The Difference Between Compliance And Quality Assurance in the RTO space

When you plan to run a registered training organisation (RTO), you may find it difficult to know:

  • the complete regulatory framework and environment 
  • your legal obligations and
  • everything else required to run a successful, compliant Registered Training Organisation.

Take compliance and quality assurance, for example, you may have heard about them, but do you know what they mean?

What is compliance?

Numerous legislation, regulations and guidelines in Australia regulate the way we run an RTO such as:

  • Australian Consumer Law (ACL),
  • the Racial Discrimination Act 1975,
  • the Sex Discrimination Act 1984,
  • the Disability Discrimination Act 1992,
  • the Age Discrimination Act 2004,
  • the Child Protection Act 1999,
  • the Work Health and Safety Act 2011,
  • the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986,
  • the Privacy Act 1988 and
  • the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011. 

This is not an exhaustive list. These legislation, regulations and guidelines specify the framework and the obligations to operate an RTO.

A number of these obligations are applicable on all business entities that operates within Australia and are overseen by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

The law does not allow you to be an officeholder or manage a company (without court consent) if:

  • you are currently bankrupt
  • you are still subject to a personal insolvency agreement or composition under the Bankruptcy Act 1966, or
  • have been convicted of offences like fraud or breaching your duties as an officeholder.

If you are member of ACPET or other industry bodies, they may also have codes of conduct and specific guidelines that you must follow to continue to be a member. These requirements and obligations come under “compliance”. Failing to meet all state and federal guidelines for compliance can result in serious consequences for your registered training organisation (RTO). Along with altering your company’s legal status, which may leave you vulnerable to lawsuits, government agencies may conduct audits, enact fines or even dissolve your business entirely. 

What is quality assurance?

Standard 2 of the SRTOs 2015 (Standards for Registered Training Organisations, 2015) states that the operations of the RTO must be quality assured. Quality assurance refers to “meeting and delivering intended performance according to certain benchmarking standards”.

Let’s look at Standard 2:  Clause 2.1 – 2.4

2.1 The RTO ensures it complies with these Standards at all times, including where services are being delivered on its behalf. This applies to all operations of and RTO within its scope of registration. 

2.2 The RTO:

  • Systematically monitors the RTO’s training and assessment strategies and practices to ensure ongoing compliance with Standard 1; and
  • Systematically evaluates and uses outcomes of the evaluation to continually improve the RTO’s training and assessment strategies and practices. Evaluation information includes but is not limited to quality/performance indicator data collected under Clause 7.5, validation outcomes, client, trainer and assessor feedback and complaints and appeals.

2.3 The RTO ensures that where services are provided on its behalf by a third party the provision of those services is the subject of a written agreement. 

2.4 The RTO has sufficient strategies and resources to systematically monitor any services delivered on its behalf, and uses these to ensure that the services delivered comply with these Standards at all times

While Standard 2 of SRTOs 2015 addresses the key client criteria of quality training and assessment strategies and practices there are many other quality considerations that make up a quality-assured RTO business.
Every RTO must have a system (often referred to as a ‘business or quality management system’) to manage its operations. The system should provide the basis for quality assuring a business.

Quality assurance is maintained by ensuring that:

  • The organisation understands the relationship and differences between Quality Management systems, Quality standards and Regulatory standards.
  • Understand how a properly implemented business (quality) management system can help improve fundamental business performance well beyond just meeting compliance/regulatory requirements
  • Use quality assurance techniques to help review their existing system and processes
  • Revitalise their existing quality management system
  • Organisation participate in professional networking with colleagues across RTOs and wider industry.

To be continued…

ASQA News 12-Jul-2018

Definition of Enterprise RTOs updated

ASQA has recently updated their guide for the Application of Initial Registration with changes taking effect as of the 1st of July, 2018.  You can find this and download for your own reference here:

Once of the changes noted, has been to the definition of an Enterprise RTO.  ASQA now deem an Enterprise RTO to be:
“An enterprise or the training function or department of an enterprise that is registered to provide nationally recognised training. Training is delivered only to its employees. 

This includes, for example: 

Enterprise—government (for example, Department of Defence) 
Enterprise—non-government (for example, Woolworths, Qantas)”

Issuance of false qualifications leads to $31,400 penalty
A Queensland man who misled three individuals into providing payment for false qualifications has been ordered to pay a pecuniary penalty of $31,400.

