Regardless of which field this work is applied to, whether in working with people experiencing mental health issues, people with a disability, young people, people who are experiencing homelessness or people experiencing domestic and family violence, the goal is the same: to make a difference in that person’s life. How then do we know if we are making a difference?

For a difference to exist, there has to be a discernable change between the ways things were before and how they are now. One of the ways to identify a movement or an alteration in the state of being of a person, is to consider where they are in their journey – Penna (i) refers to this as their ‘condition’.

What is meant by 'condition'?

"Condition", as in the situation in which the person finds themself is a subjective measure, but it is important to give us an understanding of the current state. Condition is different to a person’s situation. For example, a person may be an alcoholic or they may change that and be a “recovering alcoholic”. By measuring the changes in the person’s situation, services can determine whether individual programs or their organisation as a whole has contributed to a positive change for a person.

Condition, therefore can be a strong indicator of the persons situation, positive or negative.  If condition of an individual is not improved, then their situation may suffer.

If a service works with someone they have successfully helped to a status of recovering alcoholic, it’s important that they also consider the person’s condition. If this does not occur then the service may not recognise that the person’s condition is stable but requires ongoing counselling.  For example; without continued counselling, the recovering alcoholic could have a negative change and revert back to being an alcoholic.

What does this mean in terms of satisfaction?

To be able to identify what is most important to a person in the context of satisfaction, it is necessary to understand and give an indicator of where they are on a continuum. It is not necessary, nor feasible to have established increments for every sector. A standard five stage continuum of stability has been found to suit a wide range of situations and service types.

By working with the person to identify where they are on the continuum provides a useful basis for discussing supports required.

In Crisis

The worst condition on the scale. The person is experiencing most or / all of the worst negative effects of the specific problem. For example a chronically homeless person may be sleeping on the streets in the dead of winter. A habitual substance abuser may be using to the extent that he has lost his job, his licences and  home, A family may be torn by issues of domestic violence. In Crisis condition is bleak.


This is a situation where the worst has not happened yet, or where the worst has been temporarily overcome. The key to the Vulnerable condition description is that things are teetering on the brink & could collapse or return to the In Crisis condition at any time.


The stable situation is one in which circumstances might not be ideal, but at least they are not getting worse at the moment. This is the situation where the corner has been turned & imminent danger is no longer there. At the same time, it is a situation where much remains to be done. The homeless person may have been placed in accommodation, but without continued support may be homeless again soon. The substance abuser may be on track & working, but without support, may slip back into the same patterns of using drugs. This is the situation that says “Our work is only half done”


This is the “We’ve done our job situation” The danger to this person, family or community has passed. While remedial services may no longer be needed, monitoring and perhaps a maintenance program is generally appropriate.


This is situation that begins to approach the ideal conditions. This is the situation where everything is going well, where dangers & threats are no longer in view there the service, or program’s involvement is no longer needed & the situation is self-sustaining.

(i) Penna, R. 2011 The Nonprofit Outcomes Toolbox New Jersy. Wiley & Sons. pp 21.

The Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Approach is how the NDIS is delivering early childhood intervention for children aged 0-6 years. The overall aim of ECEI is to ensure that parents or primary caregivers are able to provide young children who have developmental delay or disabilities with...
Australia’s 600,000 charities and not-for-profits, from international aid groups right down to the local tennis club, have recently received a major boost, as Justice Connect’s Not-for-profit Law service launched the acclaimed Information Hub for a national audience. The Not-for-profit Law...
The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services has released new publications to support the implemention of the Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF) . The documents can be accessed under the Resources and Tools section of the HSQF website . The documents that have been...
Paperdoll circle
The self-assessment workbook is one of a suite of tools created to support service providers to develop and maintain a quality system which conforms to the Human Services Quality Standards (HSQF). The workbook has been designed to assist service providers to review their processes and practices and...
Charities that receive an email regarding their financial information from the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) are being advised not to dismiss it as a scam. The ACNC is contacting thousands of charities that have made significant errors in their financial reporting. The...
During May to July 2015, QCOSS delivered a series of workshops that introduced participants to the Business Development Package, including the online Organisational Development Toolkit, developed as part of the Sector Readiness and Workforce Capacity Initiative. These free workshop were designed to...
Throughout May, June and July 2015, the Human Services Quality Framework team in the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, in partnership with the Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS), delivered presentations to service providers around Queensland through 15 face-...
In the first reading of the 2015 Queensland Budget Speech on 14 July 2015, Treasurer Pitt announced that the Queensland Government will pilot three social benefit bonds aimed at sourcing funds from the private sector to finance the achievement of quantifiable social outcomes in the community. The...
The Gundoo Day Care Centre in Cherbourg have been working with the Indigenous Professional Support Unit from QCOSS over the last two years. They were recently featured in The First Nations Telegraph for their excellent visioning and planning workshops. Find out more: click here
The Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services has developed a series of resources for leading social services staff, and those in related disciplines, to practice in an outcomes-focused way. Leading for Outcomes is a series of guides that provide support and training materials to...
Are you looking for support in Queensland, or trying to find a service that meets your needs? Now you can search oneplace , the service directory hosted by the Queensland Family and Child Commission. oneplace is an easily accessible directory of community services to help Queensland families to get...
QCOSS is running one-on-one support and small group capacity building sessions to assist organisations that are new to HSQF. Assistance is available to organisations funded under the Community Services and Child and Family funding streams. Support includes how to conduct a self-assessment,...
A Blue Card Services online learning portal has been launched. The portal contains 10 videos which provide an overview of the legal requirement for organisations to develop a child and youth risk management strategy. View these resources on the Blue Card Services website .
The Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) has produced the Planned Support Guide: an approach to case management for people working in a wide range of community services. If you are a front line worker, supervisor or manager this guide is for you. The guide assists in the development of a...
Authored by: Craig Ford, Polymorphic Solutions Your community organisation might have run on spreadsheets, shared folders and Access databases until one day, when you realised the systems don’t talk to each other and your organisation can’t grow without a single integrated system. Then it is time...
Children's services need to be aware of a range of legislation that applies to their environment. Depending on the type of service and nature of sponsor body this may include all or some of the following: The Child Care Act & Regulations Services are required to have copies of the Child Care...
There are a range of legal structures which may be suitable for Queensland not-for-profit community groups. The four main options are: an incorporated association: Associations Incorporation Act 1981 (QLD) and Associations Incorporation Regulation 1999 (QLD) a company limited by guarantee:...
Liza Moore, Quality and Safety Advisor - MS Queensland

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

Ula Cavanagh, REFOCUS

REFOCUS Chief Operating Officer Ula Cavanagh was determined to use the Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF) to make the organisation shine.

Based on the Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay and Gympie, REFOCUS specialises in providing services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families...

Decorative image
Richard Fahy, Lutheran Community Care

Information, knowledge and process management focusses on capturing meaningful and relevant data to assist evidencing multiple areas of an organisation. A few key areas may include:

  1. The organisation is on track and demonstrating it is achieving its strategic goals
  2. The
  3. ...
 Charles Clowes
Charles Clowes, Australian Organisation For Quality

Within the organisational development toolkit the capability area of quality systems, innovation and improvement refers to staff and client contribution, innovation, quality culture and management, reporting, adaptability and improvement, legislation and risk management.


Dr Ruth Knight, Zark Consultancy

Like many other community organisations, you are probably being increasingly asked to demonstrate the outcomes of your programs and services. Outcomes measurement allows you to identify which of your programs and services are successful, and helps you to test assumptions and communicate...

Rachel Drew, Director, Mamre Association
Rachel Drew, Mamre Association

Mamre Association is a Brisbane based non-profit organisation supporting families which have children with a disability.  Mamre believes that people with a disability and their families can have rich, full and meaningful lives within their communities and is committed to working with families in...

Craig Blackman, Executive Manager, Share Bayside
Craig Blackman, Share Bayside Inc

Share Bayside Inc provides accommodation and lifestyle services for people with an intellectual disability who live in or around Redland City. They assist people with a disability to live as independently as possible through a range of accommodation options and recreation and social...

Peter Last Manager Anglicare Southern Queensland
Peter Last, Anglicare

Anglicare Southern Queensland is an Anglican not-for-profit organisation committed to social and community welfare issues and aged and community care needs, focusing on disadvantaged members of our community. They provide more than 150 different services across Southern Queensland.


Kylie Hogan, National Disability Services

The Community Services Industry is facing a myriad of reforms and challenges now and into the future. 

Challenges such as an ageing population, workforce shortages, sector-wide reforms, technological advances and economic uncertainty are making it more important than ever for...

See videos from StudioQ related to this topic

Share or Print