliance with the Act.

The following items list specific references regarding duties under the Act:

Employer obligations (Sections 21, 22 and 23 Duties of Employers to Employees)

  • Section 21 covers the duties of employers toward their employees.
  • Section 21 (1) requires an employer to provide and maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable for employees, a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.
  • Section 21 (2) sets out specific duties as examples of what is necessary to comply with the general duty.
  • Section 21 (3) duties of employers are to employees including independent contractors and their employees. These duties are limited to matters over which the employer has, or should have, control, or would have had control but for any agreement between the employer and the independent contractor to the contrary.
  • Section 22 describes duties of employers to monitor health and conditions.
  • Section 23 an employer must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees of the employer are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of the undertaking of the employer.

Employee obligations (Section 25)

Employees have obligations under the Act which requires that employees must:
  • take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety;
  • take reasonable care for the health and safety of anyone else who may be affected by his or her acts or omissions at the workplace;
  • cooperate with his or her employer with respect to any action taken by the employer to comply with any requirements imposed by or under this Act; and
  • not wilfully or recklessly interfere with or misuse safety equipment that is provided.

Duties of those who manage or control workplaces (Section 26)

The Act places direct duties on a person who, to any extent, has the management or control of a workplace, whether or not they are the owner. The workplace manager must ensure the workplace is safe and the means of entering and leaving it are safe and without risks to health.

The duties of a person under this section apply only in relation to matters over which the person has management or control.

Duty not to recklessly endanger persons at work (Section 32)

All persons have a duty not to recklessly engage in conduct that places, or may place, another person in the workplace in danger of serious injury.

Consultation (Part 4: Sections 35 (1 and 2) and 36 (1, 2 and 3))

The Act clearly defines the duty of employers to consult with health and safety representatives and/or staff on a range of OHS issues, including making decisions about risk controls, adequacy of facilities and any changes to the workplace, plant or conduct of work that may directly impact on the safety or health of employees.

Issue resolution (Section 73)

The Act requires the employer, or the employer’s representative, to work with employees resolve the health and safety issues arising in the workplace.  Issue resolution should be in accordance with an agreed procedure, or if there is no such procedure, use of the relevant procedure prescribed in the OHS Regulations. The resolution procedure must include employees affected by the issue, and/or a designated work group in relation to which the issue has arisen.

For issue resolution, the employer’s representative must:

  • have an appropriate level of seniority;
  • be sufficiently competent; and
  • not be a health and safety representative.

Part 2.2 of the OHS Regulations provides detail on the issues resolution process.

A health and safety issue may include any:

  • item in the general duties section of the Act;
  • hazard or potential hazard; or
  • procedural issue relating to health and safety which does not necessarily imply the existence of a health and safety dispute. Issues can be resolved through the prescribed procedure set out in the OHS Regulations Part 2.2, or through an agreed procedure, which provides a step-by-step process to enable the speedy and effective resolution of health and safety issues.

Manual handling

Part 3.1 (Manual Handling) of the OHS Regulations emphasise the identification, assessment, control and review of manual handling risks. All organisations should address their manual handling issues by (as a minimum) ensuring compliance to this part of the regulations.

Manual handling covers a wide range of activities including lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, throwing and carrying. Hazardous manual handling involves tasks that have:

  • repetitive or sustained application of force, awkward postures or movements;
  • tasks that are difficult due to the degree of force applied (high force);
  • exposure to sustained vibration;
  • manual handling of live people or animals; or
  • manual handling of unstable loads that are difficult to grasp or hold.

Potentially hazardous manual handling takes may include packing, typing, assembling, cleaning, sorting, using hand-tools, operating machinery and equipment, or manual handling of persons.

Other OHS Regulation requirements

An organisation entering into a service agreement must identify and address other relevant requirements of the OHS Regulations pertaining to their operations and undertakings such as Noise (Part 3.2), Prevention of Falls (Part 3.3), Plant (Part 3.5), Hazardous Substances and Materials (Part 4.1) and Asbestos (Part 4.3).

Effective occupational health and safety management

An effective health and safety program will include managing both physical and psychological key sector risks such as manual handling, occupational violence and stress. As a minimum, programs should contain:

  • specifically designated personnel to be responsible for occupational health and safety functions and activities;
  • documented occupational health and safety policies and procedures, including safe work procedures and emergency procedures;
  • appropriate training and information in health and safety for all staff;
  • an established incident reporting and investigation process;
  • hazard identification and risk control mechanisms, with reference to the hierarchy of control to eliminate or minimise risks as close to the source as reasonably practicable;
  • appropriate consultative and issue resolution procedures; and
  • monitoring and review processes.

When developing an occupational health and safety program, refer to relevant Australian Standards AS/NZS4801 and AS/NZS4804

Duties relating to incidents - notification of incidents to WorkSafe Victoria (sections 37, 38 and 39)

Part 5 of the Act refers to the notification of incidents:

  • Section 37 defines the incidents to which part 5 applies.
  • Section 38 explains the requirements of the 'Duty to notify'.
  • Section 39 describes the requirement to preserve the site.

Note: Relevant incident(s) must be reported to WorkSafe Victoria by calling 132 360, immediately after becoming aware of the incident. Written notification must be provided to WorkSafe Victoria within 48 hours.

A guide to the Act and advice - WorkSafe Victoria

A Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 can be obtained from the local WorkSafe Victoria office. WorkSafe Victoria also provides advice on all workplace health and safety issues. The contact telephone number is (03) 9641 1444. Toll free 1800 136 089.

WorkSafe Victoria website: http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/

Copies of Victorian Acts and Regulations can be purchased from Information Victoria on 1300 366 356, or accessed online for free by going to http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/ and selecting ‘Victorian Law Today’.

For further information

Tim Wall, Manager, Employee Safety and Wellbeing Branch, People Division, People and Executive Services Group
Telephone: (03) 9637 2460
Email: wall.timothy.c@edumail.vic.gov.au

 

4.8 WorkCover

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to organisations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Policy purpose

To ensure organisations funded by the department comply with WorkCover requirements, and are aware of the support the department may provide to assist with accessing premium discounts.

Legislation and /or regulation

Organisation requirements

Under the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (the Act), organisations with a rateable remuneration level in excess of $7,500 are required to have a WorkCover policy with a WorkSafe authorised agent (insurer). A list of agents is available on the WorkSafe website (external link, opens in new window).

Under the Act employers have the following obligations:

  • where the employer is liable for a claim, the employer must pay compensation in respect of an injury arising out of or in the course of any employment determined in accordance with the Act
  • must provide information relevant to a claim for compensation in accordance with section 9 Access to information
  • must comply with the obligations of an employer specified in:
  • Part 4 Division 2—Obligations of employers
    103 Provide employment
    104 Plan return to work
    105 Consult about the return to work of a worker
    106 Return to work co-ordinator to be appointed
    107 Make return to work information available
    108 Employer to notify Authority of return to work of worker
    109 Host to co-operate with labour hire employer
  • Part 7 Actions and proceedings for damages
  • Part 10 Premiums and registration of employers 

Employers are required to meet these obligations (provide suitable employment, plan and consult about return to work, host employers supporting for return to work) ‘to the extent that it is reasonable to do so’.

WorkSafe can impose penalties when employers fail to meet their responsibilities under the Act.

Guidelines for implementing WorkCover obligations are available on the WorkSafe (external link, opens in new window) website and from authorised WorkCover agents. The WorkSafe Advisory Service can be contacted on (03) 9641 1444.

Note: An organisation's employees are not covered by the department's WorkCover policy.

Premium discount

WorkSafe offers:

  • a five per cent discount to eligible organisations where the full WorkCover premium is paid by 5 August as a lump sum instead of by instalments
  • a three per cent discount to eligible organisations where the full WorkCover premium is paid by 1 October as a lump sum instead of by instalments.

The department may advance Service Agreement funding to facilitate non-government organisations accessing the WorkCover premium discount. Where the department is a substantial income source and provides 80 per cent or more of the organisation's total income, this test will be met. Where the percentage of income provided by the department is less than 80 per cent, it will be considered on a case by case basis.

Organisations whose funding is transferring to the National Disability Insurance Scheme should consider the cash flow implications of any advance in Service Agreement funding. If an organisation’s Service Agreement funding is to be transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Authority during the current financial year, the organisation will need to repay any outstanding cash flow advancement to the department.

Organisations are to put their request for adjustments to funding cash flow in writing and address it to their departmental contact. The request is to include the following:

  • amount requested (up to the discounted premium total)
  • confirmation that the advanced cash flow is requested to obtain the discount
  • copy of the WorkCover premium statement.

Further information on the premium discount is available from the WorkSafe (external link, opens in new window) website.

For further information

Carli Moerth, Manager, Workers Compensation and Injury Management
Telephone:(03) 9096 2850
Email: carli.moerth@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Education and Training

Under the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (external link, opens in a new window)(the Act), organisations with a rateable remuneration level in excess of $7,500 are required to have a WorkCover policy with a WorkSafe authorised agent (insurer). A list of agents is available on the WorkSafe (external link, opens in a new window) website.

The organisation's obligations under the Act extend to the:

  • payment of WorkCover premium by employers;
  • registration of work sites;
  • management of claims;
  • payment of compensation; and
  • assistance with return to work for employees injured in the course of their work.

