The National Accreditation Scheme (NAS) is an industry based certification process for Community Legal Centres (CLCs) that supports and recognises good practice in the delivery of community legal services.
The NAS provides a quality assurance process that gives CLCs, funding bodies and clients confidence that CLCs are operating according to good practice and industry standards. The NAS promotes a culture of continuous quality improvement.
The NAS was launched in 2010 as a joint initiative between NACLC and
State/Territory CLC Associations, with the first CLCs being accredited in 2013. The first ‘phase’ of the NAS has been completed with every CLC registered with the NAS having gone through the accreditation process.
A CLC that has been assessed and accredited is entitled and encouraged to prominently display the NACLC Certification Trade Mark (shown here) in their Centre. An accredited Centre has a non-exclusive Licence to use the NACLC Certification Trade Mark on all their publications and relevant materials.
Full Members must comply with the NAS
NACLC (and the State Associations) membership Rules requires Full Members to be accredited under the NAS. Any new full Member of the Association will be referred for assessment for Certification and Accreditation.
Review of the NAS 2014-2015
Towards the end of 2014, NACLC engaged Hecate Consulting to undertake a review of the NAS. The Report of the Review of the National Accreditation Scheme (the NAS Review Report) was released in November 2014. It found that the CLC sector and several government funding bodies were broadly supportive of the NAS, but made recommendations to improve the NAS., particularly in relation to accessibility, governance, national consistency, and streamlining or simplifying the process as well as the assessment tools. The improved NAS Standards has been applied in the Phase 2 of the NAS which commenced in 2016.
The NAS Standards
The NAS Standards are availble to Members on the Members Only section of the NACLC website.
The NAS Guidelines
The NAS Guidelines are the rules that govern the operation of the NAS. The Guidelines are availabe to members on the Members Only section of the NACLC website.
Need assistance or further information
Meg Houston, NAS Coordinator, NACLC
Phone: 02 9264 9595
Trish Ryans-Taylor and Sharryn Jackson
Accreditation Project Coordinator (WA)
Phone: 08 9221 9322
Assistance with all SPP account and user queries is available from:
BNG Customer Relations Manager
Phone 02 9569 1704
The accreditation process
The accreditation process involves the following steps:
NACLC uses an online self-assessment system the Standards and Performance Pathways (SPP) which has been tailored for CLCs. The SPP guides CLCs through assessing their own organisation against the National Accreditation Standards.
The SPP can also be used for reporting against the CLSP Service Standards, or easily adapted for reporting against other standards and/or to other funding bodies.
A successful annual cross-check audit of a CLCs legal practice (required under the NACLC Risk Management Guide) is incorporated into the assessment.
2. Site visit by accreditation reviewer:
NACLC have employed specialist accreditation reviewers who work with each CLC to review the results of their self-assessment and subsequently visit the CLC to consider other relevant documentation, to see how policies and procedures are applied on site and to meet with CLC representatives.
3. Report and recommendation:
Accreditation review staff will provide a report and recommendation for accreditation to the Certifier (NACLC) to decide on certification. The report includes the requirement for the development of an Improvement Plan which is a work plan designed to improve a CLC compliance with the NAS Standards.
If successful, the CLC is issued with Certification and a Licence to use the NACLC Certification Trade Mark for 3 years.
The CLC is required to provide six monthly reports against their Improvement Plan during the certification period.
Continuous Quality Improvement
Phase 2 of the NAS has shifted the emphasis from compliance with the NAS Standards to continuous quality improvement as a management approach.
The NAS encourages CLCs to:
Reflect on centre practices to identify opportunities for improvement;
Address specific issues as they arise and consider ways to reduce the likelihood (and/or severity) of recurrence;
Streamline/strengthen systems to enhance outcomes for clients and the community;
Establish effective management systems that are routinely reviewed and revised as required;
Recognise and acknowledge their strengths and achievements;
Support exploration of new approaches, share experience and examples of good practice with other CLCs; and,
Build sector credibility, support funding efforts and encourage collaboration.
Other standards and service types
In addition to the NAS Standards, the SPP includes quality management requirements of a number of other Government funding areas that apply to the community sector and other common quality standards. This means that as a CLC addresses the NAS Standards, the assessment tool automatically also addresses these other standards, reducing the time and effort required for monitoring and reporting on standards compliance for a CLCs funded under multiple programs.