Regulatory reform: additional Q and A
In last month’s ASQA Update, we shared some of the common questions from our recent webinar discussing improvements to our regulatory practice. For those who missed it or would like to learn more, you can view the recording on our website.
Can you give us an overview of the internal processes (training etc.) that ASQA has undertaken to adopt and implement this new approach, and to ensure that it is followed through successfully?
ASQA staff have been trained to effectively deliver on our enhanced regulatory approach. Enhanced quality assurance processes are being used with a key focus on consistent implementation. This incorporates structured peer review, quality assurance checks and moderation sessions – all of which will lead into the evaluation of our performance and contribute to continuous improvement.
It is important to remember that consistency of audit practice does not mean that all auditors must complete all tasks in exactly the same way. It is about a consistent approach within which there is sufficient flexibility to follow lines of inquiry and to take conversations in different directions in order to understand performance.
ASQA also has well established feedback mechanisms through provider surveys and complaints processes, and external audit and are accountable for our actions through the regulator performance guidelines and our performance framework.
Are the planned changes to Annual Declaration of Compliance going ahead? When will we see a new process?
We have heard from providers that the Annual Statement of Compliance can add greater value than it currently does, and this will be particularly important in achieving improved self-assurance, to enable providers to better understand how they are meeting the Standards.
In the first quarter of 2021-22 we are establishing a research partnership to ensure that ASQA’s regulatory approach supports the sector to draw on evidence and best practice approaches to self-assurance, and continuously improve performance against the Standards. We will apply this to co-design of a revised Annual Statement of Compliance and develop information and resources to support providers to assure themselves that their operations are compliant.
We will introduce a revised Statement of Compliance from 1 July 2022 and are also looking at distributing the annual submission across four quarters to better engage with the sector and enable analysis and periodic feedback to support continuous improvement.
If the audit process is now a performance assessment, will ASQA be adopting a compliant/not yet compliant mindset?
During a performance assessment ASQA is required to assess whether the Standards are met, so will not be differentiating between ‘compliant’ and ‘not yet compliant’. Put simply - either the Standards are being met, or they are not. However, we have made changes to distinguish between minor deficiencies or areas for improvement and more significant matters that constitute a non-compliance. Minor deficiencies are treated separately and not considered to be non-compliance.
ASQA’s approach to performance assessment has been enhanced to enable a deeper understanding of provider performance and the focus on a strong interaction between practice, systems and continuous improvement. ASQA is also providing reasonable opportunity for provider to return to compliance.
Where non-compliance has been identified in a performance assessment (audit), a different ASQA delegate will determine what regulatory action to take and work directly with providers to return them to compliance where appropriate, using a range of regulatory tools, including the new agreement to rectify.