human services quality standards

Standard for Therapeutic Communities and Residential Rehabilitation Services

This standard is for organisations providing services to adults, young people, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are resident members within a Therapeutic Community or a Residential Rehabilitation Service.

Certification against the Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA) Standard for Therapeutic Communities and Residential Rehabilitation Services (STCRRS) is a three-year cycle involving an initial two-stage certification process and a mid-cycle maintenance audit. There are two levels of certification under this Standard: Residential Rehabilitation Service and Therapeutic Community.

Certification against the ATCA Standard is a condition of membership for those organisations that are current or applying to become members of the Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association.

Certification as a Residential Rehabilitation Service involves a set of indicators (criteria 1 – 6) directly applicable to a residential rehabilitation service for alcohol and other drug use.

Certification as a Therapeutic Community involves a set of indicators (criteria 1 – 13) including Performance Objective 7.1 Community as Method which must be achieved.
For both Residential Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Community Certification, 80% of all criteria labelled as ‘essential’ must be met.

The 3rd edition of the Standard includes Expectation 14 which addresses Governance and Financial Management. Assessment against this expectation is optional, however for organisations choosing to do so, full industry accreditation may be achieved.

There is a further set of good practice criteria which are suitable for organisations that have undergone other quality certification programs and have exceeded the requirements for the essential criteria.



The initial certification is conducted as a two-stage process. The Stage 1 audit involves a review of documentation by the Audit Team to determine your organisation’s readiness to proceed to the Stage 2 certification audit. Your organisation will be provided with advice on areas of potential nonconformity with the standards. These should be addressed prior to the Stage 2 audit. The process may be conducted on or off-site, IHCA will discuss this with you.


The on-site certification assessment will be conducted according to a documented audit plan, which will be developed in consultation with your organisation.

The Assessment Team will comprise an auditor(s) who verify your organisational work practices by reviewing your policies, procedures and records, conducting interviews with board, management, staff and residents. An ATCA approved Technical Expert will interview service users and other stakeholders as appropriate, review service user files and observes the conduct of activities onsite.

Surveillance Assessment

The mid-cycle assessment is undertaken eighteen months after the certification audit. It includes review of your self-assessment to the Standard, and any declared changes that represent risk to safety and quality. The Assessor will review this information and recommend if ongoing certification is appropriate.

An onsite maintenance assessment will occur at your organisation’s request, or if IHCA Certification determines it necessary to maintain confidence of continuing conformity.

A report will be provided to you with feedback regarding the results of these assessments.

Corrective action planning

Where a nonconformity is identified, your organisation will need to develop a corrective action plan before being eligible for certification. The Lead Auditor will advise your organisation on the timeframes for completion of corrective action at the closing meeting.

Formal certification decision and registration

IHCA Certification will provide a final written report to your organisation, which will be formally certified against the Standard if there are no nonconformities or where corrective action requirements have been met. Upon certification, your organisation will be issued with a Certificate of Registration confirming your organisation’s conformance to the standards and the right to use IHCA Certification’s distinctive symbol in promotional activities.

IHCA Certification will also add your organisation’s name to the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JASANZ) register of certified organisations, which is publicly accessible on the JASANZ website:


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