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VCOSS is committed to developing and strengthening collaborative relationships and partnerships between the community sector and the Victorian Government in order to improve outcomes for Victorians.

The Human Services and Health Partnership Agreement between the then Department of Human Services and the health, housing and community services sector was signed in October 2002. Since 2002 there have been four three-year agreements between the Department of Human Services (and the Department of Health) and the health, housing and community sector, with the most recent being a Memorandum of Understanding for 2016 to 2019.


The Human Services and Health Partnership Implementation Committee (HSHPIC) was established in 2004 to guide and implement the commitments of the Partnership Agreement. The purpose of the committee is to promote consultation and engagement between the Department and funded community sector organisations. HSHPIC is cochaired by DHHS and VCOSS. The work of HSHPIC focuses on:
  • strengthening DHHS and community sector partnering to achieve effective and respectful relationships
  • auspicing projects that improve business processes to reduce the regulatory burden on the community sector
  • addressing strategic challenges facing the human services industry through partnering dialogues and shared action.
Download the Terms of Reference.
In June 2010, the Secretary of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (now the Department of Education and Training) and the CEO of VCOSS signed the first Partnership Agreement for the 2010-14 period. The Partnership Agreement was renewed for the 2014-2018 period. It recognises the community sector as an important partner to the Department in the development of policy, the delivery of services and the improvement of outcomes for all Victorians, particularly those who are vulnerable or experiencing disadvantage. It commits the Department and the community sector to increased collaboration, consultation and engagement.

Governance Group

The Partnership Agreement is overseen by the DET – Victorian Community Sector Governance Group, which is co-chaired by DET Deputy Secretary and the VCOSS CEO. The Governance Group promotes consultation and engagement between the Department and the community sector and seeks to improve the learning, development, health and wellbeing outcomes for all Victorians, particularly those who are vulnerable or experiencing disadvantage.

Partnering in Progress

The Partnering in Progress Project was undertaken as part of the HSPIC workplan in 2008 to evaluate current partnerships across the health, housing and community sector. A series of workshops were held across Victoria with a total of 164 participants who represented 81 different partnerships. Participants strongly reinforced the need for partnerships between community sector organisations and government programs across Victoria to support improved integrated service delivery and enhanced outcomes for people using services. In addition, participants identified that their individual organisations also obtained significant benefits from participating in partnerships. The Partnering in Progress - Learnings from partnerships between community service organisations and the Victorian Department of Human Services report provided an overview of the value of partnerships in Victoria.

Partnership Practice Guides

The Partnering in Progress report has led to the development of four Partnership Practice Guides. These guides provide information, tools and resources that examine the three stages of partnering: preparing to partner; commencing the partnership; and, sustaining the partnership. It is anticipated that these resources will further strengthen and support partnerships across Victoria; and provide an overview of governance, partnership models and leadership. Please feel free to download these guides and distribute them within your organisation and/or partnership. Guide 1: Preparing to partner Guide 2: Commencing the partnership Guide 3: Sustaining the partnership Guide 4: Partnership governance, models and leadership