Managing natural disaster and pandemics
Guidance for providers
Emergency events, natural disasters and business disruptions can impact a Registered Training Provider’s business continuity and ability to provide VET training and assessment.
Providers that are prepared for an emergency are more likely to have effective continuity arrangements for their students while ensuring that business operations continue to run as smoothly as possible.
We advise providers to have an up-to-date emergency response plan in place so that they are prepared, and best positioned as possible to respond to the crises and to minimise impact on students and their communities.
Disasters affect staff and student communities in a range of ways and can cause major disruptions to people’s lives, both physically and emotionally. Given this, the provision of information and support is an important component of a provider’s response at these difficult times. A range of support is available through Commonwealth, state and territory governments.
The Australian Government National Recovery and Resilience Agency supports communities on their disaster recovery journey in the aftermath of events such as floods, bushfires, cyclones, drought, and other hardships like the COVID-19 pandemic. Find disaster recovery services and support at: https://recovery.gov.au/get-support
ASQA’s risk based proportionate approach to regulation
We understand the challenges that natural disasters and pandemics can pose for providers, their staff and students.
Our risk-based proportionate regulation enables us to determine the most appropriate way of interacting with providers, providing information and support, monitoring risks, and maintaining essential safeguards.
We apply our risk based regulatory approach to:
- actively engage with stakeholders and the regulated community and across government to understand the impact of unexpected events such as natural disasters and pandemics on VET delivery and students
- assist providers to make a notification of change in circumstances, where applicable via the material change or event form
- raise awareness and provide guidance for providers to self-assure and address risks
- adjust our regulatory approach to ensure that our regulatory interactions are proportionate and responsive, minimising regulatory burden whilst focusing on key risks to the integrity of qualifications and achievement of quality outcomes.
This risk-based, proportionate approach helps us to understand the impact on individual providers, tailor our advice and support and to monitor the impact and recovery across the sector more broadly.
Flood related guidance
Access our detailed guidance materials below for providers impacted by the recent weather events in Queensland and New South Wales.
The guidance provides information on how ASQA is providing a proportionate regulatory approach for providers impacted by the recent weather events in QLD and NSW.
- extension of the due date for the annual declaration on compliance from 31 March 2022 to 29 April 2022 for all providers in Queensland and NSW
- advice on how to use the material change notification to advise ASQA of a material change in circumstance such as temporary period of inactivity
- possible extensions for providers affected by flooding such as for an application or performance assessment underway
Flood affected providers are encouraged to contact us to discuss their situation further.
Understanding and minimising risks to VET
This guidance has been published to assist providers to plan for and respond to natural disaster and pandemics.
This advice doesn’t replace directions from Commonwealth, state or territory authorities but may assist you in delivering training and assessment safely for your staff and students.
Notification of material change or event
If this event has affected or changed the operation of your organisation, notify us through the material change notification in asqanet. Read more.
Consider adjusting your delivery and assessment
To keep your staff and students safe during unexpected events, such as a natural disaster or pandemic, you may need to adjust your delivery and assessment practices, such as:
- adopting distance delivery methods
- conducting remote assessment
- offering simulated workplace training or workplace assessment.
We have developed advice and guidance on common areas to help maintain the quality of training and assessment when making changes.
Adjustments to delivery and assessment still need to meet all conditions and requirements of the training product. This may mean there isn’t a suitable adjustment for some courses.
Workplace assessment and work placement
If students or staff can’t attend an external workplace it may be necessary to defer training and assessment until access to the workplace becomes available, to meet mandatory training or assessment conditions.
In some cases, simulated workplaces may be an option – we have published guidance on using workplace simulation.
Our advice on Rising to the challenges of delivering in a changed world also offers guidance on workplace training and assessment.
If your staff are working from home, you need to ensure adequate resources are available to continue to meet your regulatory obligations. This means your student management systems need to allow staff to record and monitor student progression, provide student support, and issue students their student records without delay.
We encourage all providers to consider the significant stress an unexpected event can cause students, both financially and in terms of mental health.
You continue to have an obligation to consider the concerns of your students, and to work with them to resolve issues.
Maintaining regular contact with students is key to managing concerns, particularly when students are not engaged in face-to-face delivery. You should consider offering student contact outside ‘normal work hours’ by telephone and email.