WorkSafe can impose penalties when employers fail to meet their responsibilities under the Act.

Guidelines for implementing WorkCover obligations are available on the WorkSafe (external link, opens in a new window) website and from authorised WorkCover agents. The WorkSafe Advisory Service can be contacted on (03) 9641 1444.

Note: A funded organisation's employees are not covered by the Department of Education and Training’s (DET) WorkCover policy.

Premium discount

WorkSafe offers:

  • a five per cent discount to eligible organisations where the full WorkCover premium is paid by 5 August as a lump sum instead of by instalments
  • a three per cent discount to eligible organisations where the full WorkCover premium is paid by 1 October as a lump sum instead of by instalments.

Further information on the premium discount is available from the WorkSafe (external link, opens in a new window) website.

For further information

Florence Kaur, Senior Policy Officer, System Quality Unit, Strategy and Integration Division, Early Childhood and School Education Group
Telephone: 03 9651 3242
Email: kaur.florence.g@edumail.vic.gov.au

4.9 Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to individuals or organisations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education and Training.

Policy purpose

To ensure organisations funded by the departments are aware of human rights which are relevant to their work, and comply with their obligations under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, particularly when performing functions of a public nature on behalf of the State or another public authority.

Legislation and /or regulation

Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (external link, opens in a new window)

Organisation requirements

The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act requires an organisation which is acting on behalf of a public authority, and any individual who is acting on behalf of a public authority:

  • to consider relevant human rights protected by the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act and act compatibly with those rights, when it makes any decision or takes any action that affects another individual's human rights under the Charter of Human Rights abd Responsibilities Act;
  • to consider human rights protected by the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act when developing and implementing policies and providing services; and
  • to only limit the human rights protected by the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act where the limitation is reasonable in the circumstances, based on the standards in a free and democratic society, including human dignity, equality and freedom.

Topics

  • What is the Charter?
  • Do the department and funded organisations have obligations under the Charter?
  • What is a public authority?
  • How do you know if you are performing functions of a public nature?
  • What obligations do I or my organisation have as a public authority?
  • Exceptions from the obligation to comply with the Charter
  • Breaches of human rights
  • List of rights protected by the Charter
  • For further information

What is the Charter?

The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Charter) is a Victorian Act of Parliament that protects and promotes 20 civil and political rights including but not limited to the right to vote, the right to privacy and the right to be free from discrimination. The Charter is based on the United Nations treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Australia is a signatory. The Charter is available on the Victorian Parliament website at http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/ (external link, opens in a new window).

The Charter seeks to protect and promote basic human rights by ensuring that public powers and functions are exercised in a principled way and that public power is not misused. It complements a number of other pieces of legislation that are aimed at regulating the relationship between individuals and the State.

Do the departments and funded organisations have obligations under the Charter?

One important way the Charter protects rights is by placing obligations on public authorities. The department is a public authority, but so too are other organisations, including some of the organisations funded by the department. Outlined below are criteria to determine whether your organisation is a public authority, and the obligations of public authorities.

What is a Public Authority?

The Charter identifies three categories of organisations or individuals defined as public authorities which have obligations under the Charter:

  1. Bodies or individuals listed in the Charter including among others:
  • public servants;
  • local councils;
  • Victoria Police; and
  • organisations listed in regulations made under the Charter.
  1. Entities established under legislation that perform functions of a public nature such as:
  • public hospitals;
  • cemetery trusts ;
  • Child Safety Commissioner; and
  • Infertility Treatment Authority.
  1. Entities that exercise functions of a public nature on behalf of the State or another public authority, whether under contract or otherwise.

A body or individual which is a public authority must comply with the Charter in carrying out functions of a public nature. Organisations or individuals who perform a number of functions may only have obligations under the Charter with respect to those functions which are of a public nature. However, as a matter of best practice, they may choose to comply with the Charter in respect of all activities that affect human rights.

How do you know if you are performing functions of a public nature?

It may not always be clear whether organisations or individuals that perform functions of a public nature constitute a public authority. The following questions may assist in clarifying whether their functions are of a public nature:

  1. Does legislation give the organisation or individual that function? For example, regulations impose certain obligations on Breast Screen Victoria Inc in relation to keeping a register.
  2. Is the function one that is usually connected to or generally identified with functions of government? For example, the provision of public hospital services.
  3. Is the organisation or individual funded by a public authority to perform that function? Examples include out of home care services for children, community-based child and family services and disability services.
  4. Is the function one of a regulatory nature, such as regulating a profession?
  5. Is the organisation or individual performing the functions on behalf of the State, a department, or another public authority?

In many cases it is clear when a function is being performed for the State or another public authority. Examples include provision of public hospital services and out of home care services for children. Often it will depend on the circumstances of each case. However, the Charter specifies that:

  • the fact that an organisation is publicly funded to perform a function does not necessarily mean that the organisation is performing the function on behalf of the State, and
  • an organisation does not have to be an agent of the State to be acting on behalf of the State.

These factors are not exhaustive or conclusive. Some of the factors may be present when an organisation or individual is performing a function that is not of a public nature.

If an organisation or individual is unclear as to whether they are a public authority for the purposes of the Charter, they may choose to seek further legal advice or act compatibly with the Charter in the exercise of their functions as a matter of best practice.

What obligations do you or your organisation have as a public authority?

If an organisation or individual which is a public authority acts or makes any decision that affects another individual's rights as set out in the Charter, it must consider the relevant human rights in the Charter and act compatibly with those rights. This means that public authorities must consider the rights protected by the Charter when they make decisions, set policies and provide services.

There are steps that organisations and individuals can follow to ensure that they comply with these obligations including:

  • thinking about where human rights are relevant to their activities and decisions that they make;
  • where rights are relevant to the decision or action, consider whether or not the decision or action is limiting a human right in the Charter; and
  • being able to demonstrate that any limitation on a human right is reasonable and to consider whether the limitation is lawful, necessary, and proportionate in the circumstances.

It is important to understand that the Charter permits the reasonable limitation of human rights in particular circumstances.

Entities will make decisions and apply procedures that impact on an individual's human rights. This action is still compatible with the Charter as long as it can be demonstrated that the limitation on the right is reasonable.

A ‘reasonable’ limitation is determined based on the standards in a free and democratic society including human dignity, equality and freedom and taking into account:

  • the nature of the right;
  • the importance and purpose of the limitation;
  • the nature and extent of the limitation;
  • the relationship between the limitation and its purpose; and
  • whether there is any less restrictive means reasonably available to achieve the purpose that the limitation seeks to achieve.

Exceptions from the obligation to comply with the Charter

A public authority is not obliged to comply with the Charter where:

  • a Victorian law or a Commonwealth law means that the public authority cannot comply;
  • the act or decision is of a private nature; and
  • compliance with the Charter would prevent a religious body (including the public authority itself if it is a religious body) from conforming with the religious doctrines, beliefs or principles in accordance with which the religious body operates.

Breaches of human rights

An individual cannot take legal action if his or her sole reason is based on a breach of an obligation under the Charter. However, the Charter allows a person to raise a human rights argument in a court or tribunal in a case involving a claim that a decision or act of a public authority is unlawful on non-Charter grounds. The Ombudsman also has the power to investigate whether any administrative action is incompatible with a human right set out in the Charter.

The Charter does not provide for compensation for a breach of Charter rights.

List of human rights protected by the Charter

The Charter protects the following human rights:

  • recognition as a person and equality before the law, and to protection against discrimination;
  • right to life;
  • protection from torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and not to be subject to medical or scientific experimentation or treatment without consent;
  • freedom from slavery or forced work;
  • freedom of movement;
  • right to not have one’s privacy, family, home or correspondence arbitrarily or unlawfully interfered with, and one’s reputation unlawfully attacked;
  • freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief;
  • freedom of expression;
  • peaceful assembly and freedom of association;
  • protection of families and children by society and the State;
  • right to take part in public life;
  • practice and enjoy culture, religion and language;
  • to not be deprived of property other than in accordance with law;
  • liberty and security of person;
  • humane treatment when deprived of liberty;
  • detained child to be segregated from detained adults;
  • fair hearing;
  • presumption of innocence when charged with a criminal offence;
  • not to be tried or punished more than once for an offence already been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law; and
  • with respect to the operation of certain retrospective criminal laws.

For further information

Kirsty McIntyre
General Counsel & Chief Legal Officer
Department of Health & Human Services
Telephone: (03) 9096 1557
Email: kirsty.mcintyre@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Education and Training

Topics

  • What is the Charter?
  • Does the Department of Education and Training (DET) and funded organisations have obligations under the Charter?
  • What is a public authority?
  • How do you know if you are performing functions of a public nature?
  • What obligations do I or my organisation have as a public authority?
  • Exceptions from the obligation to comply with the Charter
  • Breaches of human rights
  • List of rights protected by the Charter
  • For further information

What is the Charter?

The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Charter) is a Victorian Act of Parliament that protects and promotes 20 civil and political rights including but not limited to the right to vote, the right to privacy and the right to be free from discrimination. The Charter is based on the United Nations treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Australia is a signatory. The Charter is available on the Victorian Parliament website at http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/ (external link, opens in a new window).

