ASQA given additional powers to seek civil penalties and issue infringement notices
On 12 July 2018, the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC made the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment (Enforcement and Other Measures) Regulations 2018 (NVR Regulation Amendment 2018).
The NVR Regulation Amendment 2018 allows ASQA to seek civil penalties for breaches of the Standards for Registered Training Organisations (the Standards), even in cases where a provider has since rectified that breach.
This legislative change enhances ASQA’s capacity to effectively support the quality of the VET sector by providing an additional mechanism to protect students from poor-quality providers.
How does ASQA enforce compliance and issue civil penalties?
ASQA imposes a range of administrative sanctions (such as cancellation of registration) where providers fail to meet the Standards.
Where ASQA imposes administrative sanctions for non-compliance, providers have the opportunity to take action to rectify the issues that led to the sanction. If a provider fully rectifies all non-compliance within the permitted timeframe, ASQA cannot proceed with the sanction, even if the non-compliance has been significant.
Prior to this amendment, ASQA could only seek the imposition of civil penalties by a court for a limited range of breaches of the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011. As such, ASQA’s work in seeking civil penalties has so far largely related to the issuance of false qualifications.
How will this change affect ASQA-registered providers?
Registered training organisations are required to comply with the requirements of the Standards at all times.
The NVR Regulation Amendment 2018 allows ASQA to seek civil penalties for breaches of the Standards, even in cases where a provider has since rectified that breach.
ASQA applies enforcement provisions proportionate to the level of non-compliance. Civil penalties are considered a strong enforcement action. ASQA is likely to seek civil penalties in serious cases. For example, ASQA may seek civil penalties where non-compliance is relatively significant or habitual, as well as in cases where the non-compliance has significantly affected students.
High-performing training providers that strive to offer genuine, high-quality training and assessment in compliance with the Standards are unlikely to be affected by this legislative change.
Additional grounds for ASQA to issue an infringement notice
The NVR Regulation Amendment 2018 also expanded the range of matters where ASQA may issue an infringement notice to include where an RTO does not comply with its Data Provision Requirements.
The above changes have effect from 18 July 2018.