Victoria to establish new, stronger social services regulator

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday August 4, 2021

The swastika ban is the first law of its kind to be proposed in an Australian state or territory. (Stephane Debove/Adobe)

The Victorian government has announced it will establish a new social services watchdog with stronger enforcement powers to better protect vulnerable members of the community.

The new entity will replace the existing Human Services Regulator, and will be established under the Social Services Regulation Act, which will be introduced into Parliament today.

Disability, ageing and carers minister Luke Donnellan said the proposed reforms would streamline the existing regulation of social services and establish a single set of standards and a single registration process.

The current Human Services Regulator is Anthony Kolmus. The state government has not yet announced who will lead the new regulator.

The government has said the new entity would provide decision-making separation between the responsibilities of the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing and regulatory decisions exercised by the regulator.

The regulator would be empowered to identify service delivery problems and work with providers to improve standards, issue fines to providers, and de-register organisations for serious non-compliance, according to Donnellan.

“A new regulator will boost oversight to ensure Victorians can have comfort they are protected across all social services,” he said.

“New, stronger powers will mean the independent regulator has more tools to take action when providers are not doing the right thing by their clients.”

The regulator would oversee a range of support services that are delivered by more than 1200 organisations. These services include family violence, homelessness, Supported Residential Services, children youth and families, and disability services not within the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The new reforms would also simplify the system for organisations that must comply with more than one regulatory scheme by enabling the regulator to recognise other schemes.

The changes have been developed following two years of consultation with service users and providers. Donnellan said these stakeholders would also contribute to developing regulations for the new regulator.

The new scheme will be phased in from July 2023 to give time for the sector to transition to the new arrangements.

Read more: Major Victorian government department split in two, new secretary appointed


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