The Charter seeks to protect and promote basic human rights by ensuring that public powers and functions are exercised in a principled way and that public power is not misused. It complements a number of other pieces of legislation that are aimed at regulating the relationship between individuals and the State.

Does the Department of Education and Training (DET) and funded organisations have obligations under the Charter?

One important way the Charter protects rights is by placing obligations on public authorities. DET is a public authority, as are some of the organisations funded by DET. Outlined below are criteria to determine whether your organisation is a public authority, and the obligations of public authorities.

What is a Public Authority?

The Charter identifies three categories of organisations or individuals defined as public authorities which have obligations under the Charter:

1. Bodies or individuals listed in the Charter including among others:

  • public servants;
  • local councils;
  • Victoria Police; and
  • organisations listed in regulations made under the Charter.

2. Entities established under legislation that perform functions of a public nature such as:

  • public hospitals;
  • cemetery trusts ;
  • Commission for Children and Young People; and
  • Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority.

3. Entities that exercise functions of a public nature on behalf of the State or another public authority, whether under contract or otherwise.

A body or individual which is a public authority must comply with the Charter in carrying out functions of a public nature. Organisations or individuals who perform a number of functions may only have obligations under the Charter with respect to those functions which are of a public nature. However, as a matter of best practice, they may choose to comply with the Charter in respect of all activities that affect human rights.

How do you know if you are performing functions of a public nature?

It may not always be clear whether organisations or individuals that perform functions of a public nature constitute a public authority. The following questions may assist in clarifying whether their functions are of a public nature:

  • Does legislation give the organisation or individual that function? For example, children’s services operating under the Children’s Services Act 1996.
  • Is the function one that is usually connected to or generally identified with functions of government? For example, the provision of education services.
  • Is the organisation or individual funded by a public authority to perform that function? Examples include parenting services, supported playgroups and kindergartens.
  • Is the function one of a regulatory nature, such as regulating a profession?
  • Is the organisation or individual performing the functions on behalf of the State, a department, or another public authority?

In many cases it is clear when a function is being performed for the State or another public authority. Often it will depend on the circumstances of each case. However, the Charter specifies that:

  • the fact that an organisation is publicly funded to perform a function does not necessarily mean that the organisation is performing the function on behalf of the State; and
  • an organisation does not have to be an agent of the State to be acting on behalf of the State.

These factors are not exhaustive or conclusive. Some of the factors may be present when an organisation or individual is performing a function that is not of a public nature.

If an organisation or individual is unclear as to whether they are a public authority for the purposes of the Charter, they may choose to seek further legal advice or act compatibly with the Charter in the exercise of their functions as a matter of best practice.

What obligations do you or your organisation have as a public authority?

If an organisation or individual which is a public authority acts or makes any decision that affects another individual's rights as set out in the Charter, it must consider the relevant human rights in the Charter and act compatibly with those rights. This means that public authorities must consider the rights protected by the Charter when they make decisions, set policies and provide services.

There are steps that organisations and individuals can follow to ensure that they comply with these obligations including:

  • thinking about where human rights are relevant to their activities and decisions that they make;
  • where rights are engaged (relevant to the decision or action), consider whether or not the decision or action is limiting a human right in the Charter; and
  • being able to demonstrate that any limitation on a human right is reasonable and to consider whether the limitation is lawful, necessary, and proportionate in the circumstances.

It is important to understand that the Charter permits the reasonable limitation of human rights in particular circumstances.

Entities will make decisions and apply procedures that impact on an individual's human rights. This action is still compatible with the Charter as long as it can be demonstrated that the limitation on the right is reasonable.

A ‘reasonable’ limitation is determined based on the standards in a free and democratic society including human dignity, equality and freedom and taking into account:

  • the nature of the right;
  • the importance and purpose of the limitation;
  • the nature and extent of the limitation;
  • the relationship between the limitation and its purpose; and
  • whether there is any less restrictive means reasonably available to achieve the purpose that the limitation seeks to achieve.

Exceptions from the obligation to comply with the Charter

A public authority is not obliged to comply with the Charter where:

  • a Victorian law or a Commonwealth law means that the public authority cannot comply;
  • the act or decision is of a private nature; and
  • compliance with the Charter would prevent a religious body (including the public authority itself if it is a religious body) from conforming with the religious doctrines, beliefs or principles in accordance with which the religious body operates.

Breaches of human rights

An individual cannot take legal action if his or her sole reason is based on a breach of an obligation under the Charter. However, the Charter allows a person to raise a human rights argument in a court or tribunal in a case involving a claim that a decision or act of a public authority is unlawful on non-Charter grounds. The Ombudsman also has the power to investigate whether any administrative action is incompatible with a human right set out in the Charter.

The Charter does not provide for compensation for a breach of Charter rights.

List of human rights protected by the Charter

The Charter protects the following human rights:

  • recognition as a person and equality before the law, and to protection against discrimination;
  • right to life;
  • protection from torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and not to be subject to medical or scientific experimentation or treatment without consent;
  • freedom from slavery or forced work;
  • freedom of movement;
  • right to not have one’s privacy, family, home or correspondence arbitrarily or unlawfully interfered with, and one’s reputation unlawfully attacked;
  • freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief;
  • freedom of expression;
  • peaceful assembly and freedom of association;
  • protection of families and children by society and the State;
  • right to take part in public life;
  • practice and enjoy culture, religion and language;
  • to not be deprived of property other than in accordance with law;
  • liberty and security of person;
  • humane treatment when deprived of liberty;
  • detained child to be segregated from detained adults;
  • fair hearing;
  • presumption of innocence when charged with a criminal offence;
  • not to be tried or punished more than once for an offence already been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law; and
  • with respect to the operation of certain retrospective criminal laws.

For further information

 

4.10 Funded Organisation Performance Monitoring Framework

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

  • The Funded Organisation Performance Monitoring Framework (the ‘monitoring framework’) applies to organisations funded through a Service Agreement with the Department. 
  • Organisations in scope include non-for-profits, for-profits, universities, local governments, public/private hospitals (for their non-acute services) and consortium arrangements.
  • The Desktop Review and components of the monitoring framework do not apply to hospitals, local governments, organisations funded under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (not currently funded by the department), universities, TAFEs, schools and some specific DET/community participation activities.
  • The Service Agreement Compliance Certification (SACC) does not apply to hospitals.

Policy purpose

  • The monitoring framework is a key instrument to demonstrate accountability for effective and efficient expenditure of public funding by funded organisations for the benefit of service users. It focuses on mitigating risk in relation to sector governance, services and finances while managing the reporting burden.
  • It provides a uniform set of tools and policies for monitoring of organisations funded through a Service Agreement as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure a transparent and consistent approach to performance monitoring.
  • The Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings has highlighted the need for an effective oversight of funded services in the areas of governance, service delivery and financial management.
  • The monitoring framework seeks to confirm that funded organisations address key departmental policies and a Service Agreement requirement, which ensures that service users receive quality care and services meet appropriate standards and community expectations.

Legislation and /or regulation

  • Various legislation about legal entity requirements, for example Companies Act; Disability Act 2006; Children Youth and Families Act 2005; Educational and Care Services National Law Act 2010.
  • The Service Agreement’s quality of service delivery clauses says '...all applicable Laws including Laws relating to fire protection, industrial relations and employment, and health, and general safety and taxation.'.

Organisation requirements

  • Understanding the requirements of policies and standards as defined in schedule 1 of the Service Agreement.
  • Providing information requested by the department regarding their performance in relation to Service Agreement targets and compliance to defined policies.
  • Confirm key performance issues with department monitoring staff.
  • Work in collaboration with the department to develop and implement appropriate actions to address key performance issues or service quality risks.
  • Participation in service reviews if required.

Introduction

The departments are required to monitor organisations receiving funding through a Service Agreement. Monitoring is undertaken on an ongoing basis through the collection of information and through the regular engagement between departmental staff and organisations.

The monitoring framework provides an end-to-end process for monitoring funded organisations’ compliance with the Service Agreement. It confirms the key policy and operational requirements to be applied and outlines a common set of tools to assess an organisation’s performance, ensuring all funded organisations across the state will be engaged in a consistent manner and assessed on defined key risk areas.

The monitoring framework has the following objectives:

  • ensures that Service Agreement monitoring reflects community expectations about client safety and wellbeing
  • promotes greater collaboration between government and funded organisations in the identification and management of risk
  • fosters greater understanding in funded organisations of their accountabilities under the agreement
  • provides improved transparency, efficiency and consistency in monitoring processes and responses to risk and performance issues
  • provides improved access for monitoring staff to funded organisation performance information
  • embeds key Departmental policies in monitoring processes and systems
  • prioritises monitoring resources to ensure issues in funded organisations that pose the greatest risk are addressed first
  • improves reporting and analysis of funded organisation performance to inform service planning, sector capacity building initiatives, staff training and continuous improvement of systems and monitoring tools
  • reduces administrative burdens for Department staff and funded organisations.

Scope of the monitoring framework

The monitoring framework applies to organisations funded through a Service Agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services or the Department of Education and Training.

The Department of Education and Training (DET) will advise organisations (in receipt of DET funding) of the commencement date for the use of the new monitoring tools and processes.

