What happens when things have not been resolved and you have to take your matter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal?

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) provides an independent review of a wide range of administrative decisions made by the Australian Government (and some non-government bodies). The AAT aims to provide fair, impartial, high quality and prompt review with as little formality and technicality as possible.

How do I lodge an application for review?

Your application to the AAT must be lodged:

  1. in writing (using the forms available from the AAT Registry in your capital city, or from the AAT website), and
  2. lodged within 28 days of receiving a notification of the ASQA decision that you want reviewed.

Once your application has been lodged, you will receive a letter confirming receipt of the application and telling you what happens next.

What is the AAT’s review process?

In most cases, the first step in a review is a conference. This is an informal meeting conducted by the AAT with you and an ASQA representative. You will have a chance to talk about your case and explain why you think the decision should be changed. The AAT will, where possible, try to help both parties reach an agreement on how the case should be resolved.

The AAT might hold a second conference or another type of meeting, such as a conciliation or mediation meeting. Many cases are finalised at this stage.

If agreement cannot be reached, then the AAT will hold a hearing and make a decision.

The AAT’s procedures and the amount of time needed to complete the review will vary from case to case. The AAT aims to have cases finalised within 12 months.

Timelines for steps in the process are available from the AAT website.

Some useful tips and suggestions:
  1. Read and understand ASQA’s decision on your RTO application and operations: Try to be logical and find out the reasons that have led to the action.
  2. If you are not satisfied with a decision made by ASQA, you can use this link to find a number of options.
  3. Review the publicly available decisions: ASQA links a complete list of all publicly available Tribunal and Court reasons for decisions involving ASQA, in order to assist students and potential students to make an informed decisions about choosing a provider, and provide industry, government and the public with accurate and accessible information on the merits and legality of ASQA’s regulatory decisions.
  4. Apply your case to Administrative Appeals Tribunal: You will get at-least two telephone mediation hearings to resolve your matter with the regulatory body. Apply online
  5. Time to collect information and evidence: Immediately start working on collecting the evidence and information required to support your application. It is important to note that the AATs decision is based on the RTOs level of compliance at the date of the final hearing.
  6. You will need support from experienced VET consultants. Compliance consultants can help you in a number of ways, such as – preparing and collecting your supporting information and evidence, dealing with the regulatory body, and give you the information they have from their past experiences at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. We at Compliance and Quality Assurance (CAQA) have a number of quality consultants who have represented clients in AAT matters.
  7. You may also need legal advice, so speak to a solicitor who is experienced in VET related matters.
  8. Find relevant information: You can find relevant information from the following websites: 

VET Industry News 10-May-2018

Updates from the Australian Skills Quality Authority

ASQA is increasing scrutiny on new applications for registration from 1 July 2018. Vocational education and training (VET) and the education of overseas students make a significant contribution to Australia’s economy. More than four million people undertake VET qualifications in Australia each year and the quality of the training sector has a direct impact on students, the workforce and the Australian community. To further protect the quality and reputation of the VET and international education sectors, from 1 July 2018, ASQA will apply even greater scrutiny to all applications to establish new training providers. 

Read More…

A Gold Coast man who fabricated four bogus vocational education and training (VET) qualifications for himself and used them in an attempt to gain employment has been ordered to pay a pecuniary penalty of $75,705.

Read More…

The Australian Training Awards are the peak, national awards for the vocational education and training (VET) sector, recognising individuals, businesses and registered training organisations for their contribution to skilling Australia. The Australian Training Awards have seven award categories open for direct entry, which close Thursday 31 May 2018. Visit ASQA’s website for further information Read More… 

The award ceremony will be held in Sydney on 15 November 2018. For more information about the Australian Training Awards direct entry categories visit Australian Training Awards

Updates from the Department of Education and Training (DET)

Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education

In 2017, the Australian Government commissioned an Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education (IRRRRE). The Review was part of the Australian Government’s commitment to improve the education of country students so they can reach their full potential and participate in Australia’s economy.

