The National Accreditation Scheme is an industry-based certification process for our sector that supports and recognises good practice in the delivery of community legal services.
Community Legal Centres Australia works in partnership with the state and territory peaks to deliver the National Accreditation Scheme across the sector and oversees national implementation. Our Capacity Building team is responsible for implementing the scheme and the project lead is Meg Houston, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Accreditation Scheme provides a quality assurance process that gives community legal centres, funding bodies and clients confidence that our members are operating according to good practice and industry standards.
The scheme promotes a culture of continuous quality improvement. Accreditation is a statement of service quality which should give confidence to clients and communities. It is also a critically important means by which we protect the community legal centre brand: if a centre is accredited, clients, communities, funding bodies, and other stakeholders, can be assured it has been through a rigorous assessment process and deemed by qualified reviewers to meet key performance standards.
Our accreditation project gives us valuable insights into centres’ strengths and any vulnerabilities, highlighting sector training needs so that we can tailor our sector capacity building accordingly.
Centres are assessed against the standards and requirements of the scheme by a reviewer from their state peak (in the case of NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia) or Community Legal Centres Australia (for centres in the ACT, Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania). There are seventeen standards which cover governance and organisational management, service delivery, accessibility and client feedback.
Centres which successfully undergo the assessment process are awarded certification and a licence to use the certification trademark for three years; they must meet certification requirements including regular reporting on any agreed improvement plan.
In 2019, we launched Phase 3 (or the third cycle) of the National Accreditation Scheme.
In 2023, we will begin the fourth cycle of the scheme, which is under development in consultation with a sector-wide National Accreditation Scheme Review Working Group. We are building a new National Accreditation Scheme portal to facilitate centres’ access to their accreditation documents.
Community Legal Centres Australia meets monthly with the Regional Accreditation Coordinators from the peaks in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia to discuss the status of assessments in their state, any trends and issues identified, and implementation nationally. We also provide ongoing support to the Regional Accreditation Coordinators and State Certifiers and assist with recruitment and induction.
For more information and resources on the NAS, please log in to our User Portal.