Our belief is that a regulatory system should be based on the following principles:
Transparency: All audit reports should be made public on ASQA’s website. This will help establish a transparent vocational education and training system.
Consistency: ASQA should only make decisions within the regulatory framework. There also needs to be a definition of what constitutes a minor non-compliance and what is major. There is a need to adopt a strategic risk management approach and clearly define risks as low, medium and critical.
Low and medium breaches like minor technical issues within resources, website, trainer documents, industry feedback or operations. These issues should be rectifiable and must not interrupt the operations of the training organisation or the outcomes for the students.
Major breaches can be constituted as major non-compliance and organisations should be suspended and/or cancelled where there is evidence of financial mismanagement, fraud, or criminal activities.
Fairness: As a first instance administrative breaches should be rectified by employing a series of non-litigious channels.. For example, use an internal appeals mechanism as a step before an AAT application. Engaging an independent party with knowledge of the sector in question; including compulsory co-conferencing.
Professionalism: The VET regulator must work with the VET Sector not against the VET sector. A single point of contact for all communication enables the RTO to be able to work closely with the regulator to rectify any issues. All minor non-compliances needs to be handled quickly and efficiently ensuring that the RTO is able to continue delivering quality training.
Adaptability: We need to understand that times have changed and there are many different ways learners access information and learning. There needs to be adaptability and acceptance on the regulators’ behalf to online or distance delivery modes as valid modes of study.
Equality: TAFE and RTO’s need be treated equally and have the same principles applied to them. There must be consistency in decisions.
Independence: The system should be based on quality principles only. There cannot be ever changing decisions influenced by the personal or professional interests of the regulatory officers or politics of the day.
Quality: The focus should be on quality, not just compliance. ASQA and other regulatory bodies must focus on all aspects of the VET system and not only compliance.
Conflicts of interest: ASQA officers, auditors and other regulatory officers cannot be allowed to also operate in the VET sector in positions where there could be a conflict of interest. Officers working with a government regulatory body cannot run their own VET business, whether as a consultant or as part of an RTO or sit on an RTO board.
Responsibility: ASQA has a responsibility as a government department. They must develop Regulatory Guidelines that allow RTO’s to understand the processes of an audit without any grey areas in either the directions or audit processes and outcomes.
Review rights: All RTOs irrespective of when their applications are lodged, must have rectification and reconsideration rights at their own costs.
Accountability: If a regulatory body and their representatives are not held accountable they will continue to damage Australia and the VET sector. Auditing practices should be reviewed against industry standards.