Emeritus Professor John Halsey from Flinders University conducted the review to examine the challenges faced by these students and find innovative solutions to help them succeed at school and beyond. Read the IRRRRE’s Terms of Reference and Discussion Paper. The Discussion Paper was supported by a Literature Review.

Professor Halsey held consultations with education authorities, peak bodies, schools and communities, and received over 300 submissions from stakeholders.

During consultations, the issue arose of access to affordable accommodation for regional, rural and remote students relocating to pursue tertiary education. Urbis Pty Ltd was commissioned by the department to research the supply and affordability of tertiary student accommodation. Read the Regional Student Accommodation Assessment by Urbis.

Professor Halsey made eleven recommendations and suggested fifty-three actions as examples of how to progress them. The recommendations cover curriculum and assessment, principals and teachers, career education, early childhood and the importance of school readiness, expanding vocational education and training and university opportunities and pathways, philanthropy and entrepreneurship, information and communication technologies, improving the support available to move away from home and the importance of education to improving the economic sustainability of regional areas. Read the IRRRRE Final Report.

The Australian Government welcomes the final report and thanks Professor Halsey and all the stakeholders who contributed to the Review.

Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) briefings 2018

Do not miss to attend ASQA briefings 2018. ASQA has recently posted the following information regarding their 2018 briefings:

Registrations are now open for a range of free face-to-face and online briefings being hosted by the Australian Skills Quality Authority during May and June.

ASQA’s Training Provider Briefings will return for a third year and be hosted at 13 metropolitan and regional locations across Australia. Two webcasts will also be held allowing those training providers who are unable to attend a briefing in-person to participate from anywhere in the world. The briefings will again discuss important compliance-related issues and provide an insight into the work being undertaken by ASQA to maintain and enhance quality in the VET sector.

For the first time ASQA will also host a briefing targeted specifically at VET sector consultants and advisors. With more training providers engaging the services of consultants and advisors in order to achieve and maintain compliance, this webcast will provide an opportunity to engage directly with the VET regulator and receive targeted advice.

Accredited course owners and developers will also have the opportunity to obtain a deeper understanding of the requirements or accredited courses and how to strength the quality and integrity of applications to accredit a course with a dedicated webcast. The webcast will also focus on establishing true industry need and support for accredited courses.

Importantly, the sessions will also include opportunities to ask questions to the ASQA staff in attendance.

Registrations for the events are essential and can be made through Eventbrite

Each webcast will be recorded and uploaded to ASQA’s YouTube channel for future reference.

Details of when and where the briefings will be held are:

Training Provider Briefings
  • Adelaide – 16 May, 7 June
  • Alice Springs – 24 May
  • Brisbane – 10 May, 29 May and 27 June
  • Canberra – 17 May, 13 June
  • Darwin – 22 May
  • Hobart – 5 June
  • Launceston – 6 June
  • Liverpool – 28 June
  • Melbourne – 8 May, 17 May, 29 May and 28 June
  • Perth – 15 May, 14 June
  • Surfers Paradise – 30 May
  • Sydney – 9 May, 31 May and 12 June
  • Townsville – 21 June
  • Webcast – 23 May, 21 June
Accredited Course Owner and Developer Briefing
  • Webcast – 29 May 
VET Sector Consultant and Advisor Briefing
  • Webcast – 12 June
Register Now


Industry Expert reveals lessons learnt from 65+ ASQA Audits

Sukh Sandhu’s Interview conducted by EduTemps

During his 20 years in the VET and Higher Education sector, Sukh Sandhu has witnessed a radical shift in compliance landscape. Here he shares his experience on how VET organisations can adapt and thrive in a challenging environment.

Few industry professionals have seen the revolution in VET compliance as closely as Sukh Sandhu. Over a 20-year career in the sector he has worked with a myriad of national and international organisations, including Navitas, MIT, Franklin Scholar, The Malka Group, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne Institute of Technology, Federation University, Gowrie Victoria, TAFE Queensland, Webcom Technologies USA and a number of other educational institutions, universities and RTO’s. He has even worked within Australian Government’s regulatory body ASQA, which served to deepen further his understanding of how RTO’s can successfully navigate the compliance minefield. With 65 regulatory audits and a 100% compliance record under his belt, it’s little wonder that his services are in hot demand. 

