Department of Human Services

Public Record Office Victoria
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Following significant machinery of government changes after the re-election of the Kennett Government in April 1996, the Department of Human Services (DHS) was established by amendment to Schedule 1 of the Public Sector Management Act 1992.

Under Administrative Arrangements Order No.150, effective 3 April 1996 (published in the Victorian Government Gazette No. S 33, 3 April 1996), the Department of Human Services assumed all functions of the Department of Health and Community Services (VA 3092), the Office of Housing from the Department of Planning and Development (VA 3094) and Youth Affairs from the Department of Business and Employment (VA 3096).

Structure and functions:

At its creation, DHS reported to the following ministers: Health; Aged Care; Housing; Aboriginal Affairs; Youth and Community Services.

The Department comprised four corporate divisions: Corporate Services; Change Management; Corporate Strategy; Portfolio Services. DHS also had seven functional divisions: Aboriginal Affairs; Office of Housing; Disability Services; Acute Health; Aged, Community and Mental Health Division; Public Health; Youth and Family Services.

DHS was divided into nine geographic regions which were responsible for service provision and administration in that region. There were four metropolitan regions: Northern Metropolitan; Southern Metropolitan; Eastern Metropolitan; Western Metropolitan. There were also five rural regions: Barwon South West; Gippsland; Grampians; Hume; Loddon Mallee.

In January 1995 the predecessor Department of Health and Community Services published the report Victoria's Health to 2050. This report identified the need for major change in provision of acute care services and in February 1995 a Metropolitan Hospitals Planning Board was established to advise the government and develop a plan for the metropolitan hospitals services. One of their major recommendations was the formation of seven Health Care Networks based on the 35 independent public hospitals in Melbourne. This system commenced in August 1995 and continued under the Department of Human Services.

In 1996 the DHS had seven Health Care Networks: North Eastern; Western; Southern; Peninsula; Women's and Children's; Inner; Eastern. On the 19 December 1995, Dental Health Services Victoria was created as a Health Care Network. On the 1 July 1996 the Inner and the Eastern Health Care Networks were amalgamated. On the 3 November 1997 the North Eastern the Western Health Care Networks were amalgamated, and the Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre became a Health Care Network. The eight Health Care Networks resulting from these changes were: Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre; Dental Health Services Victoria; Inner and Eastern; North Western; Peninsula; Southern; Women's and Children's.

In 1997/1998 the DHS corporate divisions were restructured; Corporate Services and Change Management were incorporated into the new division of Corporate Resources. The two other divisions, Corporate Strategy and Portfolio Services remained the same.

In June 1999 DHS had the same three corporate divisions but changes in the functional divisions. The functional divisions comprised: Acute Health; Aged, Community and Mental Health; Public Health and Development; Disability Services; Youth and Family Services; Office of Housing; Aboriginal Affairs.

In 1999 a ministerial reshuffle resulted in the portfolios of Youth and Community Services being separated, with DHS reporting to the new Minister for Community Services. The Department of Education, Employment and Training reported to the new Minister for Youth Affairs. The ministerial changes were reported in Special Gazette No. S 155 20 October 1999. After the reshuffle DHS reported to the following ministers: Health; Housing; Aged Care; Community Services.

In November 1999 a Ministerial Review on Health Care Networks was established to advise the Minister of Health on new governance and management structures for metropolitan hospitals. The Review Panel's report presented in May 2000, recommended that the North Western Health Care Network, the Inner and Eastern Health Care Network had become too large. One of the Panel's recommendations was to extend the number of Health Care Networks from eight to twelve. This recommendation was not implemented by the Victorian Government.

In 2000, the responsibility for the Archaeological and Aboriginal Relics Preservation Act 1972 and the portfolio of Aboriginal Affairs, moved from the DHS to the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (VA 3972). This change was published as part of Administrative Arrangements Order No. 165 in the Victorian Government Gazette No. G 24, 15 June 2000.

As of 30 June 2000, the new DHS had three corporate divisions: Policy Development and Planning; Portfolio Services; Resources. The six functional divisions were: Acute Health; Aged, Community and Mental Health; Community Care; Disability Services; Office of Housing; Public Health. Over the following year the corporate division of Policy Development and Planning was renamed Policy and Strategic Projects.

Under the Administrative Arrangement Order No. 174 dated 20 December 2001, a new Minister for Senior Victorians replaced the portfolio of Aged Care. The DHS reported to the new minister.

In the 2002/2003 the DHS underwent major organisational changes. The corporate divisions were combined under the new Financial and Corporate Services Division. The other divisions became: Policy and Strategic Projects Division; Metropolitan Health and Aged Care Services; Rural and Regional Health and Aged Care Services; Operations; Housing and Community Building (Office of Housing); Community Care; Disability Services.

