Who should use this HealthCheck tool?
The Healthchecks are designed to help small and medium non-profit organisations measure their governance knowledge, performance, and procedures.
All Healthcheck can be completed by one board member. All Healthchecks can also be completed as a group, where one person initiates the check and invites other people, by email, to complete it. When a group Healthcheck is done, board members are not able to see how other individuals answered the questions. The results received at the end will be an average of everyone’s answers, combined. To learn more, see the question below: HOW ARE RESULTS CALCULATED?
It may be beneficial to have your Finance Manager also involved in completing the Financial Healthcheck.
What happens once I complete the Healthcheck?
What does it cost?
The Governance and Financial Healthchecks are an initiative of the Victorian Council or Social Service, made possible with support from the Helen Smith MacPherson Trust.
The Quality Governance Healthcheck has been developed in partnership the Community Services Quality and Safety Office,Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.
Glossary – Commonly used words in the Healthchecks
Board/Committee of Management
The governing body of an organisation. The board is a collection of individuals (board members) that form the ‘leadership group’ of an organisation. The board is primarily responsible for governing, overseeing the affairs of, and making strategic decisions for an organisation and on behalf of its members. For more information visit NFP Law.
Someone who sits on a board or committee of management may be called a Board Director (also see below, Members).
At its most basic, the term ‘governance’ refers to ‘the action or manner of governing and entity’ eg. an organisation. The Governance Institute of Australia defines governance as:
“Governance encompasses the system by which an organisation is controlled and operates, and the mechanisms by which it, and its people, are held to account. Ethics, risk management, compliance and administration are all elements of governance.”
One of the most valuable asserts of a community service organisation is its reputation. Adhering to sound governance principles and practices will ensure that your organisation will be known as a good and worthwhile community services agency.
The three Healthchecks each examine a different form of governance:
- General board governance (‘good’ governance)
- Financial governance
- Quality governance
Learn more about each below.
General board governance
General board governance refers to the board’s responsibility for the management and strategic direction of the organisation and for delivering accountable performance in accordance with the organisation’s goals and objectives. This includes working to the organisation’s constitution, or in the enabling legislation under which the organisation is registered or incorporated. It includes reviewing systems and policies, risk management, CEO appointment and evaluation, monitoring finances, meeting reporting obligations and much more. You can learn more at the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Role of the Board factsheet.
Financial governance refers to the way an organisation collects, manages, monitors and controls financial information. Financial governance includes how organisations track financial transactions, manage performance and control data, compliance, operations, and disclosures.
Board members should have an appropriate level of financial literacy to meet their legislative responsibilities, understand the NFP’s financial information needs and recognise when consultation with a financial expert is needed. You can learn more at the AICD resource Financial fundamentals for not-for-profit directors.
Effective quality governance is fundamental to consistently delivering safe, effective, connected and person-centred community services. The implementation of the Community services quality governance framework, developed by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, connects existing safeguards and approaches to quality and safety. It shifts the focus from compliance, to continuous improvement and reinforces the need to listen directly to the voices of people who use our services.
The Community services quality governance framework sets the objective of safe, effective, connected and person-centred community services for everybody, every time. It outlines the roles and responsibilities involved in delivering on that objective, and the domains and systems which promote and support its consistent delivery. The Quality Governance Healthcheck is designed for use by board members of community service organisations delivered, funded and regulated by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing including, but not limited, to:
- Child protection
- Child and family services
- Disability services
- Housing and homelessness services
- Family violence services
- Community based health services.
People and/or organisations who are members of your organisation. Members can have rights and obligations under both the law that regulates the type of organisation they are a member of (for example a Victorian incorporated association) as well as the organisation’s rules themselves. For more information visit NFP Law.
Also, people who sit on a board may be referred to as board members (see above, Director).
The written set of rules governing an organisation, setting out in writing the systems for controlling and managing the organisation. For more information visit NFP Law.
‘Speak up’ culture
‘Speak up’ culture refers to creating and maintaining a positive complaints culture in which people are not afraid to ‘speak up’ and foster a culture of zero tolerance of discrimination, abuse or other negative behaviours and practices. A ‘speak up’ culture should encourage people to raise their concerns without fear of reprisal.
When a question in these Healthcheck uses the word ‘you’ or ‘your’ or ‘we’ it’s referring to you as a board member, or your board as a whole as the governing body of the organisation. The questions are designed to be answered from a governance perspective (board member), not an operational perspective (staff).
What can the Healthcheck tool do?
The Healthchecks can help you assess the health and standards of your organisation’s governance. They are self-assessment tools which will enable you to determine those areas of your organisation where governance is strong and those areas where improvements need to be made.
The Healthchecks are each a set of statements of good practice. For each statement, you need to consider the extent to which your organisation is achieving good practice.
By the end of the Healthcheck you will be able to tell if the governance of your organisation is healthy and up-to-standard or not. A results summary report will provide information and links to relevant resources which can help you to improve governance and support you to enact your roles and responsibilities as a board.
You may also like to run the Healthcheck again after a year or two to assess and monitor your progress.
What can't the Healthcheck Tool do?
While there are some basic principles of good governance that every organisation should adopt, because of the differing sizes and complexities of community service organisations different levels of governance standards may be appropriate.
The Healthchecks only provide a general indication of the health of your organisation’s governance across general board governance, financial governance and quality governance. The Healthchecks are not an exhaustive list of all aspects of good governance nor is it an exhaustive audit.
How are results calculated?
Once you answer all questions and complete a Healthcheck, your responses will be collated into a summary report which will show an average result calculated from the answers you’ve submitted.
This summary report uses a ‘traffic light’ system to provide a quick visual overview of areas of governance where you consider your board is doing well (green) and areas where improvements could be made (orange and red). Results are combined to give you a low, medium or high risk rating. This is a useful way to get an idea of your overall risk in a particular area of governance. This summary report will also provide resources to get you started on understanding and/or addressing the risk.
We strongly recommend you read this report at a whole-of-board level.
The Healthcheck results provide only a general indication of the ‘health’ of your organisation’s governance. It is not an exhaustive list of all aspects of good governance, financial governance or quality governance – nor is it a comprehensive audit.
It’s recommended you run the Healthcheck annually to assess and monitor progress.
Do you have question that hasn’t been answered here? Please send an email or call 03 9235 1000.