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From 30 June 2024, all DCJ-funded NSW homelessness providers will hold a minimum of certificate level accreditation against the Australian Service Excellence Standards (ASES) or equivalent.

The ASES Policy Framework: Implementing a new quality framework for specialist homelessness services in NSW (updated March 2021) outlines the policy intent, contractual requirement and high level process for funded homelessness services to achieve accreditation by 30 June 2024.

March 2021 updates to the ASES Policy Framework include:

  • Time frame extension: due to COVID-19, DCJ has extended the date for all services to become ASES accredited to 30 June 2024.
  • Equivalence recognition: an equivalence recognition approach has been developed to reduce red tape for organisations with other accreditations. The QIC Health and Community Standards (QIC) are also recognised as equivalent to the ASES. A summary of completed equivalency mapping is now in the framework.
  • Higher level of supports for the sector: a new ASES Support Grant has launched for providers with less than $5m in total annual revenue.

Why ASES?

In consultation with peaks and the sector, DCJ considered a number of different accreditation systems. DCJ chose ASES because it is tailored to non-government organisations (NGOs) and it is most similar to the Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) Standards that providers are familiar with. The decision to adopt the ASES was made by DCJ in April 2018, following consultation with the sector.

What is the ASES?

The ASES is a set of standards and national quality improvement program that aims to assist non-government organisations (NGOs) to improve their business systems, management practices and service delivery. The ASES self-assessment is similar to the current self-assessment against the Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) Standards.

More information on ASES is available on the ASES website

How often is accreditation required?

Accreditation is required to be maintained every three years. There will be a phased approach to implementing the new quality framework so that smaller providers have adequate time to complete the requirements.

In recognition of the impact on the SHS Sector in maintaining the delivery of essential services during COVID-19, the date by which all providers must achieve their ASES (or equivalent QIC Health and Community Standards) accreditation has been extended to 30 June 2024.

Organisations accredited before 30 June 2021 will need to undergo another round of accreditation before 2024.

How long will the accreditation process take to complete?

The time it takes will vary between organisations, based on their prior experience with accreditation. However, as a guide, the online self-assessment process and collating the required evidence will take around 12 months to complete. If a quality improvement plan is needed after the external assessment (on site review), organisations will have up to 6 months to complete the actions required prior to achieving accreditation.

Who conducts the external review?

There are thirteen assessment bodies certified to accredit against ASES, each certified for other accreditations and with different cost structures and office locations. Providers should contact assessors directly to discuss their accreditation needs. Contact details are available on the ASES website.

South Australia has produced the How to choose an ASES external assessor guide to help organisations know what to consider when choosing an external assessor.

South Australia has also produced A guide to ASES sampling and scope of assessment so service providers have a better understanding of

  • who in the organisation might need to speak with the assessor during the external review
  • which aspects of accreditation they will likely be discussing

Who pays the accreditation costs?

Providers with less than $5m in total annual revenue – ASES Support Grant

DCJ has made a commitment to subsidise the accreditation costs for providers with less than $5m in total annual revenue to gain accreditation the first time. This support is available to lead providers and their subcontractors. Subsequent rounds of accreditation will be the responsibility of these organisations.

Funding of $16,000 per organisation is now available through the ASES Support Grant.

The Industry Partnership has been engaged by DCJ to administer the ASES Support Grant and to provide tailored support to organisations. For more information, please visit the Industry Partnership website or contact the Industry Partnership at ASESsupport@homelessnessnsw.org.au or (02) 8354 7620.

Providers with more than $5m in total annual revenue

Providers with more than $5m in total annual revenue will be required to pay the assessor’s costs themselves.

When should providers start the accreditation process?

DCJ encourages providers to start the process now, as it can take as long as two years to complete the self-assessment and be ready for external review. DCJ requires providers to have met all requirements for accreditation by 30 June 2024.

The expected timelines for homelessness providers to achieve ASES accreditation are as follows. In 2018/19 a pilot will begin to test the process. In 2019/20 providers can start the process. In 2020/21 40% of providers will be accredited. In 2021/22 70% of providers will be accredited. In 2022/23 100% of providers will be accredited.

Fig 1: Expected timelines for homelessness providers to achieve accreditation

How to get started

The first few steps are to:

  1. Visit the Industry Partnership website to view uploaded webinars and other resources developed specifically to support NSW homelessness providers to achieve ASES accreditation
  2. Complete the ASES process support needs survey to register for support from the Industry Partnership.
  3. Decide when the external assessment and site visit will take place for your organisation. It is recommended that the site visit occurs no later than October 2023.
  4. Decide which assessor your organisation will use. Select an assessor and sign a service agreement. The service agreement will include the dates of your site visit.

Some things to note when planning when your assessment:

  • Site visits generally take 2-3 days to complete depending on the size of the organisation.
  • It is recommended that organisations finalise their ASES assessment by early 2024 and send their ASES (or equivalent QIC Health and Community Standards) accreditation certificate and report to DCJ via the SHSProgram@facs.nsw.gov.au mailbox by 30 April 2024, to allow enough time to meet DCJ timeframes.

Tools and resources to support providers

As other resources and tools are developed, they will also be available on this page.

The table below includes South Australian mentors, whose contact details are available via the link below. A mentor is able to offer knowledge, insight, perspective and wisdom, especially for organisations attempting accreditation for the first time. For more information about mentors, please read the Australian Service Excellence Standards - Mentors guide provided by South Australia.

What

How it helps

Where to get it

Evidence Guides

Help providers know exactly what type of evidence to submit against each Standard for both Certificate and Award level

In the BNG Reading Room; or request one to be sent to you from the Industry Partnership by emailing ASESsupport@homelessnessnsw.org.au

ASES workbook

Hard copy workbook lets you work through the evidence guide offline

Request one to be sent to you from the Industry Partnership by emailing ASESsupport@homelessnessnsw.org.au

Webinars

  • Webinar 1 - Who are the ASES External Assessors?;
  • Webinar 2 - Our ASES Journey;

New webinars will continue to be added to the IP website

NSW Industry Partnership website

Case studies

NSW providers’ experiences

*under development

Mentors

ASES accredited homelessness providers offering one-on-one guidance, support and advice to a provider undertaking accreditation

South Australian ASES mentors

Breaking New Ground Service Provider Portal (BNG SPP)

DCJ will continue to subsidise access to the BNG SPP for providers with less than $5m in annual revenue. Many providers have used the portal to conduct the self-assessment against the SHS Standards.

The Industry Partnership has also worked with BNG to upload an unmapped version of the ASES self-assessment so it corresponds to the ASES Evidence Guide.

Breaking New Ground website

Where can I get more information?

If you have questions or comments, please email SHSProgram@facs.nsw.gov.au.

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Last updated: 01 May 2019