The compliance revolution

We began by asking Sukh to outline the key changes he has seen in the compliance environment over his career.

“The changes have certainly been profound. At the core, we have seen ASQA come in as the regulator and together with other government departments, the VET sector is now more closely scrutinised than ever before. At the same time, the sector has become a lot more competitive, with RTOs challenging TAFEs, as well as each other for market share.”

Sukh expanded on major shifts he has witnessed.

“Reforms have been transformative in terms of industry responsiveness, quality and regulations, data and customer information and scrutiny of who is a fit and proper person, to name just a few. Government funding is now more targeted and efficient too and we have seen a much greater degree of collaboration and information sharing between regulatory bodies and government departments.”

“The VET sector has experienced tremendous growth in the number of providers. There are now around 4500+ providers, and around 40% of them have less than 100 students, which is a very different scenario from days gone by. Along with this growth, there has been the collapse of some major organisations, which has been a real wakeup call for the industry.”

The good, the bad and the ugly

In his broad experience, he has certainly seen the best and the worst of the industry.

“It’s true that a few bad apples have tarnished the VET sector in some respects, but there has been a genuine desire to weed out the bad ones, and the regulator has continually updated their approach. There has been a succession of legislative changes introduced since the early 2000’s and along with this the improved collaboration between the regulatory bodies. This has helped clean up a lot of the practices which were dragging down the sector’s reputation.”

Identifying the gaps

So for those RTOs who want to thrive in this regulated environment, what does Sukh see as the main areas to be addressed?

“In my experience, the key areas are assessment and training resources and the strengthening of the capability of trainers and assessors. RTOs must pay particular attention to their trainers’ VET qualifications, their industry currency and their VET currency because this is where major non-compliance issues can emerge. Then there are issues such as short course duration, validation not being done correctly and training assessment strategies and practices not being given proper consideration.”

An active regulatory regime

Sukh observed that ASQA had taken a very proactive approach in enforcing regulations in recent years.

“ASQA has imposed a lot of sanctions on those operators who fail to maintain standards. They are determined to pursue their agenda to maintain the quality of providers in the market and that means RTOs need to be on top of their game.”

He went on to highlight the focus placed on international providers.

“ASQA is looking at the international market in their 2017-2018 regulatory strategy, and this is having an impact. International education is a huge export market worth $28.6 billion a year, and these international students can be very vulnerable.”

Sukh went on to emphasise some other areas in which RTOs must be vigilant.

“There is an overall focus on literacy, language and numeracy and ASQA is reviewing providers who deliver offshore courses. They are looking at how they market their qualifications, how they give students information at each stage of the process and how the agreements are structured. There is also scrutiny on how education agents are approved and how they are reviewed, trained and managed.”

So what advice would he give to an RTO that has a re-registration audit scheduled within the next 12 months?

“RTOs should focus on all the regulatory requirements, SRTOs clauses and standards for domestic and international students, the National code and ESOS for International students, The National standards for ELICOS providers and courses (ELICOS Standards) for organisations delivering ELICOS courses, etc. The main areas of concern will be training, and assessment resources, trainer quality, marketing practices including their website, validation of resources, industry consultation, policies and procedures for governance, administration and operations, training and assessment strategies and the pre-training and enrolment processes are the main areas that need close attention.”

A man on a mission

Sukh’s commitment to the industry stems from a deeply held belief on how vital it is in Australia’s shift toward tertiary and service industries.

“The VET sector is vital for our economy. It plays a really significant role in the job market, by giving students an edge in a competitive market, through the development of skills and clear progression routes. I think we all have a responsibility to ensure that students’ best interests are served, and I feel that the work I do really does help RTOs to provide a quality service that equips students well, at the same times as developing the organisation’s effectiveness and prosperity.”

Read More here…

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