Victorian Social Services Regulator appointed
The Victorian Government has appointed Jonathan Kaplan as the new Social Services Regulator.
The new regulator, which replaces the Human Services Regulator, was created to streamline regulation of services and reduce red tape. The appointment comes ahead of the introduction of new Social Service standards and a single registration process for Victorian-funded community organisations on 1 July.
Among the regulator’s responsibilities is to oversee disability services that are not part of the NDIS.
NDS notes this announcement and other changes on the way, including a new complaints function for the regulator and its absorption of regulatory bodies.
We urge the government to continue to align Victorian regulation with any future federal registration scheme that arises from the Disability Royal Commission and NDIS Review recommendations.
Mr Kaplan is a seasoned public servant with a record of senior leadership positions across government in regulation, dispute resolution, policy and corporate governance. Most recently, he has been the CEO of the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, which regulates education and training in schools and vocational education and training providers. As the education sector regulator for child-safe standards, he has worked with a diverse range of stakeholders and co-regulators in a complex environment.
Mr Kaplan started the job on 5 February.
New complaints function
The Government has also announced that it will introduce a new complaints function for the regulator to improve safeguards for Victorians who use social services.
Because of the potential for confusion and duplication, NDS believes it will be critical that this function is coordinated with the many other disability complaints processes.
Mergers of other regulatory bodies
When the regulator begins on 1 July, it will absorb the functions of the Disability Services Commissioner and operate a new regulatory scheme for social services, subject to legislation being passed by parliament.
Currently, the Disability Services Commissioner is empowered by Section 16 of the Disability Act 2006 to assess, conciliate or investigate complaints in disability services.
Eventually, the functions of the Victorian Disability Worker Commission and the Disability Worker Registration Board of Victoria will also merge into the Social Services Regulator. This is likely to happen in 2026 — again, subject to the passage of the necessary legislation.
The Victorian Government has planned a staggered registration process for the new regulatory scheme. Providers already registered under the Disability Act will automatically transition to the new system on 1 July.
Those disability services funded by the Transport Accident Commission or WorkSafe that are not registered under the Disability Act will be invited to apply for registration from 1 April 2025.
For service providers who are not currently required to be registered, the regulator will consider previous evidence of the provider’s compliance with the Human Services Standards. This includes certification by an independent review body that a service is compliant with these standards. This may include registration with the NDIS.
However, the new regulator is independent in assessing and monitoring the quality of services and will not rely on other accreditation systems in evaluation.
A factsheet, along with detailed information about these reforms, is available on the Social Services Regulation Reform webpage.