Understanding the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment Bill 2019

In 2017, the Hon Karen Andrews MP, the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, commissioned a review of the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (NVETR Act) and its associated legislative framework. The review was part of the Australian Government’s commitment to ensure the quality of the national vocational education and training (VET) sector into the future. Professor Valerie Braithwaite from Australian National University conducted the review to determine the legislative capacity of the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to efficiently and effectively regulate the sector, evaluate if ASQA’s functions and powers are consistent with best regulatory practice and assess the ability of the system to meet industry and student needs. Professor Braithwaite was also asked to investigate reforms that could improve outcomes for students. The review report is available here. Another expert review of Australia’s vocational education and training sector was conducted by  the Honourable Steven Joyce. The review report is available here. The National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment Bill 2019, suggested by the minister and VET stakeholders, is the result of the recommendations of Professor Valerie Braithwaite and Steven Joyce. We did our research and have identified that this bill is highly influenced by the Australian Skills Quality Authority’s submission to the Review of the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011. The copy of the ASQA’s submission is available via the following link here: This bill was introduced and read for the first time in the senate on 4th Dec 2019. The second reading debate occurred on the 5th February 2020. No proposed amendments have been suggested and/or made in the Amendment bill in the first or second debate. The bill is now almost ready to be introduced to the second house and the final text of the bill will be passed with or without any amendments by both the House of Representatives and the Senate which is presented to the Governor-General for assent. It is important to understand this bill as it will be bringing a number of substantial changes to ASQA’s regulation of the vocational education and training sector. It remains unclear how the proposed amendments will help the Australian Government and training and education sector to have a more transparent and balanced regulator that builds quality and capacity in the VET sector. The suggested amendments are in relation to: Training organisation’s registration requirements, It appears under the amendment act the entry into the training market will be stringent. The total number of RTOs are already reasonably stable in recent years but these new changes will significantly reduce the number of organisations applying to become a registered training organisation (RTO). The proposed reform numbers one and two of ASQA’s submission are considered in full to make this change. The organisations will be required to demonstrate a genuine purpose of a commitment to providing high-quality VET and capability to do so to be a training organisation. The training organisation will also be responsible to demonstrate the establishment of a sustainable business model, with a focus on ensuring adequate resources are readily available for the proposed scope of registration. Conditions and decision timings relating to National VET Regulator (NVR) registered training organisations (NVR RTOs); The amendment bill includes information about the period for which the condition will be imposed and how organisations should be notified. Notification requirements for NVR RTOs in relation to changes to the operation of an NVR RTO or events likely to significantly affect an NVR RTO’s ability to comply with the VET Quality Framework; The stringent notification requirements are suggested to be made mandatory. The legislation enforces a policy of continuous disclosure on an RTO, notifying ASQA when there are likely to be significant changes to an RTO or when an event occurs that is likely to significantly affect an organisation’s ability to be compliant. Reviewable decisions made by the delegate of the NVR; Section 203 includes information about the reviewable decisions made by the delegate of the NVR. Compliance standards and conditions for accredited courses; There are a number of compliance standards and conditions suggested for accredited courses. Such as section 47: A person in respect of whom a VET accredited course is accredited must: comply with the conditions set out in sections 47A, 47B and 47C; and comply with any conditions imposed on the accreditation of the VET accredited course under subsection 48(1). Preparation and publication of audit reports by the NVR; ASQA will be required to publish audit reports to its own website. The format and timings of publication of these reports are not clear yet. The amendment bill states the following after section 17A: 17A Requirements for audits conducted in relation to applications for registration 1. The National VET Regulator must prepare a report of an audit conducted under subsection 17(3) in relation to an application for registration. 2. The report must: (a)  be in a form (if any) approved by the Minister; and (b)  comply with the requirements (if any) prescribed by the audit report rules for the purposes of this paragraph. 3. The report must not include personal information , unless the personal information is the name of: (a)  the applicant; or (b)  an N VR registered training organisation. 4. The National VET Regulator must comply with the requirements (if any) prescribed by the audit report rules relating to the publication of the report. Electronic sharing and publication of information authorised by the NVR; The proposed changes suggest that no personal information should be made available through publication of the audit reports or electronic sharing. This change is to meet the requirements of the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) and the Australian Privacy Principles (or APPs). For more information, please refer here. The other changes include the following: information that the NVR is required to enter on the National Register; the NVR’s powers to request documents in electronic form, use of enforceable undertakings and to allow for regulatory decisions to be stayed while under reconsideration; cancellation of VET qualifications and statements of attainment; the minister’s powers to issue directions to, and determine certain fees charged by, the NVR; certain offence provisions relating to the delivery of a VET course; processes for the appointment of acting Commissioners, the Deputy Chief Commissioner and the Chief Commissioner of the NVR; and the NVR’s annual operational and corporate plans; and to make a number of technical amendments; and National Vocational Education and Training Regulator (Transitional Provisions) Act 2011 to provide for transitional arrangements. For more information regarding the changes and how they will affect you, contact us at info@caqa.com.au.

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