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Australian Service Excellence Standards accreditation for homelessness providers

From 30 June 2023, all DCJ-funded NSW homelessness providers will hold a minimum of certificate level accreditation against the Australian Service Excellence Standards (ASES). The decision to adopt the ASES was made by DCJ in April 2018 following consultation with the sector.

The ASES Policy Framework: Implementing a new quality framework for specialist homelessness services in NSW outlines the policy intent, contractual requirement and high level process for funded homelessness services to achieve ASES accreditation by 30 June 2023.


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.

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.

Providers will be able to see similarities between ASES and other accreditations they hold in the Breaking New Ground Service Provider Portal. Many providers used this portal when they completed the self-assessment against the SHS Standards. This means many providers are familiar with the portal they can use for ASES accreditation and can review and update evidence already contained within the portal.

More information on ASES is available on the ASES website

What is the ASES pilot?

DCJ and the NSW Industry Partnership are working with the sector to build the capacity of organisations to achieve ASES accreditation.  A pilot of the process   began in October 2018.

The pilot is testing all aspects of the accreditation process, with 11 organisations working towards achieving ASES accreditation and testing the usefulness and relevance of existing support and resources. At the end of the pilot, participants will have their experience turned into a case study that will become a resource for the rest of the sector.

The pilot providers have worked one-on-one with an ASES consultant to improve their knowledge of the accreditation process and the standards. The majority of providers have now commenced the self-assessment process and will start engaging assessors shortly.

Draft tools and resources that have been identified by pilot providers are currently being developed.

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 by 31 March 2023.

Organisations accredited before 30 June 2020 will need to undergo another round of accreditation before 2023.

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, organisations will have up to 6 months to complete the actions required prior to achieving accreditation.

Who conducts the external review?

There are eight 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?

DCJ will subsidise the accreditation costs for providers with less than $5m in annual revenue to gain accreditation the first time. Subsequent rounds of accreditation will be the responsibility of these organisations. Providers with more than $5m in annual revenue will be required to pay the assessor’s costs themselves.

Eligible organisations should complete and return the Reimbursement Application Form, along with a detailed invoice and receipt. The form contains all instructions.

DCJ will continue to subsidise access to the Breaking New Ground Service Provider Portal for providers with less than $5m in annual revenue. Many providers have used the portal to conduct the self-assessment against the SHS Standards and will find it makes completing the ASES self-assessment easy because it provides access to the evidence submitted against the SHS Standards, which may only need to be reviewed and updated.

When should providers start the accreditation process?

DCJ encourages providers who are not in the pilot 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 31 March 2023.

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 ASES accreditation

How to get started

DCJ has developed an ASES Checklist to ensure providers are supported to complete the required steps.

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. Register indicative timeframes for the ASES assessment with DCJ and the IP using the ASES process support needs survey online by 1 October 2020.
    The due date has been extended from 1 July to 1 October 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. This date will be reconsidered based on the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19 for our service providers.
  3. Register with the Breaking New Ground (BNG) Standards and Performance Pathways portal to access the Australian Service Excellence Standards mapped against other accreditations. The Industry Partnership is also working with BNG to upload an unmapped version of the ASES so it looks like the Evidence Guide.

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 Register with ASES; BNG Reading Room; or contact Industry Partnership by emailing
ASES workbook Hard copy workbook lets you work through the evidence guide offline Register with ASES
  • BNG SHS Understanding ASES webinar
  • QAS to ASES webinar 22 June and 26 July 2018 webinar
  • About the Standards*
  • About the accreditation process*

NSW Industry Partnership website

*under development

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 

Where can I get more information?

We will continue to provide new information here as it becomes available so be sure to check back regularly. We’ll also be providing regular updates in the DCJ Homelessness Updates Bulletin (HUB) so you will also receive the latest information straight to your inbox. Subscribe to the HUB.

If you have questions or comments, please email

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Last updated: 01 May 2019