The CEO Declaration of Compliance

Have you ever stopped to wonder why, when you return to Australia, border officials ask you “Do you have anything to declare?” There are a few reasons for this.

Australia imposes taxes on goods entering the country, and in order to protect those tariffs, we restrict the things that can be imported duty-free. Australia, like many other countries, also has biosecurity rules in place, and the country is not especially keen on someone accidentally introducing the guinea worm to the country.

In a similar manner, the CEO declaration of compliance confirms that the organisation complies with regulatory standards and guidelines, as well as the steps it is taking to demonstrate that it remains compliant at all times during the course of its operations.

An annual declaration of compliance

The annual declaration on compliance is a statement by your organisation confirming that it is compliant with all requirements of the Standards.

Providing an annual declaration:

  • confirms that you have systematically monitored your RTO’s compliance with the Standards, and
  • informs ASQA of whether any issues identified have been corrected.

All Australian Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) are required to file an annual declaration of compliance with the RTO Standards applicable to their organisation by the 31st March of each year.

It is a requirement that one must complete and sign if they are the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). This form confirms that they are the following:

  • Taking full responsibility for ensuring that the organisation adheres to the National Vocational Qualifications Framework (VQF)
  • All other applicable criteria of registration, as well as ensuring that your organisation cooperates with ASQA in all audits and monitoring efforts.

The annual declaration provides a chance for providers to conduct a self-assessment and to ensure that all information held by ASQA regarding their activities is accurate.

The yearly declaration, according to ASQA, aids in the identification of emergent systemic issues in the VET sector.

We at CAQA recognise that the CEO has a plethora of obligations; thus, let us relieve you of the burden and confusion by identifying important areas of compliance and scrutinising the RTO’s procedures in order to determine whether or not there are any noncompliances.

Topics of discussion include, but are not be limited to, the following:

  • Findings of internal audit/s
  • Strategies, practices and methods for training and assessment
  • Validation activities
  • Industry engagement
  • Pre-enrolment and admission processes
  • Quality training and assessment system
  • Third-party services
  • Language, literacy and numeracy requirements
  • Training and assessment materials
  • Transition planning
  • Controlling the flow of information
  • Improvement on a continuous basis
  • Complaints and appeals processes
  • Issuance of qualifications and statements
  • Trainers and assessors
  • AVETMISS compliant database
  • Regulatory reporting and quality indicators

So what is it?

It is a basic web form survey which is distributed by an email marketing and communications business called Vision6. It requires no sign-in or authentication. It relies only on information that is already publicly available to identify the RTO about which the declaration is being made.

Click here for ASQA’s Self-assessment tool if you need help getting started.

How do I submit an annual declaration of compliance? (Clause 8.4)

In February of each year, ASQA invites the Chief Executive Officers of RTOs, by email, to complete the Annual Declaration on Compliance. This must be completed by 31 March that year.

While others may contribute, the final declaration must be completed by the person who is legally responsible for the registration of the RTO (the Chief Executive Officer).

If your RTO has not received the email from ASQA, you should take the following steps:

  • Check your spam/junk mail folder.
  • Check that the email address for your CEO contact is correctly listed on training.gov.au. If the address is incorrect, you should update the contact details in asqanet, and then contact the ASQA Info Line to request that ASQA re-send the email.
  • If your RTO has previously unsubscribed from ASQA emails, you should contact web.feedback@asqa.gov.au and ASQA will reactivate the subscription to ASQA emails.
  • If none of the above apply, you should contact InfoLine by emailing enquiries@asqa.gov.au and advise that your RTO has not received the email.

What happens if non-compliances are discovered and documented?

All non-compliance must be documented and a rectification plan must be put in place to ensure your organisation is compliant with all regulatory requirements and guidelines.

Our RTO consultants can assist you in crafting a proper response as you are filling out your CEO declaration of compliance.

Failure to submit the declaration with full and accurate data can result in ASQA taking regulatory action.

Please use the following link for further information and support: FAQs about the annual declaration process.

For more information, please refer to Annual declaration on compliance for 2022 – submit by 31 March 2022 | Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)

Interview with Maciek Fibrich, Quality and Compliance Auditor

Maciek Fibrich is the Director of RTO Coaching and Consultancy Pty Ltd which provides amongst other services, coaching, mentoring and consultancy services as well as professional development and operational support to training organisations across Australia. Maciek has been working in the Vocational Training sector for 21 years and as a consultant for over 15 years focusing on the development of training within the Australian Vocational Education and Training industry.

