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Quality Assurance

NOVA's 2006 DESQA Audit Report

NOVA Employment is a QA (Quality Assured) organisation. Nova's policies, procedures, and supporting documentation; Individual Job Plans and Job Seeking Sessions; Client Grievance Policy; availability of information on Advocacy Agencies; and the regular Revision of Standards documented in job seeker Files; are integral to the evidence we provide to meet the QA System Audit.

The QA system monitors and measures service providers' performance against internationally recognised standards. A Quality Assured organisation meets government accountability requirements, and demonstrates a commitment to continuing improvement.

Each service is required to present evidence of meeting the standards to an Accredited Certification Body contracted to the Department of Family and Community Services during regular audits.

The Disability Service Standards are a Government initiative designed to improve the quality of services provided to people with a disability and to assist services to meet the principles and objectives of the Disability Services Act, 1986. The implementation of the Disability Service Standards is seen as one of the key elements in the Quality Assurance System.

The correct acronym for Quality Assurance is DESQA. What is DESQA?
A mouthful. It stands for Disability Employment Service Quality Assurance, but it's commonly referred to as QA.

What did QA certification involve for NOVA Employment?
During the time NOVA has been in operation, we have experienced considerable growth. At a certain point, we became a large organisation. To ensure consistency of service delivery across all our branches, we saw the necessity of devoting significant energy and time to unifying and streamlining policies, procedures and processes.

When it came to examining whether we met all the KPI's of QA, we found that for the most part, we were involved in a refining process. We had all the processes and procedures in place � what we needed was physical evidence that could be independently audited. So, we undertook a careful review from the perspective of providing evidence, and made sure the same processes were in place and implemented in all our branches, paying particular attention to our outlying offices.

NOVA Employment's QA certification is carried out by NCSI. The results of our last QA audit can be viewed here.

What do you see as the benefits of QA for your organisation?
QA is an evidence based system, whereas the old self-assessment system was perhaps more subjective, rather than objective. QA has helped us to think objectively about our service, and focus on ways to improve.

To become QA certified all members of the organisation had to play a role. This helped us become an organisation that values the contribution of each person. Our staff feel empowered by providing input, and we receive valuable feedback and suggestions for revision and improvement from the people doing the job. Everyone wins.

Through QA, we have become an organisation with a high degree of input and consensus from the board, staff, employers, and most importantly, job seekers.

What is meant by the term 'Continuous Improvement' and how does it relate to QA?
Continuous improvement is an ethos that involves the on-going review and improvement of service delivery processes. Because of the thoroughness of the QA audit, areas of improvement are first internally identified, and then independently identified, and then acted upon.

What does QA mean for the people who are on the receiving end of your policies and procedures for service delivery � your job seekers?
Three things are immediately obvious. Through QA they are guaranteed:
*A minimum level of service
*That NOVA meets the Disability Service Standards
*That we are committed to meeting legislative requirements

While QA guarantees a minimum standard of service delivery across NOVA's outlets, our aim is to provide a quality personalised service, and achieve high quality outcomes for our job seekers.

Can you give a practical example?
Well, while QA is excellent for checking NOVA's internal processes, the current QA format does not require the input of family supports or employers. So in order to capture their experiences, NOVA uses a series of feedback forms designed to ensure each person's viewpoint counts. This checks that we produce a quality outcome for the job seeker, and gives us a total overview of our service's impact.

Can you give us any advice if we are having challenges meeting QA audits and processes?
The chief piece of advice we could share is to check your procedures as thoroughly as you can. Also, view the QA process as a positive one. In the long-term, it will be an advantage to your service because it assists you to identify areas needing improvement.

NOVA made a commitment to viewing QA positively, and in 2000 we volunteered to participate in the early trials. Though initially daunting, because of the processes we already had in place, it wasn't half as frightening as it looked.

Let's face it, we want to provide the best quality service we can, and we have found this whole experience to be a positive one for our organisation.
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