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Delayed commencement of the social services regulatory scheme
A Bill to delay commencement of the scheme passed Parliament on 1 September 2022. This means that the new social services regulatory scheme will begin on 1 July 2024.
About the new regulatory framework
The Social Services Regulation Act 2021 establishes a new framework for social services in Victoria.
The initiatives in the Act will:
- support the safe delivery of social services
- ensure providers understand their role to protect an individual's human rights (i.e. users of social services)
- define roles and responsibilities of service providers
- give the new regulator monitoring and enforcement powers, so they can respond to risk of harm
- improve information sharing between regulators so they can identify and respond to any risks of harm to service users.
The new system will mean Victorian social service providers will have:
- streamlined registration and reporting requirements,
- a common set of social service standards, and
- a single independent regulator.
The Social Services Regulator will replace the current Human Services Regulator. The new regulator will be appointed in the second half of 2023.
The Worker and Carer Exclusion Scheme will replace the existing Victorian Carer Register. Service providers will need to ask the new regulator to check a worker or carer against the database before they employ them. This will ensure workers and carers in out-of-home care settings do not pose a risk of harm to service users.
The new system will be more efficient and create a safer environment for all Victorians.
Who the new regulatory framework affects
Services within the scope of the new regulatory framework include:
- some services the department delivers, including child protection services and secure welfare services
- out of home care services for children and young people
- community-based child and family services including early parenting, intake services, Aboriginal child specialist advice support services and counselling services
- disability services offered or funded by the department, or funded by the Transport Accident Commission or WorkSafe
- supported residential services
- family violence services such as case management, support, and accommodation services (for those experiencing family violence) and services for perpetrators
- sexual assault services such as specialist services for survivors of sexual assault and specialist harmful sexual behaviour services
- homelessness support services such as assessment, support, and accommodation services.
Consultation and engagement
Social Services Regulation Taskforce
The Social Services Regulation Taskforce supports and guides the development of the regulations.
Adjunct Professor Ms Susan Pascoe AM chairs the taskforce. Ms Pascoe has an extensive background in government and non-government sectors. She represents many boards including, the Board of Mercy Health. She is also the first Commissioner for the charity's regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. Ms Pascoe is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Australia.
Taskforce representatives have a deep knowledge of social services and help consult with the sector. Representatives include users and providers, a First Nations representative, and a regulatory expert.
To help develop the legislation the department consulted with key stakeholders. An external consultant developed the Regulatory Impact Statement, which supports the draft regulations. Service providers informed the cost benefit analysis of the draft regulations, which is a key part of the Regulatory Impact Statement.
The department will continue to consult with internal and external stakeholders and across government.
The following are indicative timelines for the new regulatory scheme to operate:
|Late 2021||Passage of legislation|
|April 2022||Establishment of a taskforce to inform draft regulations|
|2022-2023||Targeted consultation and information sessions|
|Mid 2023||Publish draft regulations and regulatory impact statement for public comment|
|Second half of 2023||Regulator appointed|
|Late 2023||Publish final regulations|
|1 July 2024||
Commencement of the scheme for all in scope social services.
Worker and carer exclusion scheme commences, replacing the existing carers register.
Access the Social Services Regulation Act 2021.
General enquiries email: email@example.com
A PowerPoint presentation from our public information sessions is also available. If you would like to receive a copy of the presentation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently asked questions
Every Victorian deserves to be able to access the social services they need safely.
The government is setting up a new Social Services Regulator to oversee social services with the primary consideration of reducing or preventing harms to social service users. The new system will also streamline registration and reporting requirements for most social service providers so they can focus on frontline service delivery.
Currently, the Disability Act 2006, Supported Residential Services Act 2010, and the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, provide different registration, reporting and regulatory requirements. This means that there are different rules in place for different service providers depending on which Act they are registered under. The differences in each Act also mean that some service providers are subject to overlapping regulatory schemes, resulting in duplication of reporting requirements.
The Act proposes extensive amendments to existing legislation to streamline registration, reporting and regulation to promote the safe delivery of social services and protect the rights of service users. This will minimise risks of avoidable harm and improve the quality of social services.
Delayed commencement of the social services regulatory scheme
A Bill to delay commencement of the scheme passed Parliament on 1 September 2022. This means that the new social services regulatory scheme will now commence on 1 July 2024 for all social service providers within the scope of the scheme.
The following are updated timelines for the new regulatory scheme to operate:
- 1 July 2024 - Worker and carer exclusion scheme commences, replacing the existing carers register
- 1 July 2024 - Commencement of the scheme for all in scope social services.
The delayed commencement of the scheme to 1 July 2024 provides additional time for providers to understand their compliance obligations and for the Social Services Regulator to prepare for transition. For service providers who have not previously needed to register, such as family violence, sexual assault and homelessness support services, the passage of the Bill to delay commencement recognises they may need extra time to comply with the new registration requirements.
The worker and carer exclusion scheme is designed to address risks posed by individual workers and carers that require additional interventions. Service providers will ask the Regulator to check a worker or carer against the excluded worker and carer database, before engaging the person for the first time.
The social services sector has reported gaps, inconsistencies in regulation, unnecessary regulatory overlaps and complex requirements.
There are many social service providers that provide services across different areas. They are currently subject to multiple regulatory schemes, leading to regulatory burden. The new changes will provide flexibility for regulatory bodies to work together to maximise safeguards, while at the same time minimising duplication of reporting for most service providers.
Strengthening the regulatory framework for social services providers is an opportunity to promote the safe delivery of social services and protect the rights of service users to minimise the risks of avoidable harm.
Between 2019 and 2021, the department consulted key stakeholders including representatives of the social services sector and services users, which informed the development of the legislation.
In April 2022, the Victorian Government established a taskforce to help develop and guide the regulations required to operationalise the new scheme. The taskforce is a key consultation mechanism with the social services sector. To inform their work, taskforce members are consulting as appropriate with social service providers, service users and experts.
We will continue to consult with stakeholders internally, externally and across government in 2023.
In mid-2023, the Regulatory Impact Assessment and draft regulations will be published for public consultation. This will provide an opportunity for stakeholders including providers, social service users, advocates, and the Victorian community to provide feedback in relation to the draft regulations before they are made in late 2023.