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Parliamentary Criticism of ASQA’s Heavy Handed Tactics in VET Regulation

Andrew Laming - VET Parliamentary Speech

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MP Andrew Laming Criticises ASQA Over RTO Regulation

It was certainly not a good day for the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) after it got a stern rebuke from House Representative Andrew Laming for its handling of its regulatory compliance functions over RTOs. The MP criticised the national regulator for Australia’s Vocational Educational and Training (VET) sector for several inconsistencies in the agency’s handling of its regulatory functions.

“This is not the conduct of a regulator who is building confidence in our sector,” Andrew Laming MP. 

Mr. Laming made his remarks after a nationwide investigation on the performance of ASQA whose findings also echoed the sentiments of RTOs in dealing with ASQA. In one of these cases, the representative told how an indigenous community organisation was ordered to pay AUS 22,000 for the privilege of being shut down, for a single visit audit. This after the training provider won an award for the high quality of training a few months earlier.

The representative also showed how RTOs are being accused of failing to meet regulatory standards even for minor technical issues which borders on the ridiculous. Matters such as non-compliance with marketing materials because they indicated that they were centrally located and near transport, but ASQA later taking issue because it found out that it was not near a train station. Another issue was with the colour of an RTO’s logo not being similar on a website and its letterhead which ASQA says can lead to confusion. He also cited cases where RTOs being suspended not only after an order to visit the premise, but suspensions based only on desktop and paperwork check.

The MP said that ASQA wins less than half of their cases forwarded to the AAT, giving the impression that these are sent for the purpose of legal expense and personal damage. The damage he says should be proportionate. The result is RTOs being suspended for months, unable to take in students effectively killing them in the process. He says that much is to be desired from ASQA in helping RTOs comply with these regulations, quoting ASQA as saying that they are a “regulator and not a consultant”. Many in the VET community believe that the regulator should be a body that supports and assists RTOs to achieve compliance and not one to seek out and destroy.

There are many great RTOs that have left the VET industry and many more considering getting out as the perceive the risk of a rogue regulator to great. Maybe this

Can you contest an ASQA decision?

The answer is YES. Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) dissatisfied with an ASQA decision may seek a review of that decision with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). This is to ensure that ASQA is made accountable for its decisions and actions.

Who is the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)?

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) conducts independent merits review of administrative decisions made under Commonwealth laws.  They review decisions made by Australian Government ministers, departments and agencies and, in limited circumstances, decisions made by state government and non-government bodies.


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