Senate Estimates: Economics Committee
Estimates hearings 17 October 2012
- Senator RHIANNON
- Mr Robinson
Full transcript available here
Senator RHIANNON: Mr Robinson, I understand that earlier the minister mentioned that ASQA has put two private providers on notice to lose registration. Could you run us through the process of how this came about? To start with: what was the benchmark; were warnings issued?
Mr Robinson : I can. In fact, we have done many more than two providers—
Senator RHIANNON: How many?
Mr Robinson : since we have been in operation. We have rejected the renewal of registration applications of 34 providers since we commenced on 1 July last year and we have cancelled or suspended the registration of another 35. We have taken action to either suspend or cancel registration or refuse registration for 69 providers.
Senator RHIANNON: So the difference between cancelling when their registration is current and the 34 is, when they come up for renewal, you will knock them out at that point.
Mr Robinson : They come up for renewal and they apply for reregistration—they have to do that every five years. These providers that are coming up for renewal have been registered previously by a state or territory regulator and then we assess the risk. We look at the factors and see if there are complaints, so it is a process which looks at their audit history, available information, that has been handed to us from previous regulators and our risk assessments and then we decide whether or not to do a fuller audit of that provider. In the cases where there is serious noncompliance with the required standards, we take action to, as I say, and not renew or cancel their registration.
Senator RHIANNON: So for those who were cancelled, what triggered them coming under your consideration? Is it a complaint from the public? Are you being proactive and looking at them when they are still registered?
Mr Robinson : Yes. We get complaints from people about registered training providers. That will trigger us to assess the risk and look at whether we need to do an audit to address the issues that have been raised. From time to time, providers come under our notice when they are not coming up for registration renewal and we can take action at any time during the cycle to look at their situation.
Senator RHIANNON: How does it come to your notice—complaints from the public; other ways?
Mr Robinson : We do analysis of them We might look at their audit history and see that there is a poor audit history there.
Senator RHIANNON: How often do the audits happen?
Mr Robinson : They can happen at any stage. In our first year of operation we earmarked for audit 1,300 providers of the 2,600 that we regulated for most of the year—so, about half. That was quite a wide set of action in our first year to get to that many, but we are looking at providers that we have concerns about—there might have been complaints raised—or there are some issues that we just want to follow up with them.
Senator RHIANNON: Do you work with them to resolve the problems or is your job just to judge what they are doing?
Mr Robinson : There is a process where, if it is a re-registration application and they have an audit—not everyone necessarily has an audit for re-registration but most do—if we find noncompliances that report is given to them and they have a period of time, usually around a month, to address the noncompliances and then we consider their rectification evidence. Then, in the more serious cases, we take action to refuse their application.
Senator RHIANNON: With the audits, is it random which providers you determine that you will audit? How is that decision made?
Mr Robinson : No, we look at the history of that provider, whether there have been issues in the past, and we assess their risk. So we earmark certain providers for audit. When we do a new application, like an initial registration of a new registered training organisation, we do an audit of every application. There is a follow-up audit 12 months later for those as well. In the case of existing organisations, it is based on an assessment of their risk.
Senator RHIANNON: Is the audit a desk audit or are you out in the field looking at these programs?
Mr Robinson : Most of our audits involve field inspections. All of the new ones do and most of the re-registration ones do. Monitoring audits generally all do. Occasionally, we assess information without doing site inspections but that is the exception rather than the rule.
Senator RHIANNON: Are they spot visits or does the company know you are coming?
Mr Robinson : We can do unannounced audits and we do if we have reason to. A good example of that is where we have had reason to believe that there are violations of the education visas and people are not attending when they are required to be, so we do unannounced audits to check the student numbers against those that have been reported.