9.54Providers, as the first point of contact and the ones responsible for risk assessments, will be the gatekeepers into the alternative process. Under the alternative process victims and perpetrators will also be relying on the process and the providers, rather than the court.
9.55The public and those participating in the alternative process need to be assured that providers and facilitators are specialists, skilled at what they do, robust in their practice and processes, operating to a high standard, and capable of safely delivering the alternative programmes.
9.58In our view, in order to ensure at the outset that such standards are met and that providers are competent and staff are skilled specialists, there is a case for requiring that all providers (and programmes) are assessed on a one-on-one basis for competency against rigorous standards. In our view this is preferable to relying only on providers’ contractual obligations to comply with standards, although that too will assist in ensuring on an ongoing basis that standards are met. If providers meet the standards then they will be accredited.
9.59Accreditation of providers is also necessary as it would be theoretically possible for providers to set up and offer programmes through the alternative process without Ministry of Justice funding. Such providers would not be bound by any contractual terms to abide by the Ministry of Justice standards.
9.60We therefore recommend that the accreditation framework should also incorporate standards and competencies relating to providers against which they are assessed and accredited. The standards and competencies could draw on those already set out in the Ministry of Justice standards.
9.61In our view, after accreditation, providers should be regularly monitored and their accreditation renewed on a regular basis (such as twice a year).
9.63Our understanding is that the Ministry of Justice has, as a result of recent tendering processes, contracted with an external organisation to conduct the training and accreditation process for facilitators. This means there will be a transfer of responsibility for accreditation of facilitators from the Ministry of Justice to an independent party.
9.65In our view, this is an improvement on the current situation, where, although the general accreditation standards have been well developed by the Ministry of Justice, facilitators’ expertise in relation to sexual violence is only assessed on paper, rather than in a one-on-one assessment of a facilitator’s skills, competency, and any qualifications.
9.67If the change to accreditation processes does not eventuate as anticipated by the Ministry of Justice, then we recommend that the accreditation framework we are recommending, discussed above, should also incorporate standards and competencies relating to facilitators against which they are assessed and accredited.
9.68After accreditation, facilitators should be regularly monitored and their accreditation renewed on a regular basis (such as twice a year).
9.69In our view, significant harm could result to victims and possibly to the public if providers who are not accredited are responsible for entry of cases into the alternative process (through the assessment process) and offer programmes that are not accredited. We consider that no one should be permitted to deliver alternative process programmes unless they are an accredited provider, using accredited facilitators (if relevant to the programme model) and delivering accredited programmes. To support this we recommend that it should be a breach of the legislation to do so.