Over the years, Maciek has mentored many business owners, company directors and CEO’s on developing internal systems to streamline their practices. Maciek has also employed over 25 staff, whilst managing a company with 8 business activities.

Maciek holds a Bachelor of Applied Science and various vocational qualifications including the Diploma of Quality Auditing, Diploma of Training and Assessment as well as a Certificate IV in Business Management; and Training and Assessment. Maciek holds his Lead Auditor Certification and has professional membership with the Australian Institute of Training and Development, the Institute of Learning Practitioners and the Institute of Learning and Development.

On a personal level, Maciek has been actively involved with the Polish community, participating in and leading a range of youth groups including the Polish Scouting Association of Australia, a number of Polish Folk dance groups and youth leadership programs, the sport of Volleyball, as a player, coach and national and International referee, officiating during both the 2000 Sydney Olympics and Paralympics.


Here is a copy of Maciek Fibrich’s interview conducted by Sukh Sandhu.

It is always a pleasure to speak with you as one of the most highly regarded and quality-conscious consultants in the RTO sector. So the questions prepared by The VET Sector experts for you are:

Q1: When it comes to quality consultants, what are the top five qualities that RTO clients should look for?

Everyone defines quality differently and what I regard as a quality consultant may be very different to someone else’s perspective. Five qualities I believe help make a quality consultant include honesty, integrity, the ability to interpret other people’s information, always looking for a better way and of course a solid understanding of the systems we are working with.

At the end of the day, you need to feel comfortable with the consultant you are working with. You need to be comfortable learning from them, comfortable asking all the perceived ‘silly’ questions as well as the tough questions and trusting them to do the right thing. But, remember that you also need to do your part of the process and not rely on the consultant to do everything for you as it’s not them answering the questions at audit.

Q2: You have been a fairly objective observer of regulatory activity in Australia, so how would you describe the regulatory climate in Australia right now? ‘

I believe we are in a good space with regards to ASQA. Is it perfect? Far from it! Is it costly, yes! Excessively? Possibly. Money aside, (said no one ever), I think the changes that have come this year have definitely helped mend many bridges, however, there is still a long way to go.

I believe we have taken some amazing steps, and the management team at ASQA should be congratulated for being proactive and hopefully things keep progressing. I have already observed and participated in some regulatory processes that have truly brought a smile to my face and hope these instances continue.

That said, providers must not get complacent! The current COVID relief packages will end soon, and the restrictions on movement will ease, and while it’s been easy to fly under the radar, this does not mean we have been exempt from being compliant and properly managing our businesses. If, like our personal COVID kilos, we’ve let ourselves go in the compliance and business area, it’s now time to start a solid routine and get the business pumping again. You don’t want the shock of an ASQA audit to be as bad as the first time you jumped on the scales in 12 months!

Q3: When it comes to RTOs, what are the top five characteristics that distinguish a good one from a bad one?

Like the first question, the perception people have about a good RTO will be dependent on their needs. Some people want a hassle-free ‘quick’ qualification, and others want the full service, 12 month-guided experience.

So that said, I believe a good RTO is one that listens to its customers, supports the industry it’s ‘feeding’, understands that business and compliance have to go hand in hand, and implements that critical systematic approach to its operations to ensure it can achieve, what I promote, profitability, scalability and sustainability. A good RTO will generally have an internal culture of education

A good RTO will ensure the outcomes of its students meet the needs of both students and the vocational area the student is studying. From a business perspective, a good RTO is one that understands the business that it’s in, understands what problems it’s solving and can implement the principles of transparency, autonomy and accountability within its processes.

A ‘bad’ RTO? I guess that would be the opposite of a good RTO, but I also want to differentiate a bad vs dishonest RTO. Any dishonest RTO would be a bad RTO. One that cheats the system for gain, ‘sells’ its qualifications, exploits students and funding etc. A bad RTO would be one that also doesn’t care about its students, doesn’t understand the business that it’s in and generally has a disregard for compliance and the needs of the industry. Bad RTO’s often have a cultural issue that comes from the top, or in ‘cells’ within the business. It’s not hard to turn bad RTOs into good RTOs, but it does take commitment from the top.

Q4: What kind of services do you provide to RTO clients through your consulting company?

The main service I now provide is education. One thing the 20+ years of consulting has taught me is that if we don’t educate our clients, we fail them. We also need the clients that want to be educated but that’s a whole other issue. Over the years, I have provided basically every type of service needed within an RTO, but now I like to focus on the coaching and mentoring side of my business. This gives me the greatest amount of satisfaction and joy as I see better results over the medium to long term.