Organisations in scope include non-for-profits, for-profits, universities, local governments, public/private hospitals (for their non-acute services) and consortium arrangement.

The Desktop Review and components of the monitoring framework do not apply to hospitals, local governments, organisations funded under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (not currently funded by the department), universities, TAFEs, schools and some specific DET/community participation activities.

The Service Agreement Compliance Certification (SACC) does not apply to hospitals.

The department and funded organisations have joint responsibility to detect issues and problems that may impact on service user safety and wellbeing and the ongoing provision of quality and sustainable services. In the course of administering the FOPMF, departmental monitoring staff may become aware of an allegation of fraud or corruption within an organisation. Where this occurs, departmental monitoring staff are to advise the DHHS Corporate Integrity Unit.  The DHHS Corporate Integrity Unit will work with monitoring staff to make an assessment of the identified risk and determine next steps. Organisations  should seek advice from the DHHS Corporate Integrity Unit about the allegation of fraud or corruption even if the organisation is managing the situation internally.

Components of the monitoring framework

The monitoring framework consists of three components involving the use of specific monitoring tools and processes to assess organisations’ performance against the Service Agreement requirements. The components are:

Service Agreement Monitoring – undertaken on an ongoing basis through the collection of information and regular engagement between departmental staff and organisations.

Monitoring is focused on assessing key risk areas related to governance, financial management and service delivery. It involves evidence gathering and the tracking and documenting of an organisation’s outcomes and achievements. This monitoring is core to determining an organisation’s capacity to deliver service user safety and wellbeing and service quality and innovation.

Risk assessment of identified performance issues – an assessment undertaken by departmental staff using risk assessment guidelines to assess the severity of any identified performance issues. This process supports the Department and funded organisations to consistently determine the level of risk and develop effective actions for remediation.

Responses to performance issues – where performance issues have been identified through Service Agreement monitoring departmental staff and organisations will work through how it can be managed and remediated.  Monitoring staff will respond to performance issues with remedial actions or a service review.

In rare cases there may be serious allegations or evidence that a funded organisation has significantly breached the Service Agreement. A Service Review will be undertaken by the Department to determine if remedial actions can be put in place or if the Department needs to take other actions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of service users and provision of quality services.

Key tools

The following tools are used by departmental staff to support consistent monitoring of funded organisations:

Service Agreement Monitoring Checklist is used throughout the year to ensure evidence gathering and discussions with funded organisations address the requirements of the Service Agreement and have a focus on the key risk areas. There are two minimum monitoring checklists used by department monitoring staff; the organisation compliance checklist (used by Monitoring Coordinators or Agreement Leads) and the service plan checklist (used by Service Plan Leads).

Desktop Review provides an annual assessment of whole of funded organisation performance from information collected throughout the year. The Desktop Review Report is shared with funded organisations.

Service Agreement Compliance Certification requires funded organisations to certify to the department that they are compliant with the requirements of defined clause and policies outlined in the Service Agreement.

Specialist Checklists are used by departmental staff in the monitoring the performance of funded organisation’s in addressing defined policy/program requirements of the Service Agreement including children and young people in residential care; and people with disabilities living in accommodation.

For further information

The Funded Organisation Performance Monitoring Framework: Overview for the funding sector - Information for organisations funded through Service Agreements booklet (Word 173 KB, opens in a new window) provides further guidance on key components and process of the framework.

Email: Monitoring.Framework.Helpdesk@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Education and Training

Introduction

The Funded Organisation Performance Monitoring Framework (the Framework) updates the Monitoring Framework for health, housing and community service sectors (2005) by providing a set of new tools and processes for monitoring organisations funded through a Service Agreement.

The Framework is a critical part of the Department of Education and Training’s (DET) quality assurance approach to ensure that service users receive quality care and services meet appropriate standards and community expectations.

The Framework provides DET staff with greater clarity and direction in monitoring activities. Staff across DET use a common set of tools to assess an organisation’s performance, ensuring all funded organisations across the state will be engaged in a consistent manner and assessed on defined key risk areas.

Scope of the Monitoring Framework

The Framework applies to organisations funded through a Service Agreement with DET or Department of Health and Human Services.

DET will advise organisations receiving DET funding of the commencement date for the use of the revised monitoring tools and processes.

Components of the Framework

The Framework consists of three components involving the use of specific monitoring tools and processes to assess organisations’ performance against the Service Agreement requirements. The components are:

Service Agreement Monitoring – undertaken on an ongoing basis through the collection of information and regular engagement between departmental staff and organisations.

Monitoring is focused on assessing key risk areas related to governance, financial management and service delivery. It involves evidence gathering and the tracking and documenting of an organisation’s outcomes and achievements. This monitoring is core to determining an organisation’s capacity to deliver service user safety and wellbeing and service quality and innovation.

Risk assessment of identified performance issues – an assessment undertaken by departmental staff using risk assessment guidelines to assess the severity of any identified performance issues. This process supports DET and funded organisations to consistently determine the level of risk and develop effective actions for remediation.

Responses to performance issues – Where a performance issue has been identified through Service Agreement monitoring, departmental staff and organisations are to work through how the issue can be managed and remediated. Remedial actions are to be put in place to support organisations in addressing the requirements of the Service Agreement.

Where there are more significant issues a Service Review would be undertaken. A Service Review provides an opportunity for DET and the funded organisation to jointly raise issues and determine an action plan. A third party may be engaged in these reviews.

In rare cases there may be serious allegations or evidence that a funded organisation has significantly breached the Service Agreement. A Service Review will be undertaken by DET to determine if remedial actions can be put in place or if the Department needs to take other actions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of service users and provision of quality services.

Key tools

The following tools are used by departmental staff to support consistent monitoring of funded organisations:

Service Agreement Monitoring Checklist is used throughout the year to ensure evidence gathering and discussions with funded organisations address the requirements of the Service Agreement and have a focus on the key risk areas.

Specialist Checklists are used to review how a funded organisation is meeting defined policy/program requirements viewed as critical in ensuring service quality. The finalised Residential Services Monitoring Checklist will be available 1 January 2016. It was trialled in late 2014 in consultation with the children, youth and families sector.

Desktop Review provides an annual assessment of whole of funded organisation performance from information collected throughout the year. The Desktop Review Report is shared with funded organisations.

For further information

The Funded Organisation Performance Monitoring Framework: Overview for the funding sector - Information for organisations funded through Service Agreements booklet (Word 173 KB, opens in a new window) provides further guidance on key components and process of the framework.

Organisation compliance checklist (Word)

Service plan checklist (Word)

Email: MonitoringFramework.Helpdesk@dhhs.vic.gov.au

4.11 Pandemic business continuity planning

Department of Health and Human Services

The pandemic business continuity planning policy does not apply to organisations funded under a Service Agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services.

Department of Education and Training

Pandemic planning

Pandemic events pose a challenge for the continued provision of all services. Organisations are required to exercise their duty of care to protect the health and wellbeing of their employees, contractors, visitors and customers (including families and children). Accordingly, adequate business continuity planning, including pandemic planning, is required to enable the organisations to continue to deliver their key services to the community.

It is expected that organisation would work closely with local government and health authorities to manage the consequences of pandemic events.

Business continuity planning

Funded organisations are required to have Business continuity plans (BCPs) in place to continue to deliver these services. Conversely, you may need to plan for scaling down or standing down non-essential services.

Business continuity planning is the process by which business as usual operations and services are maintained to ensure critical business processes can continue to operate effectively, following a disruption to the organisation. Business continuity planning improves organisational resilience whilst minimising safety, financial, operational, reputational risks and/or other damaging consequences.

BCPs outline workaround strategies that an organisation would invoke in case of a disruption. Invoking the BCPs assists in the recovery efforts to ensure critical business processes can continue to operate.

Every organisation will benefit from having a BCP in place. BCPs that address such key disruption scenarios as loss of staff, building, IT and key supplier(s) provide an opportunity to respond to and recover from a vast array of disruptions events including pandemics, floods, fires etc.

During pandemic events, business continuity strategies about loss of staff and loss of suppliers’ need to consider the management of absenteeism of key employees and volunteers as well as significant interruptions to supplies.  It is particularly important that small organisations with limited staff and resources prepare carefully to reduce the impact of a pandemic on the continuity of their service.

During a disruption, staff and volunteers are likely to be concerned about their well-being and the well-being of their families and customers. For example, during a pandemic, between 30 and 50 per cent of an organisation’s staff and volunteers may become ill, which could have a significant impact on an organisation. The remaining staff and volunteers, not affected by the pandemic, may not show up to work. The commitment of your organisation to business continuity, including pandemic business continuity planning, is likely to assure staff and volunteers that you are planning ahead and doing your best.

Resources

For more information or assistance with business continuity management, email:

Department of Education and Training: business.continuity@edumail.vic.gov.au

For further information

Ghassan Masri, Business Continuity Officer, Risk Unit, Strategy and Planning Division, Strategy and Performance Group, Department of Education and Training
Email: business.continuity@edumail.vic.gov.au

4.12 Climate change adaptation and environmental sustainability

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to organisations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Policy purpose

To encourage funded organisations to understand and respond to climate change risks, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to implement resource efficiency programs to reduce operational costs. 

