Author: 
Liza Moore, Quality and Safety Advisor - MS Queensland
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Effective governance structures create direction, purpose and value. They offer frameworks for essential systems such as operational efficiency, IT and privacy, financial and risk management, as well as innovation. These together increase the likelihood of the organisation delivering on its purpose. 

We are now in a world where clients are now customers, and the financial bottom line is critically important.  

There is such a range of organisations in the sector that ‘good governance' might look different in different places, and this may vary depending on the nature of activities, location, resources, maturity of the organisation, and the specific legislation. 

The Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF) standard 1 is Governance & Management – the all-important umbrella of accountability under which we are entrusted to provide services to vulnerable people in our community.  

Greater regulation in this sector has been introduced to ‘clean up’ the bad elements – but this also imposes additional new legislation to many organisations in the sector, such as the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission Act 2012. 

It’s clear that a strong charter, strategic direction and firm management are what’s required to ensure that disability sector organisations make a successful transition from our previous funding arrangements to the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) system. 

For our clients those critical elements of freedom of choice, independence, and individual need, get wrapped up in the Governance approach – whether its customers on the board or involved in consultation. 

The HSQF standard 1 outlines the aims of the organisation and its commitment to achieving these goals and for the clients.  

Establishing a framework of excellence and supporting the board and staff members to be able to achieve these goals is of primary importance.  

Consultation in developing key documents is required and wherever possible the quality manager should be an integral part of this process. 

HSQF standard 1 can also be a very dry section that focusses on compliance. A simple overview is a compilation of compliance type documents that every organisation must have and will be checked at each audit: charter/constitution, directors duties/skills, strategic plan, mission statement and vision documents, annual reports and budgets; and criminal screening. 

Internal and external audits assist the organisation to check that the appropriate controls are in place and that systems are being closed out.  

But for me, the question is always 'how do you know what you don’t know?' 

As a Quality Officer it’s important to be involved with various work units and projects, and to be constantly asking questions, so you know what’s going on. Then you can ‘wow’ the auditor at assessment time. 

Go to team meetings and understand what is happening on the ground – so that you can align practice with procedures and policies and strategy documents. 

Whether you are in a quality team or a solo practitioner getting involved in your organisation is a must. 

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About MS Queensland

MS Queensland is a registered non-profit organisation that is the first-choice for MS information, education, treatment, care and support across Queensland.

It's vision is a world free from multiple sclerosis (MS) and its devastating impact.

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