The role of Advocate for Children in Care was appointed in March 2004. This function was an independent mechanism of review to assess the quality of services delivered by DHS and community service organisations, to children and young people in the out of home care system. The role reported directly to the departmental Secretary of DHS and was a separate unit to the other divisions (no Administrative Order). Following a major review of child protection laws both the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 and the Safety Act 2005 provided new legislative framework and established a statutory body, the Child Safety Commissioner. In June 2005 the Advocate for Children in Care reported to the Office of the Child Safety Commissioner (DHS Annual Report 2004-2005).

On the 21 December 2004 a new portfolio was created and the Department of Human Services reported to the Minister for Children; the new Minister of the Crown was reported in Special Gazette S3 6 January 2005. The Department of Human Services then reported to the following ministers: Housing; Health; Aged Care; Children; Community Services.

On the 7 March 2005 the Office for Children replaced the Community Care Division. This Office included early years' services, juvenile justice and youth services, child protection and family services. (DHS Annual Report 2004-2005). The Office for Children worked to improve outcomes for all Victorian children from 0 to 18 years, through research, policy development and outcomes monitoring, coordinating the effort of all Victorian Departments and collaborating with local and national Governments. (Victorian Government Directory 2005 / 2006).

The DHS divisional structure at the end of the 2004 - 2005 financial year comprised eight divisions: Housing and Community Building; Office for Children; Disability Services; Financial and Corporate Services; Policy and Strategic Projects; Metropolitan Health and Aged Care Services; Rural and Regional Health and Aged Care Services; Operations. The Advocate for Children in Care was a separate entity which reported to the Child Safety Commissioner. The Commissioner reported directly to the Minister for Children and the Minister for Community Services. During that year DHS combined the two Northern and Western Health Care Networks to become the North West Metropolitan Region.

In the 2005 - 2006 financial year DHS set up a separate unit to the eight major divisions, the ICT Strategy and Governance which reported directly to the Secretary of the Department. The Policy and Strategic Projects Division changed name to the Portfolio Services and Strategic Projects and took on the function of cross-portfolio strategic priorities and policy direction.

Following the re-election of the Bracks' Government, a Minister for Mental Health and drugs was appointed on the 1 December 2006 and reported in Special Gazette S315. On 5 March 2007 a Mental Health and Drugs Division commenced operation within DHS and comprised both the Mental Health Branch and the Drugs Policy and Services Branch. These changes were published as part of Administrative Arrangements Order No. 192 in the Victorian Government Gazette No. S 317, 5 December 2006.

Following the 2006 election, DHS reported to the Minister for Health, Minister for Community Services, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Children, Minister for Aged Care and the Minister for Housing. In the ministerial reshuffle after the appointment of John Brumby as Premier of Victoria in 2007, DHS reported to the new Minister of Senior Victorians. The new Minister of Senior Victorians and her colleagues in the Brumby Ministry were reported in the Victorian Government Gazette S184 on 3 August 2007.

In 2006 - 2007 DHS had nine major divisions: Disability Services; Financial and Corporate Services; Housing and Community Building; Mental Health and Drugs; Metropolitan Health and Aged Care Services; the Office of Children; Operations; Portfolio Services and Strategic Projects; Rural and Regional Health and Aged Care Services. The ICT Strategy and Governance continued as a separate unit.

Under Administrative Arrangements Order No. 196, Victorian Government Gazette S189 14 August 2007, the new Department of Education and Early Childhood Development incorporated part of the Office for Children. DHS kept the responsibilities for child protection and youth justice. The Office of Children within DHS was renamed the Children, Youth and Families Division.

On 12 August 2009 as a consequence of machinery of government changes, the DHS portfolios were divided to create two new departments: the Department of Human Services; also the Department of Health. The establishment of the new Department of Health was published on 12 August 2009 in the Special Gazette 277, Administrative Arrangements Order No. 202. The Department of Health incorporated the functions of health, mental health and drugs and aged care. The new DHS then comprised the following functions: disability; housing; children, youth and families.

The new DHS reported to the following ministers: Community Services; Senior Victorians; Housing; Health. Consequent to these cabinet changes DHS underwent a major administrative restructure. The nine divisions were restructured into seven which comprised: Children, Youth and Families; Disability Services; Housing and Community Building; Industry, Workforce and Strategy; Executive Services; Corporate Services; Service Delivery and Performance. The Executive Services Division supported three statutory bodies: the Child Safety Commissioner; the Disability Services Commissioner; and the Suitability Panel.

On 20 January 2010 there was a cabinet reshuffle after a minister's resignation. After the reshuffle, the portfolio of Senior Victorians was transferred to the Department of Planning and Community Development.

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