Legislation and /or regulation

Not applicable

Organisation requirements

Organisations are encouraged to:

Climate change adaption

  • Understand their climate change risks (policy and program goals, assets, workforce, services and clients)
  • Develop and implement resilience plans of how they will respond to natural disasters and other effects of climate change.

A good basis for undertaking this work is participation in the Community Services Natural Disaster Resilience Program. The program is open to organisations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. Its purpose is to assist organisations understand climate change risks and prepare for them. For more information go to: http://communityresilience.loopandco.com.au (external link, opens in a new window)

Resource efficiency

  • Prepare and implement environmental management plans, track performance and report publicly on improvements in resource efficiency.

For further information

Department of Health and Human Services' Sustainability in healthcare (external link, opens in a new window) website

Daniel Voronoff, Senior Policy Officer, Environmental Management
Telephone: (03) 9096 7173
Email: daniel.voronoff@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Tiernan Humphrys, Manager Environmental Sustainability
Telephone: (03) 9096 2057
Email: tiernan.humphrys@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Education and Training

Environmental sustainability

The Department of Education and Training (DET) is committed to environmental sustainability across the Victorian education sector, including reducing resource use and environmental impacts of its operations. In line with the National Quality Standard (3.3), DET funded early childhood organisations are encouraged to embed sustainable practices in their operations, and support children to become environmentally responsible.

DET does not currently publish environmental sustainability resources for early childhood organisations. There are resources published by Sustainability Victoria for schools that can assist early childhood organisations to reduce the resource use and environmental impacts of their operations. These are available on the Sustainability Victoria website at http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/services-and-advice/schools/resources (external link, opens in a new window).

For further information

Caitlin Phillips, Manager, Portfolio Standards Unit, Standards and Planning Branch, Infrastructure and Sustainability Division, Infrastructure and Finance Services Group
Telephone: (03) 9947 1862
Email: phillips.caitlin.c@edumail.vic.gov.au

4.13 Language services

Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services manages separate arrangements for the provision of language services. The department's credit line system provides access to interpreting and translation services (including Auslan) for eligible funded organisations.

The provider for the department is the Victorian Interpreting and Translating Service (VITS). Further information, including the Language Services access identification number (PIN), is available from the secure My Agency site on the Funded Agency Channel.

The former Department of Human Services Language Services Access Guide (external link, opens in a new window) and the former Department of Health Guidelines for the use of the Language Services Credit Line (external link, opens in a new window) are available, along with the language services policies and other relevant information, on the departments’ web sites.

For further information

Department of Health and Human Services (human services)

Refer to the former Department of Human Services website www.dhs.vic.gov.au/languageservices (external link, opens in a new window)
Email: languages@dhhs.vic.gov.au

The Victorian Interpreting and Translating Service (VITS) provides interpreting services and translating services for department users and funded organisations. The service is accessed through an allocated identification number (PIN) by VITS. The PINs will assist the department to monitor language service usage.

Department of Health and Human Services (health)

Refer to the former Department of Health website http://www.health.vic.gov.au/diversity/cald.htm (external link, opens in a new window)
Email: dhlanguageservices@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Education and Training

The Victorian Interpreting and Translating Service (VITS) provides interpreting and translating services to the Department of Education and Training (DET). DET fully funds this service for all Victorian government schools, early childhood services or other support services delivered or funded by DET. Refer to the Guidelines for using interpreting and translating services (external link, opens in a new window) for further information.

The use of VITS is mandatory for all Victorian government schools, early childhood services or other support services delivered or funded by DET. Contact VITS by telephone (03 9280 1923) to obtain a PIN and password to access the service.

The most efficient and cost effective method for booking an interpreter through VITS is via their online booking system. Bookings for on-site interpreters can be made on the VITS booking system at http://client.vits.com.au (external link, opens in a new window).

For further information

Anne Gibbs, Manager, Major Projects and Procurement, Secondary Reform, Transitions and Priority Cohorts Division, Early Childhood and School Group, Department of Education and Training
Telephone: 9651 0278
Email: language.services@edumail.vic.gov.au

4.14 Cultural diversity guide (not applicable under the Service Agreement)

The Cultural diversity guide is not applicable under the Service Agreement.

4.15 Improving inclusion and access for Aboriginal people and communities

Department of Health and Human Services

Victorian Aboriginal peoples’ culture is rich, strong and alive. Resilience and cultural identity continue to provide a solid foundation for a positive future as the Aboriginal population grows.

It is also recognised, however, that Aboriginal peoples are among the most disadvantaged in Australia. In all social indicators including education, employment, health, housing, justice, child protection, disability and family violence, Aboriginal peoples rate far worse than non-Aboriginal peoples.

Both mainstream and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) have important roles in addressing this disadvantage and improving health and human services outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians through the provision of inclusive, accessible and culturally safe services.

The following resources provide guidelines for improved Aboriginal inclusion and access:

  • The Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2013-2018
    This overarching framework for Aboriginal affairs in Victoria reinforces government commitment to sustained and strategic effort to improve the quality of life of Aboriginal Victorians. It is underpinned by seven key access criteria for effective service design: cultural safety, affordability, convenience, awareness, empowerment, availability and respect. The publication is available at: http://www.dpc.vic.gov.au/index.php/aboriginal-affairs/aboriginal-affairs-policy/victorian-aboriginal-affairs-framework (external link, opens in a new window).
  • The Victorian Government Aboriginal Inclusion Framework
    The Framework is a tool to review and reform current practices in relation to how organisations do business with, and deliver services to Aboriginal peoples, families and communities.
    The publication is available at: http://www.dpc.vic.gov.au/index.php/aboriginal-affairs/aboriginal-affairs-policy/aboriginal-inclusion (external link, opens in a new window).
  • Koolin Balit: Victorian Government strategic directions for Aboriginal health 2012-2022
    Through Koolin Balit, the department’s vision is to improve within a decade, the length and quality of life of Aboriginal people in Victoria. In realising this vision and to achieve the priorities under Koolin Balit, it is critical to have a health system in which all service providers deliver high-quality services for all Aboriginal Victorians. A health system that includes strong Aboriginal organisations is a key enabler in delivering the Koolin Balit vision. The department works together with Aboriginal organisations to strengthen the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) sector. The publication is available at:  http://health.vic.gov.au/aboriginalhealth/koolinbalit.htm (external link, opens in a new window).
  • As a requirement of their Service Agreement, service providers that are funded to provide in-scope services to clients are required to meet the Department of Health and Human Services Standards (Standards). The Standards are underpinned by the principles of empowerment, access and engagement, wellbeing and participation. Standard 4.4 requires service providers to demonstrate that people maintain and strengthen connection to their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and community. The Standards are available at: http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/about-the-department/documents-and-resources/policies,-guidelines-and-legislation/department-of-human-services-standards (external link, opens in a new window).
  • Department of Health and Human Services Standards Evidence Guide, Culturally Informed Addendum
    The addendum has been developed for use alongside the Standards and the Human Services Standards Evidence Guide. The addendum helps organisations prepare and participate in internal and external reviews against the Standards, and to support the application of an Aboriginal cultural lens to the four service delivery Standards. 
  • Enabling choice for Aboriginal people living with disability - Promoting access and inclusion
    This document provides guidance on how supports and services can be made more accessible and inclusive for Aboriginal people with a disability and their families. The publication is available at: http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/about-the-department/documents-and-resources/reports-publications/enabling-choice-for-aboriginal-people-living-with-disability (external link, opens in a new window).

Organisations are also strongly encouraged to establish partnerships with their local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) to assist their service planning and delivery.

For further information, contact your divisional Local Engagement Officer, Aboriginal Partnership and Planning Officer and/or Senior Aboriginal Health Partnership Officer.

For further information

Matthew Lloyd, Senior Program Officer
Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing
Telephone: (03) 9096 1001
Email: matthew.lloyd@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Education and Training

Victorian Aboriginal peoples’ culture is rich, strong and alive. Resilience and cultural identity continue to provide a solid foundation for a positive future as the Aboriginal population grows.

It is also recognised, however, that Aboriginal people are among the most disadvantaged in Australia. In all social indicators including education, employment, health, housing, justice, child protection, disability and family violence, Aboriginal people rate far worse than non-Aboriginal people.

Both mainstream and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) have important roles in addressing this disadvantage and improving education outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians through the provision of inclusive, accessible and culturally safe services.

The Department of Education and Training works with Aboriginal communities on a range of programs and initiatives aimed at improving Aboriginal children’s access to positive learning environments.

The following resources provide guidelines for improved Aboriginal inclusion and access:

  • The Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2013-2018
    This overarching framework for Aboriginal affairs in Victoria reinforces government commitment to sustained and strategic effort to improve the quality of life of Aboriginal Victorians. It is underpinned by seven key access criteria for effective service design: cultural safety, affordability, convenience, awareness, empowerment, availability and respect. The publication is available at: http://www.dpc.vic.gov.au/index.php/aboriginal-affairs/aboriginal-affairs-policy/victorian-aboriginal-affairs-framework (external link, opens in a new window)
  • The Victorian Government Aboriginal Inclusion Framework
    The Framework is a tool to review and reform current practices in relation to how organisations do business with, and deliver services to Aboriginal people, families and communities. The publication is available at: http://www.dpc.vic.gov.au/index.php/aboriginal-affairs/aboriginal-affairs-policy/aboriginal-inclusion (external link, opens in a new window)
  • Koolin Balit: Victorian Government strategic directions for Aboriginal health 2012-2022
    Through Koolin Balit, the Department’s vision is to improve within a decade, the length and quality of life of Aboriginal people in Victoria. In realising this vision and to achieve the priorities under Koolin Balit, it is critical to have a health system in which all service providers deliver high-quality services for all Aboriginal Victorians. A health system that includes strong Aboriginal organisations is a key enabler in delivering the Koolin Balit vision.

