The regulations set out:
- the social services required to comply with the new framework.
- registration requirements for social service providers.
- service requirements that registered social service providers need to meet.
- regulation of out-of-home care workers and carers.
Changes to the Social Services Regulations 2023 from the draft regulations published in May 2023
Twenty-four amendments were made to the draft regulations that were first published with the Regulatory Impact Statement in May 2023. The amendments include changes to service requirements for the social service standards, including:
- removing the specific requirement for premises to have adequate natural light, ventilation, heating and cooling. This is adequately covered by the requirement for safe, secure and fit for purpose premises, facilities and equipment.
- introducing an obligation to inform service users of their right to make a complaint to another entity, such as the Victorian Ombudsman, in addition to raising matters with the Regulator.
- introducing a new requirement under the Cultural Safety and Inclusion service requirement for social service providers to ensure that racism within an organisation is identified and addressed. This aligns with the Aboriginal Cultural Safety and Inclusion service requirement and requires racism to be identified and addressed for all cultures.
- information sharing – prescribing additional agencies that can share information with the Regulator, such as State Trustees and the Registrar of Housing Agencies.
- minor language changes – for example under the description of social services in scope of the scheme, the term ‘support’ has been removed from ‘homelessness support services’ to reflect the broad range of services provided by the sector.
A Statement of Reasons will also be published on the Engage Vic website, detailing:
- matters raised in submissions to the draft regulations and Regulatory Impact Statement
- whether changes to the regulations were made and if not, the rationale for this.
Social Services Regulation Transitional Regulations 2023
In addition to the Social Services Regulations 2023, the Social Services Regulation Transitional Regulations 2023 (Transitional Regulations) have been made and are available on the Victorian legislation website.
The Transitional Regulations set out:
- the mechanism for the transfer of current registrations under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, the Disability Act 2006 and the Supported Residential Services (Private Proprietors) Act 2010 into the new scheme.
- the phased timeframes for existing providers who are not currently registered, to apply for registration under the new scheme. Providers will be able to apply for registration at various times between 1 July 2024 and 30 June 2025 depending on the services they offer, as set out in the Transitional Regulations. The Department will provide advice shortly about the timeframes for applying for registration including the process for providers that offer more than one type of service.
Further information about the social services regulatory scheme including an easy read guide on the Social Service Standards is available on the Department’s webpage.
The Social Services Regulations 2023 are available on the Victorian legislation website.