Key messages

  • The Health Services Act 1988 governs the operation of community health centres.
  • Community health centres must register with the Department of Health & Human Services.
  • Victorian registered community health centres comply with performance standards.
  • CHCs report annually at the beginning of the financial year, to confirm they remain compliant with standards.
  • The Australian Centre for Healthcare Governance supports healthcare services to practice good governance.

The Health Services Act 1988 provides a framework for community health centre (CHC) governance and accountability. The framework includes a voluntary registration scheme and performance standards.

Registration

Community health centres that are not part of a health service register with the Department of Health & Human Services to receive funding for community and dental health programs.

In line with the Health Services Act 1988, the department maintains a register of CHCs. The register records:

  • the name of each registered CHC
  • the address of each registered CHC
  • contact information for each registered CHC
  • names and contact details of board members.

CHCs can apply to register. Currently there are 32 CHCs that are registered to receive community health and dental funding from the department. They are subject to ongoing performance monitoring under the legislation and their funding and service agreement with the department.

Registered CHCs operate as companies limited by guarantee. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission website explains ASIC requirements for such companies.

Notifying the department of significant changes

Each registered CHC is required to notify the Department of Health & Human Services within 30 days every time a significant change occurs to their organisation’s governance, management or core operating policies; for example:

  • significant changes to the constitution and legal status of the registered CHC, such as changes to the company’s objects or the number, type and pecuniary interests of directors
  • major changes to the service profile of the registered CHC that would impact on performance targets
  • any events that were reported to the registered CHC’s insurer
  • borrowings including finance leases and bank overdrafts of 8 per cent of total departmental funding or $500k, whichever is lower
  • changes to financial viability or risk management processes
  • changes in accreditation status of the registered CHC.

Performance standards 

Victoria's registered community health centres (CHCs) must comply with performance standards in the following five areas:

  • governance
  • management
  • financial management
  • risk management
  • quality accreditation and service delivery.

Annual reporting

Each registered CHC is required to write to the department 30 days after the commencement of each financial year, confirming that their organisation has complied with all performance standards over the previous twelve months.

Correspondence in both these cases should be addressed to the Director, Health and Aged Care at the appropriate regional office of the department.

Governance resources 

The Australian Centre for Healthcare Governance (ACHG) helps the healthcare sector know more about governance. It also guides and supports healthcare organisations in meeting their significant governance responsibilities. It offers, for example, opportunities for individuals and groups to participate in governance forums and networks.

The Health Service Governance website does not specifically cover registered CHCs, but it provides useful guidelines and resources on governance.