The department works together with Aboriginal organisations to strengthen the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) sector. The publication is available at: http://health.vic.gov.au/aboriginalhealth/koolinbalit.htm (external link, opens in a new window)

For further information

Ward Garwood, Senior Project Officer, Participation Transition and Inclusion Unit, Koorie Outcomes Division, Early Childhood and School Education Group
Telephone: (03) 9651 3353
Email: garwood.ward.a@edumail.vic.gov.au

4.16 Multiple and complex needs initiative

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

The Multiple and Complex Needs Initiative service provision framework (external link, opens in a new window) applies to programs and organisations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services to fulfill MACNI tasks.  

Policy purpose

To ensure programs and organisations funded to provide Multiple and Complex Needs Initiative (MACNI) services are aware of and comply with operational guidelines and relevant legislation.

Legislation and /or regulation

Human Services (Complex Needs) Act 2009 (external link, opens in a new window)

Organisation requirements

The Multiple and Complex Needs Initiative is a joint initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice and Regulation. MACNI provides assessment, care plan coordination and brokerage funding for people with multiple and complex needs that challenge existing legislative frameworks and service systems.

The Human Services (Complex Needs) Act 2009 (external link, opens in a new window) underpins MACNI. The legislation supports the delivery of coordinated health and human services to people determined eligible under the Act.

MACNI promotes collaborative cross program planning and support at the local level. It provides a highly targeted specialist intervention for eligible individuals that:

  • stabilises housing, health, social connection and safety
  • provides a platform for long term engagement in the service system
  • pursues planned and consistent therapeutic goals for each person.

MACNI is complementary to, and does not replace, existing services or systems of support for individuals with multiple and complex needs. Successful implementation of MACNI requires existing service providers to respond to the needs of people within the target group in accordance with the guiding principles of the Act.

Access to MACNI is via consultation with the MACNI Divisional Coordinator appointed in each Department of Health and Human Services Division.

For further information

Shane Beaumont, Service Design and Operations
Telephone: (03) 9096 2523
Email: shane.beaumont@dhhs.vic.gov.au

4.17 With respect to age - 2009 (elder abuse prevention practice guidelines)

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

This guide applies to manager/s and workers that support older people in:

  • health services such as hospitals (including emergency departments); rehabilitation and subacute services, nursing and allied health services provided in the home and other settings, community health services
  • community based agencies such as: local government; not-for-profit organisations and private organisations involved in that provision of community aged care services (including Commonwealth funded services); respite services; mental health services for older people; community legal aid services; family violence support services; services that support the indigenous community and services that support people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Policy purpose

The purpose of this guide is to:

  • outline the Victorian Government response to the abuse of older people who live in their home, in the community
  • provide practical guidance to develop agency policies and procedures to respond and act on suspicion or allegation of elder abuse
  • support the development and review of interagency protocols that enable cooperation in responding to elder abuse
  • provide a range of resources that assist and reinforce the development of policies, procedures and protocols
  • strengthen the capacity of health services and community service organisations to respond with confidence to prevent and to address, elder abuse as required.

Legislation and /or regulation

This guide is not bound by one legislation or regulation.

Organisation requirements

Funded organisations are obliged to consider these guidelines. The approach is a combination of service responses and legal interventions which protect the independence, dignity and safety of senior Victorians.

The Victorian Government’s approach is based on empowering older people, consistent with the universal human right to live life free from violence and abuse. It also reflects a commitment to support the safety, security and dignity of all older people in our community.

The Victorian Government practice guidelines for health services and community agencies for the prevention of elder abuse have been updated. These practice guidelines 'With respect to age - 2009' are available at https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/ageing-and-aged-care/wellbeing-and-participation/preventing-elder-abuse (external link, opens in a new window).

For further information

Alison Beckett, Senior Policy Adviser, Policy and Analysis Unit, Ageing and Aged Care Branch
Telephone: (03) 9096 7924
Email: alison.beckett@dhhs.vic.gov.au

4.18 Vulnerable people in emergencies

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

The policy applies to organisations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and any other organisations that provide personal care, support and/or case management services either in home or community settings, to clients living in the community, and to the municipal councils themselves, within the 64 municipal council areas wholly or partly covered by the Country Fire Authority.

Policy purpose

The purpose of the policy is to improve the safety of vulnerable people in emergencies.

Legislation and /or regulation

Nil

Organisation requirements

Organisations’ obligations under the policy are to:

  • Participate with councils in identifying and listing sites where vulnerable people are likely to be situated
  • Appoint an agency coordinator for the Vulnerable Persons Register
  • Screen community-based clients using vulnerable persons criteria for personal emergency planning or consideration for inclusion on a vulnerable persons register
  • Provide/arrange personal emergency planning for suitable vulnerable clients
  • Register and maintain client information on municipal Vulnerable Persons Register(s)

The Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for the 'Vulnerable people in emergencies policy - May 2015' (the policy). The policy responds to Recommendation 3 of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission Final Report, and related recommendations, and is developed to improve the safety of vulnerable people in emergencies, through supporting emergency planning with and for vulnerable people.

The policy uses the existing relationships with funded organisations in supporting clients to improve their safety and resilience through promoting personal emergency planning. Policy requirements apply to organisations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (not Department of Education and Training) to provide personal care, support and/or case management services either in home or community settings, to clients living in the community within the 64 municipal council areas wholly or partly covered by the Country Fire Authority districts. This includes health or community care services such as home and community care, personal care or disability day programs.

The following policy and guidelines provide more detailed information:

For further information

Department of Health and Human Services

For further information, contact the relevant vulnerable people in emergencies contact:

vpe.central@dhhs.vic.gov.au
vpe.south@dhhs.vic.gov.au
vpe.north@dhhs.vic.gov.au
vpe.east@dhhs.vic.gov.au
vpe.west@dhhs.vic.gov.au

4.19 Emergency preparedness policy for clients and services

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to all types of client services that are regulated, delivered or funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, and all services delivered from property that is owned or managed by the department.

Policy purpose

The purpose of the policy is to protect and enhance the health and safety of people accessing services from Victoria’s health and human services sector.

Legislation and /or regulation

Organisation requirements

  • The department’s obligations require that service providers develop plans to ensure the safety and wellbeing of clients and the staff who support them.
  • The policy provides general advice for emergency planning as well as specific policy advice for services areas where a higher level of planning is needed.

The policy assists the department and funded organisations to prepare for and respond to emergencies. It describes the sector’s responsibilities and considerations to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies. It seeks to achieve a consistent sector-wide approach, taking into consideration the local environment, conditions and resources.

The policy and other emergency management information is available on the Emergency preparedness policy for clients and services  (external link, opens in a new window) web page <https://providers.dhhs.vic.gov.au/emergency-preparedness>

For further information

Emergency Management Branch
Email: EMPolicy@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Education and Training

The Department of Education and Training (DET) is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all staff, families, students and children.  Funded organisations are required to have policies and procedures in place and an up to date Emergency Management Plan (EMP). DET has developed a range of resources to assist education and care services in developing their EMP and, where relevant, their bushfire preparedness. These can be accessed on the DET's Emergency Management (external link, opens in a new window) web page. While the EMP template is not mandatory, you should review this template to ensure you have adequately addressed all potential risks in your plan.

Approved Child Care and Licensed Children’s Services

The National Quality Framework (NQF) and the Children’s Services Act 1996 require services to operate in a way that ensures that every reasonable precaution is taken to protect children from harm and any hazard likely to cause injury, including responding to potential bushfire risks.

Regulations 97 and 168 (2)(e) of the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011 stipulate that approved education and care services, must have an emergency and evacuation policy and procedure which includes:

  • risk assessment to identify the potential emergencies that are relevant to the service;
  • instructions for what must be done in the event of an emergency; and
  • emergency and evacuation procedures and a floor plan.

Each year the department offers information sessions to assist early childhood services to develop a robust EMP.

For further information and resources on emergency management, refer to the DET Early Childhood Emergency Management (external link, opens in a new window) web page.

Bushfire at Risk Register

Centre based services located in fire-prone areas are placed on the Department’s Bushfire At-Risk Register (BARR) and additional conditions are placed on their service approval.  The service must submit their EMP annually and close on Code Red period as determined by their Bureau of Meteorology district.

For information about understanding the responsibilities of managing bushfire risks in centre-based services, refer to the fact sheet available on the DET Emergency Management Requirements (external link, opens in a new window) web page.

Other Early Childhood Services and Programs

Other Early Childhood Services and Programs do not operate under the National Quality Framework or the Children’s Services Act 1996.  They include the Aboriginal Early Years Services, Early Childhood Intervention Services, access and participation to funded kindergarten program and services including Access to Early Learning, Maternal and Child Health Services, Parenting Services, Best Start and the Children’s Facilities Capital Program. 

