Certification - Quality requirements and resources

This information is provided to assist organisations that are required to demonstrate compliance with HSQF through certification against the Human Services Quality Standards (the standards). Certification generally applies for direct service delivery to vulnerable people.

The HSQF User Guide - Certification Version 7.0 (PDF, 1.5 MB) HSQF User Guide - Certification Version 7.0 (DOCX, 3.4 MB) explains each standard in detail and outlines evidence requirements for different service types that are required to demonstrate compliance through certification. 

Certification is granted when an organisation has been assessed by an independent, third-party (known as a certification body) as meeting the standards. Certification indicates that standards are being met and that organisational performance is being enhanced through continuous improvement. Certification occurs over ongoing three-year cycles, with audits approximately every 18 months.  A certification cycle incorporates:

  • a certification/recertification audit
  • a mid-term maintenance audit conducted within 18 months of the certification decision.

Certification bodies are accredited by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) which is the government-appointed body for accrediting and monitoring certification bodies and designing certification systems.

Certification bodies conduct audits in-line with the HSQF Scheme rules.  The HSQF Scheme was developed in partnership with JAS-ANZ and a technical committee involving industry, service providers and technical experts.  Organisations can request a copy of the HSQF Scheme rules (part 1 and 2) from their certification body or access a copy on the JAS-ANZ website.

Organisations are required to contract a JAS-ANZ accredited certification body to assess their suitability for certification. To assist with selection of a certification body that is a good fit for each unique organisation, it is suggested that organisations:

  • request a fee structure and obtain comparative quotes from a number of certification bodies
  • ask the certification bodies about:
    • their experience auditing human services and their depth of knowledge of particular service types
    • their availability to undertake the audit in a suitable timeframe
    • the structure and content of their audit reports
    • their complaints processess and privacy/confidentiality policies
    • their ongoing obligations to the organisations they certify.

It is important that organisations commence the process of engaging a certification body and working through the key steps towards certification at least 12 months before their certification due date.  The Key milestones for acheiving initial HSQF certification (PDF, 176 KB) Key milestones for acheiving initial HSQF certification (DOCX, 110 KB) resource provides an overview of the key steps and guidance on the timeframes to assist organisations achieve certification.

Organisations that are delivering, or wish to, provide child protection placement services and gain an organisational level licence for those services, should review the Child Safety Licensing website.   It provides information about the licencing process and how HSQF certification fits into that process.

HSQF audits provide an opportunity for independent auditors to assess whether an organisation has the systems and practices to ensure effective implementation of the standards, which include important safeguards for people using services. Where gaps or areas for improvement are identified, auditors have a range of options to deal with these including raising an observation, non-conformity or major non-conformity. These will be documented in the audit report and any associated corrective action plan. The HSQF Scheme rules contain further information about these options.

HSQF audits provide service users with an opportunity to share their experiences of the services and supports they receive from their service provider.  The HSQF Audit participation factsheet (PDF, 196 KB) HSQF Audit participation factsheet (DOCX, 282 KB)provides information for service users about participating in a HSQF audit.

During an audit, if an auditor becomes aware of a serious concern, for example client safety or financial impropriety, they are required to refer the matter as a Notifiable Issue to the department/s for investigation. The HSQF audits and notifiable issues factsheet (PDF, 548 KB) HSQF audits and notifiable issues factsheet (DOCX, 254 KB)provides further information about how notifiable issues are handled.

Organisations are an equal partner in the certification process.  If an organisation has questions or concerns regarding their audit findings or any aspect of the certification process, they should follow the process outlined below.  If a concern is not adequately addressed, it can then be escalated to the next level:

  1. discuss the question/concern directly with the auditor
  2. discuss the concern with the certification body
  3. make a complaint to the certification body using their complaints process
  4. make a formal complaint to JAS-ANZ using their process.

At any stage, organisations can also contact the HSQF team to discuss any aspect of the certification process.

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Updated HSQF Resources

Version 7.0 was released on 1 October 2020.