While I still do the small bits of consultancy, they are not my focus area as I find that there is a level of dependency that is developed when you do everything for the client. If I teach my clients, and their teams, to understand the issue and help them implement the fix, this empowers the team and avoids statements like, ‘Oh he’ll do it’.

About two years ago, I launched my CMC program, which incorporates Coaching, Mentoring and Consultancy into a weekly solution for any CEO or manager who wants to understand their business at a much more intimate level. The program explores challenges and issues within the business and we work on solving those issues. We then educate the team on the issues and solutions, and once we have the foundations set, we can then build the solution. I find this a much more effective approach to simply ‘doing it for the client’.

Q5: You and your colleagues Tamara and David host a fantastic monthly meeting session that is completely free of charge. What inspired you to start this and how has your experience been so far?

Thank you for the kind words! Tamara is the brainchild behind the monthly sessions and she approached us to see if we wanted to be involved. For me, sharing knowledge and teaching others, and making the world and our industry as a whole, better, is what drives me, and I think that can be said for most people within our industry. If I could do it daily, for free, I honestly would. Thankfully, my business is doing just that, and I am fortunate enough to be paid to educate others so I truly feel like I don’t work. I love what I do and that passion drives me!

The experience so far has been great and the feedback has also been great. It’s a real honour and privilege to be able to share my learnings from the past 20+ years of working within the industry to help overs and hopefully, improve their businesses and the lives of their students and staff.

Q6: What are the most effective survival tactics for organisations working in the current environment?

  1. Know your business. If you are flying by the seat of your pants, and have survived, you’re lucky but business is not about luck. Know your numbers and review them. At the end of the day, for most, an RTO is a business and is designed to make money. Even those that are not out to make money, still need to know their numbers to ensure whatever funding source is feeding them doesn’t dry up one day.
    Questions you should be asking; What is your cost per lead? Cost of acquisition? Profit per student? Percentage spent on marketing? etc etc.
  2. Know the climate and environment. How does the regulatory approach align with your current business practices? Do you have a systematic mindset? Does your team have a whole of business attitude where compliance isn’t one person’s job? Is there a shared understanding of the clients and industries needs so that everyone within the organisation can effectively input into the growth and sustainability of the business? The more you understand your business, the documents and processes that exist within your business, the better prepared you will be for any challenges that arise.
  3. Focus on what you are doing, not what the others are doing. I’m not saying don’t look at your competitors, but it’s too easy to get caught up with the concept of following the herd. Until you understand where the herd is going, you are following blindly. Too often we see within this industry, a race to the bottom in terms of pricing and course duration and newcomers follow because they want a piece of the action, only to find they are not making money. Make sure you have a plan, focus on your plan and amend as required. Make sure your team is on board.
  4. Keep the passion, park the ego and emotion. Passion is key to the success of any business and job. Without passion, little things become problems, resentment sets in and issues fester a lot quicker. Passion is what drives up and when we lose that passion, we either need to take a break and find it again or pivot and change the way we do things. I have pivoted my business countless times as I grew. From focusing on straight admin management in the early days, to countless startups and now my coaching programs. As I got bored, and wanted more, I reinvented myself to ensure the passion kept burning.

How to complete a compliant Trainer Matrix – Part 2 of Part 5

To refresh yourself, please find Part 1 here

The majority trainers are unaware of the value of having an accurate and up-to-date trainer matrix available as a road map to the training planned, designed, and offered to learners and ultimately also for the audit and verification purposes. Part of a training organisation’s responsibility is to assist trainers to keep these up to date. You may fall behind if you do not remain on top of compliance criteria, and you may not know it until your trainers and assessors are unable to prepare or assess the students they have been assigned.

We have discussed a number of most critical aspects of a compliant Trainer Matrix in our last article. They were:

  • What is a Trainer Matrix?
  • What are the variety of uses of using a Trainer Matrix?
  • What are the ASQA guidelines related to trainer and assessor matrix?
  • Why should you retain sufficient evidence related to trainers and assessors?

In this part, we will discuss:

  • The definition of a trainer matrix according to regulatory guidelines
  • ASQA Guidelines on trainer matrixes.
  • What must be included in a trainer’s matrix.
  • Who must complete the skills matrix in your RTO?
  • The trainer file and checklist

The definition of a trainer matrix according to regulatory guidelines

The trainer matrix feature allows trainers and RTO administration to track and manage evidence that will support the requirements of vocational competencies, current industry skills, VET knowledge and skills and professional development (clauses 1.13 – 1.16 under Standards for RTOs 2015).