Services provided in own home

For services provided to children and families in the family residence (whether leased or owned by the family), DET expects that the client (and where appropriate, the owner of the premises) will have responsibility for their own fire safety and ensure that the premises meet all relevant building local laws, regulations or legislation, including retrospective obligations.

DET notes that the relevant authorities (for example, local councils and fire authorities, Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board and Country Fire Authority) are responsible for enforcement of fire safety provisions.

Funded organisations have a duty of care to the child during the provision of services and hence, have responsibility r for a child’s fire safety.

Premises

DET expects that service premises meet the relevant building regulations, local laws, or legislation at the time of construction, including retrospective provisions (such as smoke alarm requirements). Any subsequent building works shall meet the relevant building approval provisions at the corresponding time.

Where this is not the case, or where the funded organisation determines that the premises do not provide an appropriate level of fire safety, the organisation is expected to ensure that the premises are brought up to minimum regulatory standard and compliant with the Victorian Building Authority’s building regulations.

Operational readiness

The funded organisation must ensure that appropriate operational readiness measures are developed, implemented and reviewed. This includes (but is not limited to) fire emergency management and evacuation procedures, staff training to implement procedures, and maintenance of fire safety systems.

Management tasks

The funded organisation must ensure that appropriate fire safety readiness measures are developed, implemented and reviewed. These include:

  • holding a current fire risk audit that is less than 5 years old;
  • fire emergency management and evacuation procedures;
  • training of staff to implement the procedures developed;
  • maintenance of all the fire safety systems and any deviations through an alternative solution; and
  • ensuring that the building is compliant with the Victorian Building Authority’s building regulations.

‘All Hazards’ approach

It is expected that a funded organisation prepares for, responds to, and recovers from, emergencies in accordance with the 'all hazards' approach. This includes, but is not limited to, fire in the building, bushfire, flood, relocation, evacuation and prolonged service interruption.

For further information

Therese Carroll, Manager, Capability and Response Unit, Emergency Management Division, Regional Services Group
Telephone: 03 9651 3690
Email: emergency.management@edumail.vic.gov.au

4.20 Conducting research in early childhood settings and schools

Department of Education and Training

Department of Education and Training (DET) funded organisations are often approached to participate in research (including evaluations), or to assist with recruitment of families and children to a research project. Organisations should only agree to take part in/assist with recruitment for research that has been reviewed and approved by DET.

DET welcomes high-quality proposals for research which contributes to knowledge of early childhood development, young people’s wellbeing and education outcomes. Any research project that relates to, or involves: users of Early Childhood Development services; services funded by the department; Victorian government schools; teachers; or staff should be submitted to the department for approval. This includes requests for access to data sets that are owned or managed by the department.

The department reviews applications according to criteria under the following headings:

  • benefit and value to the department and participants;
  • burden and impact on the setting and the participants;
  • appropriateness of methodology in the setting; and
  • ethical design and conduct, which includes issues such as informed consent, confidentiality, privacy and protection from harm.

This review is separate to the ethical review of the proposal by a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). Where applicable, research applications must also be approved by a HREC.

Information about procedures and an application form can be found on the Conducting Research page (external link, opens in a new window) on the Department of Education and Training's website. 

For further information

Dr Zoran Endekov, Senior Policy Officer, Strategic Evaluation and Evidence Unit, Insights and Evidence Branch, Performance and Evaluation Division, Strategy and Performance Group.
Telephone: 03 9637 3131
Email: research@edumail.vic.gov.au

4.21 Asset Management Accountability Framework

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to public bodies such as Health Services that are subject to the Financial Management Act.

Policy purpose

The Asset Management Accountability Framework seeks to ensure assets are managed efficiently and effectively.

Legislation and /or regulation

Standing Directions of the Minister for Finance under Financial Management Act 1994 (Vic)(external link, opens in a new window)

Organisation requirements

The framework details mandatory asset management requirements as well as general guidance for agencies responsible for managing assets. Mandatory requirements include

  • developing asset management strategies,
  • governance frameworks,
  • performance standards and processes to regularly monitor and improve asset management,
  • establishing systems for maintaining assets and
  • processes for identifying and addressing performance failures.

For further information

Refer to the What is asset management (external link, opens in a new window) web page on the Department of Treasury and Finance's website.

Liz Stackhouse, Assistant Director, Infrastructure Planning and Delivery
Telephone: (03) 9096 1312
Email: Liz.Stackhouse@dhhs.vic.gov.au

4.22 Asset maintenance

Asset maintenance is now covered under 4.21 Asset Management Accountability Framework

4.23 Carers Recognition Act

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

The Act applies to care support organisations including state government departments, local councils and public service care agencies and their sub-contractors that provide programs or services that affect people in care relationships.

Policy purpose

The purpose of the Act is to recognise, promote and value the role of people in care relationships. It formally acknowledges the important contribution that people in care relationships make to our community and the unique knowledge that carers hold of the person in their care.

Legislation and /or regulation

  • A carer is anyone who provides care to another person in a care relationship including carers under the age of 18 years. The Act does not apply to people employed to provide care services, or people who provide care as part of professional training or as a volunteer for an organisation.
  • A care relationship exists where the person being cared for is an older person, or a person with a disability, a mental illness or an ongoing medical condition. The Act also includes situations where someone is being cared for under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (external link, opens in a new window), in a foster, kinship or permanent care arrangement.

Organisation requirements

Care support organisations are required to take all practical measures to comply with the care relationship principles in the Act and to reflect them when developing and implementing support for people in care relationships.
Organisations must prepare a report on their compliance with the Act, to be included in their annual report. This may be as simple as a paragraph describing the activity undertaken over the year to comply with the Act.

The Carers Recognition Act 2012 (external link, opens in a new window)(the Act) came into effect on 1 July 2012. The purpose of the Act is to recognise, promote and value the role of people in care relationships. It formally acknowledges the important contribution that people in care relationships make to our community and the unique knowledge that carers hold of the person in their care.

For the purposes of the Act, a care relationship exists where the person being cared for is an older person, or a person with a disability, a mental illness or an ongoing medical condition. The Act also includes situations where someone is being cared for under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, in a foster, kinship or permanent care arrangement.

Care support organisations that must comply with the Act include state government departments, local councils and public service care agencies and their sub-contractors that provide programs or services that affect people in care relationships. These organisations are required to take all practical measures to comply with the care relationship principles in the Act and to reflect them when developing and implementing support for people in care relationships.

Examples of organisations funded by the Department of Health & Human Services that must comply with the Act include:

  • Registered Disability Services Organisations
  • Home based care providers including foster care, therapeutic foster care, kinship care and permanent care
  • Support for Carers Program providers
  • Home and Community Care Program providers
  • Public clinical mental health services, community managed mental health services and alcohol and drug service providers
  • Community Palliative Care and Statewide Palliative Care service providers

The Act also specifies that care support organisations must prepare a report on their compliance with the Act, to be included in their annual report. This may be as simple as a paragraph describing the activity undertaken over the year to comply with the Act.

Further information about the Act can be found at www.dhs.vic.gov.au/carersact (external link, opens in a new window). The information includes the fact sheet: Responsibilities and obligations of governments and organisations which provides guidance for organisations bound by the Act.

4.24 Hoarding and squalor resources

Hoarding and squalor - practical resource and key messages statement for service providers

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

The Department of Health and Human Services developed these practical resources to assist and guide multiple service providers, from multiple sectors, supported by all government departments, to appropriately respond to and manage situations involving people with hoarding behaviour or a squalid living environment, and associated circumstances.

Policy purpose

  • Life situations involving hoarding behaviour and squalid living environments are complex and generally need to involve a broad range of service providers.
  • The aim of a service response, particularly one that relates to complex life situations, is to enable and empower the person to act on their own behalf, to exercise their rights and be confident of the services and resources available to assist them.
  • This practical resource does not attempt to define any aspect of diagnosis or clinical intervention, as that skill and responsibility lies in the professional areas of psychology, psychiatry, psychogeriatrics and geriatrics, as well as the broader ambit of mental health.

Legislation and /or regulation

Not applicable

Organisation requirements

Government funded organisations and businesses can refer to this best practice resource to:

  • develop capacity to work together when responding to such situations involving hoarding behaviour or squalid living conditions
  • better understand practical service response requirements to these complex life situations
  • to actively respond and no longer ignore such cases.

People of all ages, including children, may display hoarding behaviour or live in squalor.

These two publications (June 2013), a Hoarding and squalor practical resource for service providers and a Responding to hoarding and squalor – Key messages statement for service providers, are applicable to multiple sectors, programs and services.

These hoarding and squalor resources are available at: https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/ageing-and-aged-care/wellbeing-and-participation/hoarding-and-squalor (external link, opens in a new window).

For further information

Alison Beckett, Senior Policy Adviser, Policy and Analysis Unit, Ageing and Aged Care Branch Telephone: (03) 9096 7924
Email: alison.beckett@dhhs.vic.gov.au

4.25 Child Safe Standards

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

The Standards apply to organisations as a whole, not only the areas that work with children.

Phase 1: Organisations that provide services for children that are government funded and/or regulated are required to work towards compliance from 1 January 2016 (Category 1 organisations). These organisations include schools, out-of-home care providers, early childhood providers and health services.

