A second wave of regulatory reform to the operations of the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) radically overhauls the regulator’s governance and accountability framework. It delivers, in part, many of the reforms that members of the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) have been looking for.
Key Issues —
For some time, with the support of its members, ITECA has been arguing for a review of ASQA’s governance frameworks in order to ensure that the regulator for the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector is more accountable and operates more transparently. Legislation introduced into the Australian Parliament on 13 February 2020 goes part of the way to achieving the change that ITECA members have sought.
The purpose of the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment (Governance and Other Matters) Bill 2020 (the Bill) will amend the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (Cth). The stated intent of the legislation is to strengthen the governance arrangements in relation to the work of ASQA and ensure that the regulatory framework is fit for purpose. Key aspects of the legislation include:
New Management Structure —
The amendments revise ASQA's governance structure, replacing the existing Chief Commissioner / Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and two Commissioners with a single independent statutory office holder. The National VET Regulator will be appointed by the Governor-General on a full-time basis and will be the agency head for the purposes of the Public Service Act 1999 (Cth).
Further, the National VET Regulator may also be known as the ASQA Chief Executive Officer. The intended outcome is that these amendments will enable ASQA to perform a role more consistent with that of an agency head, including leading the long and short-term strategy and making top-level managerial decisions that determine the objectives, resources and policies of the regulator.
ASQA Advisory Council —
The Bill establishes the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Advisory Council (Advisory Council). The Advisory Council will provide ASQA with access to expert advice regarding the functions of the regulator.
ITECA has long recommended changes to ASQA’s governance arrangements in order to ensure that the regulator is more connected with the sector. Importantly, reform was required to provide a tiered approach to decision making in order to ensure that delegated decision-making could be subject to internal review, and that natural justice provisions could better adhered to than in the past.
The Australian Government has consulted with ITECA on the bill prior to it being presented to the parliament. Further consultations between ITECA, the membership and the Australian Government are underway in order to ensure that the legislation delivers the change that ITECA members are looking for.
Member Engagement —
ITECA’s ability to play a lead role in matters associated with this issue rests on the advice and guidance of individuals serving on the ITECA Vocational Education Reference Committee.
Further Information —
For more information on this issue please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 1300 421 017. Stay up to date via Twitter @ITECAust or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/ITECAust.
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