ASQA Audits… is it a case of being over regulated?
Since ASQA’s inception in 2011 we have experienced a roller coaster ride of changes and challenges to the ASQA Audit model, from the personal interpretation of the legislation by ASQA Auditors, to changes in the way ASQA are regulating through Audits. From our experience, it has never been tougher going to an ASQA Audit compared with the last ten years of our experience we have had servicing the training industry at Vivacity.
Some interesting statistics sourced from www.training.gov.au on 6 May 2019:
- 1155 RTO registrations have been cancelled (including ASQA cancelling the providers registration and the provider cancelling their own registration) and
- 163 registrations withdrawn since ASQA took over regulation in July 2011
- There are currently 3,837 RTOs in Australia, down from over 4,400 RTO’s in October last year.
These statistics do not include RTO’s registered under WA TAC or Vic VRQA.
On 1 May 2018, ASQA announced increased scrutiny on new applications for organisations that wish to deliver VET and/or international education. ASQA’s aim for the additional scrutiny was to ensure that only providers who can demonstrate they are resourced, ready and willing to deliver high-quality training and assessment are registered. Since this announcement, ASQA has received an unusually high number of applications, which has led to delays in ASQA finalising applications. Vivacity has experienced through our clients, that ASQA are taking over a year to process initial applications, which has had an impact on the time frames for additions to scope and re-registrations too.
For the first time ever, Vivacity has had a number of clients who have gone to Tribunal, over what would have been considered minor non-compliance’s in the past and would have been rectified by submitting further evidence to ASQA in previous years.
Recently we had a case whereby a client ended up going to Tribunal over a simple matter that could easily have been resolved if the Auditor had simply picked up the phone or sent an email, instead they undertook the audit with the documentation submitted and deemed the application non-compliant with no opportunity to provide further evidence, except by paying for a Reconsideration application as ASQA have removed the Rectification stage for initial registrations. We submitted a Reconsideration application, which did not go to a site audit, and the client was deemed non-compliant again, which was stated within ASQA’s own report that the non-compliances were minor. Due to the minor non-compliances and the fact that we were not given the opportunity for a site audit, we decided to go to Tribunal. As I stated earlier, this whole case could have been sorted by a simple phone call or an email, which is exactly what the ASQA Solicitor had identified during the mediation session. Following more than a year since submitting their application, we are finally going to a site audit, which is a great outcome except for the fact that our clients, Vivacity and ASQA have wasted more than 12 months in time and expenses that did not need to be incurred when it could have been sorted by a simple phone call.
Last September ASQA released their Annual Report for 2017-2018 (sourced https://www.asqa.gov.au/news-publications/publications/annual-reports2 on 6 May 2019), which addresses ASQA’s purpose and their KPIs against each Purpose. In the report it includes the KPI to “refuse entry or reject renewal applications from existing providers that do not meet the requirements for registration”, even though ASQA have not shared with the RTO community what these stricter requirements are and how we are to address them.
ASQA’s purpose, more prominent this year than last year, is to close RTO’s down in an effort to “clean” the market up and remove the dodgy operators. Unfortunately, from what we are experiencing, is that in ASQA’s effort to clean the market of dodgy operators, the good operators with limited knowledge or understanding of how to meet the compliance requirements are getting swept up with the dodgy operators.
The Annual Report reveals an alarming increase of cancellations in 2017-18, with the percentage of cancellations higher than in any financial year since 2013–14, we suspect that this percentage will have a dramatic increase in the next report for 2018-19.
As you can see from the following table, the percentage of providers who were deemed non-compliant in previous years at the time of being audited has increased extensively over the last five years:
We have heard through our connections that there are a number of RTO’s that intend to take a stand against ASQA through a class action, it will be interesting to see the results of that action and how many RTO’s actually get involved.
We believe that as a collective body, we should unite and be heard, especially considering the legislation is under review and there will be more changes. If you would interested in attending a forum with other RTO and CRICOS Providers to discuss this further, please register your interest by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your name, title, RTO Name and your phone number. If we get enough interest, we will be holding a forum in Sydney and will be in contact.
If you have an ASQA Audit in the next 12 months, we highly recommend that you conduct an internal audit to identify your current compliance risks, so that you don’t become another ASQA statistic. The best way to prepare for an ASQA Audit is to conduct an internal audit and even more so that you get a compliance expert from outside your organisation to conduct the audit, who is not part of your culture and can review your RTO from an unbiased point of view with experience in the current ASQA audit processes.
Vivacity has a special on this week for a one-day SystemsScan or a two-day SystemsCheck, whereby we come into your organisation and conduct a site audit. Call 1300 729 455 for more information.