Phase 2: The Standards will apply to other organisations that provide services for children from 1 January 2017 (Category 2 organisations). These organisations include religious, sporting and volunteer organisations.

Policy purpose

The Child Safe Standards are designed to help protect children from all forms of abuse by setting compulsory minimum standards that apply to organisations that provide services for children.

Legislation and /or regulation

The Child Wellbeing and Safety Amendment (Child Safe Standards) Act 2015 (external link, opens in a new window) underpins the Standards and came into effect on 1 January 2016.

Organisation requirements

The Child Safe Standards are compulsory for all organisations in scope, but not prescriptive to allow organisations flexibility in how they implement the Standards.

Organisations should review their existing policies and identify where they need to take further action to comply with the Standards. A self-assessment tool is available on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website as part of An overview of the Victorian child safe standards (external link, opens in a new window).

Child Safe Standards

To help protect children from abuse, the Victorian Government has introduced compulsory minimum Child Safe Standards (the Standards) that apply to organisations that provide services for children.

Who do the Standards apply to?

From 1 January 2016 the Standards apply to organisations that provide services for children that are government funded and/or regulated (Category 1 organisations). These organisations include schools, out-of-home care providers, early childhood providers and health services.

Refer to the Department of Health and Human Services webs page In scope organisations for child safe standards (external link, opens in a new window) for the full list of organisations to which the Standards apply.

What are the Standards?

The Child Safe Standards are as follows:

To create and maintain a child safe organisation, an entity to which the Standards apply must have:

Standard 1: Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements

Standard 2: A child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety

Standard 3: A code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children

Standard 4: Screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel

Standard 5: Processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse

Standard 6: Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse

Standard 7: Strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.

In complying with the Child Safe Standards, an entity to which the Standards apply must include the following principles as part of each Standard:

  • promoting the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • promoting the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • promoting the safety of children with a disability.

What are organisations required to do?

The Standards are compulsory for all organisations in scope, but not prescriptive. This allows the diverse range of organisations in scope some flexibility in how they meet requirements of the Standards.  

An Overview for the Victorian Child Safe Standards (external link, opens in a new window) provides a non-exhaustive list of example measures that organisations could put in place to meet each of the Standards.

Further information

The Commission for Children and Young People is the lead capacity building body for the Standards. For further information, contact the Commission’s information line: childsafestandards@ccyp.vic.gov.au or telephone (03) 8601 5884.

Refer to the Department of Health and Human Services (external link, opens in a new window) website for further information about the Standards. You can also email childsafestandards@dhhs.vic.gov.au 

Department of Education and Training

To help protect children from abuse, the Victorian Government has introduced compulsory minimum Child Safe Standards (the Standards) that apply to organisations that provide services for children.

Who do the Standards apply to?

From 1 January 2016 the Standards apply to organisations that provide services for children that are government funded and/or regulated (Category 1 organisations). These organisations include schools, out-of-home care providers, early childhood providers and health services.

What are the Standards?

The Child Safe Standards are as follows:

To create and maintain a child safe organisation, an entity to which the Standards apply must have:

Standard 1: Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements

Standard 2: A child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety

Standard 3: A code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children

Standard 4: Screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel

Standard 5: Processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse

Standard 6: Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse

Standard 7: Strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.

In complying with the Child Safe Standards, an entity to which the Standards apply must include the following principles as part of each Standard:

  • promoting the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • promoting the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • promoting the safety of children with a disability.

What are organisations required to do?

The Standards are compulsory for all organisations in scope, but not prescriptive. This allows the diverse range of organisations in scope some flexibility in how they meet requirements of the Standards.

An Overview for the Victorian Child Safe Standards (external link, opens in a new window) provides a non-exhaustive list of example measures that organisations could put in place to meet each of the Standards.

Early childhood services

From 1 January 2016 all early childhood services operating under the National Quality Framework (NQF) and the Children’s Services Act 1996 (external link, opens in a new window) have been required to meet the child safe standards.

The existing regulatory framework set out in the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (external link, opens in a new window) and the Children’s Services Act 1996 will be used to regulate compliance with the child safety standards of services operating under those Acts.

The Department of Education and Training’s Quality Assessment and Regulation Division (QARD) will have primary responsibility for ensuring compliance in the early childhood sector.

Further information

The Commission for Children and Young People is the lead capacity building body for the Standards. For further information, contact the Commission’s information line by email childsafestandards@ccyp.vic.gov.au or telephone (03) 8601 5884.

Refer to the Department of Health and Human Services (external link, opens in a new window) website for further information about the Standards. You can also email childsafestandards@dhhs.vic.gov.au 

Contacts

Early childhood services operating under the National Quality Framework or the Children's Services Act 1996 should contact:
Email: licensed.childrens.services@edumail.vic.gov.au
Licensed children's services enquiry line: 1300 307 415

Other organisations providing services for children can contact the Department of Health and Human Services for further information:
Telephone: (03) 9096 0000.
Email: childsafestandards@dhhs.vic.gov.au

4.26 Fraud and Corruption Control Framework

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to all department staff, executive officers, contractors, service providers, consultants and funded organisations.

Policy purpose

To provide guidance and support to funded organisations and to ensure they are pro-active in their reporting and management of reports of fraud and/or corruption.

Legislation and /or regulation

The Framework has been developed to ensure departmental compliance with the Standing Directions of the Minister for Finance 2016 (external link, opens in a new window) (under the Financial Management Act 1994) sections:

  • 3.5.3 Significant or Systemic Fraud
  • 3.5.3 (a) Corruption and Other Losses.

The Standing Directions are made under the Financial Management Act 1994 and are to be read in conjunction with the Instructions that support the Standing Directions. Departmental compliance with legislative and/or regulatory requirements requires the establishment of processes and controls regarding oversight of fraud and corruption events involving public money.

Organisation requirements

Paragraph 4.4.2. of the Fraud and Corruption Control Framework requires funded organisations to report suspected fraud and corruption within their organisation to the Department of Health and Human Services. Funded organisations are, as part of governance arrangements with the department, required to have in place their own reporting, investigation and fraud risk management strategies.

Part of the purpose of the Fraud and Corruption Control Framework is to provide clear guidance to funded organisations to ensure that they are pro-active in their reporting and management of reports of fraud and/or corruption.

Fraud and Corruption Control Framework

Fraud and Corruption Control Framework - Prevention, Reporting and Investigation Plan (opens in a new window, Word 372 KB)

4.27 Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Policy

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to organisation funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Policy purpose

To ensure that organisations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services are aware of the department’s expectations around funded organisations providing gifts, benefits and hospitality to department staff.

Legislation and /or regulation

Standing Directions of the Minister for Finance 2016.

Organisation requirements

Organisations are expected not to:

  • offer department staff gifts or benefits, either directly or indirectly, and offers of hospitality will be limited to token offers of basic courtesy (such as tea and coffee during a meeting); or
  • take any action in order to entice or obtain any unfair or improper advantage.

Background

According to the Standing Directions of the Minister for Finance 2016, Victorian government departments are required to develop and implement a gifts, benefits and hospitality policy applying prescribed minimum accountabilities. The minimum accountabilities can be summarised as:

Public officials offered gifts, benefits and hospitality:

  • do not, for themselves or others, seek or solicit gifts, benefits and hospitality.
  • refuse all offers of gifts, benefits and hospitality that:
    • are money, items used in a similar way to money, or items easily converted to money;
    • give rise to an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest;
    • may adversely affect their standing as a public official or which may bring their public sector employer or of the public sector into disrepute; or
    • are non-token offers without a legitimate business benefit.
  • Declare all non-token offers (valued at $50 or more) of gifts, benefits and hospitality (whether accepted or declined) on their organisation’s register, and seek written approval from their manager or organisational delegate to accept any non-token offer.
  • Refuse bribes or inducements and report inducements and bribery attempts to the head of the department or their delegate (who should report any criminal or corrupt conduct to Victoria Police or the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission).

Implementation

To increase transparency, accountability and improve certainty regarding expectations of departmental staff and public officials the department has introduced a revised policy (in 2016) on gifts, benefits and hospitality.

The policy embodies the minimum accountabilities. It states that employees must refuse all offers of gifts, benefits or hospitality from people or organisations about whom they are likely to make decisions involving; tender processes, including managing a contract once the tender process has ceased, procurement, enforcement, licensing, or regulation, awarding of grants, sponsorship or funding allocations to agencies or organisations.

In many instances offers from organisations will be required to be declined but may nevertheless trigger an internal administrative process for the department. In many circumstances the details of the offer will be required to be recorded on a publically available register regardless of whether they have been accepted or declined.

The policy embeds a culture of integrity to mitigate risks associated with the offering and receipt of gifts, benefits and hospitality.

To support the implementation of this policy, funded organisations are expected not to:

  • offer department staff gifts or benefits, either directly or indirectly, and offers of hospitality will be limited to token offers of basic courtesy (such as tea and coffee during a meeting); or
  • take any action in order to entice or obtain any unfair or improper advantage.

Further information

Name: Charmaine Harris
Title: Principal Integrity Advisor, Corporate Integrity
Telephone: 9096 0040
Email: corporate.integrity@dhhs.vic.gov.au