The trainer matrix, therefore, provides evidence of the qualifications and industry currency of trainers involved in program delivery, mapped to each unit they deliver and assess. A trainer’s matrix should be developed when a trainer is initially assigned to deliver and assess a unit/s. Existing trainers assigned should update their matrixes at least annually to record additional industry experience, trainer qualifications changes/upgrades and relevant professional development.

ASQA Guidelines on trainer matrixes:

There is no prescribed way of recording evidence of verification of trainer and assessor qualifications; this is an operational decision for each RTO. For example, RTO’s may choose to record the verification within their RTO’s trainer and assessor matrix. (FAQs)

What must be included in a trainer’s matrix.

From the explanation above, it is evident that a skills matrix must include sufficient and unambiguous information:

    1. The document should be appropriately labelled and version controlled.
    2. The RTO’s name, code and contact details should be included
    3. Trainer name and contact details
    4. Department name and contact details, if applicable
    5. Information if it is for “initial registration or appointment as a trainer/assessor” or “annual update”.
    6. Information and details about the qualifications or unit/s of competency the trainer/assessor is training and/or assessing at the RTO.
    7. The Trainer/Assessor must include their work experience and qualifications that enable them to train and assess each unit of competency delivered. This information should be verified by bona fide qualification documentation, a resume, references and information which may be checked to confirm authenticity.
        • Vocational competencies at least to the level being delivered and assessed;
        • Current industry skills directly relevant to the training and assessment being provided; and
        • Current knowledge and skills in vocational training and learning that informs their training and assessment
    8. You must record your vocational education and training (VET) work experience. Details and description of the duties, the name of the employer or organisation, the position held, and date/s and time worked.
    9. You must record your vocational education and training qualification and equivalence. Name of the course achieved, the institution from where it is obtained, and the dates received. This section can also be used for writing down other certificates and licenses obtained.
    10. You must record your training and assessment (TAE or equivalent) credentials and qualifications (according to clause 1.14 and clause 1.15). Please also include the following information:Training and Assessment Credentials Required – Trainers
      On or prior to 30 June 2019 (no equivalence)

      • TAE40110 or TAE40116* or
      • TAE40110 + one of the following Units of Competency: TAELLN401A/TAELLN411 and
      • one of the following Units of Competency: TAEASS502A/TAEASS502B/TAEASS502 or a diploma or higher-level qualification in adult education OR
      • Diploma related to adult education OR
      • Higher qualification in adult education

      From 1 July 2019 (no equivalence)

      • TAE40116* or TAE40110 + one of the following Units of Competency: TAELLN401A/TAELLN411 and
      • one of the following Units of Competency: TAEASS502A/TAEASS502B/TAEASS502 or a diploma or higher-level qualification in adult education OR
      • Diploma related to adult education OR
      • Higher qualification in adult education

      Training and Assessment Credentials Required – Assessors

      On or prior to 30 June 2019 (no equivalence)

      • Assessor Skill Set (TAESS00001 or TAESS00011 Assessor Skill Set) or
      • TAE40110 or TAE40116* or
      • TAE40110 + one of the following Units of Competency: TAELLN401A/TAELLN411 and
      • one of the following Units of Competency: TAEASS502A/TAEASS502B/TAEASS502 or a diploma or higher-level qualification in adult education OR
      • Diploma related to adult education OR
      • Higher qualification in adult education

      From 1 July 2019 (no equivalence)

      • Assessor Skill Set (TAESS00001 or TAESS00011 Assessor Skill Set) or
      • TAESS00001 plus one of the following Units of Competency: TAEASS502A/TAEASS502B/TAEASS502 or
      • TAE40116* or TAE40110 + one of the following Units of Competency: TAELLN401A/TAELLN411 and
      • one of the following Units of Competency: TAEASS502A/TAEASS502B/TAEASS502 or a diploma or higher level qualification in adult education OR
      • Diploma related to adult education OR
      • Higher qualification in adult education

      You must, therefore, have a Training and Assessment Qualifications section on your skills matrix and options to select the checkboxes or let the Trainer/Assessor write the training and assessment qualification/s they have acquired.