On 5 July 2018, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) successfully obtained a declaration from the Federal Court that Scott Andrew Jones created false qualifications concerning “Engineering—Fabrication Trade”, in the names of three different people, and provided those documents for a fee.
The court found that Mr Jones falsely represented to these individuals that each qualification was a legitimate vocational education and training (VET) qualification issued by a registered training organisation (RTO).
ASQA Chief Commissioner Mark Paterson said ASQA began investigating Mr Jones following a complaint.
“The investigation identified that Mr Jones had offered to assist work colleagues by enrolling them with TAFE Queensland to seek recognition of prior learning for engineering qualifications. Mr Jones took money from these individuals and then copied a legitimate qualification in order to issue documentation, which he purported to be from TAFE Queensland, to his colleagues. 

As a result of its investigation, ASQA commenced a civil prosecution against Mr Jones.

Read more

My Role as Your Trainer (Infographic)

Trainers don’t just train. They listen, they learn, they plan, they adapt, they help, they soothe, they challenge and they tolerate.

Students expect all this, and often more besides. But, for a Trainer to be effective at training, they must be very clear about what is most important.

Fortress Learning gave it some thought and came up with the following list – it is not everything, but it captures what they believe the most important things are. And it doesn’t matter if it is the Cert IV TAE or Diploma of Business or something entirely different, if we get this right, then we have the best chance of success.

Adapted and shared with the permission from Fortress Learning. Reference:

Reporting obligations for Registered Training Organisations

Under the Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015, all RTOs are obliged to provide accurate and complete data. 

All ASQA-registered training organisations RTO must meet mandatory annual data submission requirements, including:

  • Submitting the annual declaration on compliance to ASQA
  • Submitting total VET activity (TVA) data, including the reporting of unique student identifier (USI) data.

There is a limited number of exemptions for some short courses and eligible RTOs, however, if you are delivering training under a funding agreement you are required to report all of your contracted delivery to the relevant Department. 

Organisations are, therefore, responsible for a number of reporting requirements under the Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015. The reporting requirements include:

The annual declaration on compliance

The Standards require each RTO to provide ASQA with an annual declaration on their RTO’s compliance.
The annual declaration must be signed by the principal executive officer/chief executive officer registered with ASQA as listed on  

If you are the RTO CEO or PEO, ASQA will notify you by email of your obligation to complete the declaration and provide you with a link to the online form. You can check your details on to ensure that ASQA has access to your current email address to ensure you receive this invitation.

When you submit the declaration, you are confirming to ASQA that you:

  • Systematically monitor your RTO’s compliance
  • Implement preventive and corrective actions where considered necessary.

The declaration also asks you to confirm that records pertaining to your RTO, as reflected on, are accurate and up to date.


Reporting requirement: Total VET Activity (AVETMISS and USI) 

The Australian Vocational Education Training Management Information Statistical Standard (AVETMISS) for VET Providers is a national data standard that ensures the consistent and accurate capture of VET information about students, their courses, units of activity, and qualifications completed. It provides the mechanism for national reporting of VET activity. 

Provides information through NCVER to Industry stakeholders about: 

  • Statistical information captured for national reporting 
  • Unique Student Identifier and all award issuance activity conducted in the previous year

Reporting requirement: Quality Indicators 

These include learner and employer survey data to collect evidence-based and outcome-focussed continuous quality improvement, and assist the VET Regulator to assess the risk of an RTO’s operations:

Other information you must submit:

You must collect AVETMISS-compliant records for all students, and for all competency enrolments and outcomes achieved, throughout the calendar year.

Early in the following year, you must report this data to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) unless you have previously done so through existing contractual arrangements.

RTOs should refer to NCVER’s publications AVETMISS 7.0 VET Provider Collection Specifications and AVETMISS data element definitions which describe the AVETMISS data to be collected.

There are a number of student management systems that can record and produce AVETMISS data files for reporting. A register of data entry tools and student management systems is available on the NCVER website.

NCVER has developed a free AVETMISS data entry tool for RTOs with less than 100 students and an AVETMISS validation software for RTOs to validate their data before submission. Both tools are available on the NCVER website.

For further information, and a range of fact sheets, about Total VET Activity data, please see the:

Visit ASQA website for more information