    11. Provide details of how you meet the vocational competence requirements of each unit you are delivering or assessing. This may be through holding the same unit of competency, holding an older version of the same unit and verifying there are no gaps, holding an older version of the same unit and providing details of how gaps have been addressed, other formal qualifications, professional development activities, evidence from work in the industry, etc.
      Please ensure all areas of the unit of competency are addressed through the evidence provided. Provide examples and explain each criterion to ensure you have addressed all areas of the unit of competency. If the units are not equivalent (e.g. a Statement of Attainment for the specific unit/course has not been submitted), a mapping document must be provided to demonstrate how the units have been mapped to ensure vocational competency. In some cases, such mapping document may be provided by the RTO.
    12. You must have a section to comply with the professional development requirements mentioned under Vet Quality Framework (VQF) Reference: SRTO 1.16
      Professional development means activities that develop and/or maintain an individual’s skills, knowledge, expertise and other characteristics as a trainer or assessor. This includes both formal and informal activities that encompass vocational competencies, the currency of industry skills and knowledge and practice of vocational training, learning and assessment, including competency-based training and assessment. Examples of professional development activities include:

      • participation in courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, or formal learning programs;
      • participation in mentoring, professional associations or other learning networks;
      • personal development through individual research or reading of publications or other relevant information;
      • participation in moderation or validation activities; and
      • participation in industry release schemes.

      Identify any areas requiring professional development to address in the upcoming year. Where possible, identify where professional development may be undertaken. Once professional development has occurred, remove from this section and put the details in the appropriate sections of the skills matrix.

      “The future professional development needs” must include the following professional development sessions:

      • Knowledge about the units of competency
      • Vocational training and learning knowledge
      • Industry currency
      • Assessment and/or learner resource validation
      • Competency-based training and assessment
      • E-learning/ technology and industry changes and their effect on VET training and assessment
    13. You must include the evidence of current knowledge and skills in vocational education and training to inform training and assessment practices (Vet Quality Framework Reference: SRTO 1.13c) The section may include the following fields: Activity, Organisation/person provided by, Dates Undertake, Time involved, Type of Activity, Knowledge or skills gained
    14. You must include a declaration and verification section to confirm that the information provided on the Trainer Matrix and any related documentation is true and accurate. You give permission to your employer to verify the accuracy of any information provided.In short, a valid trainer matrix includes the following information:
      • Training Product/s delivered and/or assessed;
      • Mapping to the compliance and regulatory standards (Trainers and assessors’ clause 1.13 to 1.16 and Individuals working under the supervision of a trainer clause 1.17 to 1.20.);
      • Ongoing study towards completion of formal qualifications
      • PD and Industry currency in the last 12 months;
      • Employment history;
      • Positions held, employer, dates of employment;
      • Relevant industry experience/training;
      • Current appointments, memberships of professional/industry associations;
      • Professional development planned; and
      • Have a declaration and verification checklist

      It is also recommended that all resumes/CVs are verified for currency and authenticity through the undertaking of reference checks.

Who must complete the skills matrix in your RTO?

It is the responsibility of the trainer/assessor to confirm that the information presented in the skills matrix is complete, authentic and valid. Your organisation can follow a joint-effort to complete the skills matrix, where the administration or compliance department can develop the template, complete all training package criteria, and then you as a trainer and assessor review all information, fill in the gaps and ensure every statement is true, complete and valid.

The trainer file and checklist

An RTO must hold valid files for all Trainers and Assessors (this includes files for contractors and employees). A valid file includes the following information:

  • Compliance checklist
    • Trainer file checklist
  • Employment contract
    • A signed and dated copy of employment contract and offer letter
    • A signed copy of position description
  • CV/ Resume
    • A current copy of the trainer/assessor’s CV (usually updated on an annual basis)
  • Qualifications/ licenses/ checks
    • Evidence of vocational competencies
    • Evidence of industry currency
    • Evidence of VET currency
    • Training and assessment qualification
    • Vocational licenses/ tickets/ cards (as required)
    • National police clearance check
    • Working with children check
  • Performance management
    • Staff key performance indicators and appraisal (at least an annual basis)
    • Trainer observation forms (observation by RTO staff)
    • Trainer feedback forms (from students)
  • Induction
    • Staff induction checklist
    • Staff induction session
    • Staff handbook
  • Direct supervision
    • Direct supervision plan and documentation (as required)
  • HR/ Payroll/ Leave forms
    • Personal details form with bank details
    • Tax file declaration
    • Superannuation details
    • Business name confirmation (for contractors)
    • ABN and GST (for contractors)  
  • Insurances
    • Copy of professional indemnity insurance

In our next editions, we will discuss:

  • What should be included in the trainer matrix template (With explanation)
  • How to complete a trainer matrix template
  • Review and manage trainer matrix tool

References:

https://www.asqa.gov.au/resources/fact-sheets/meeting-trainer-and-assessor-requirements