Has the Australian Skills Quality Authority taken Australia back 30 years?

December 2, 2019

The effects of the VET regulator’s actions on our industry and Australia’s reputation with regards to innovative learning has been detrimental to what is internationally seen as best practice.  The attitude towards learning methods that are applied outside traditional face-to face classroom based training have put our education system at risk.  We are not reaching out to the learners that desperately need training and education but rather asking them to fit the traditional classroom mold. 




It was the early 1970s when computer technology was introduced. The early 1980s we had .edu/.gov/.com and a variety of other domain names.  In the early 1990s the world wide web was introduced to the public. The early 2000s saw  e-commerce, m-commerce, online learning and education set to flourish across the globe. 

After almost 30 years of the internet being available to the general public and becoming one of the most important commodities, we are writing this article to discuss the advantages of providing online education and digital literacy and asking where Australia is standing today in terms of global trends.   

Information technology and digital literacy 


Since the arrival of information technology and digital literacy, the relationship between learners and educators has been transformed. Learners today have access to a variety of sources of information through the internet, television and other mediums rather than just relying on books and what is taught in the classroom. Consequently, the training and education approach for curious minds has changed and has gradually become more collaborative and interactive, by digital means, all over the world. We have however found, through official submissions and audit reports, that Australia’s Vocational Education and Training Sector Regulator - Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) considers online education as “high risk” and have audited and closed down a number of vocational education and training providers because they were providing online education. 


Digital education is a revolutionary means of transmitting knowledge and now plays an important role for learners. This country is experiencing a number of challenges such as outdated teaching methods, a lack of qualified and competent industry trainers and staff that want to work in the vocational education and training sector, a highly disproportionate student-trainer ratio and a lack of quality education and learning material.


We strongly believe that online education should be promoted rather than demoted by the regulatory body. Online learning can supply educators and trainers with training resources and engage learners in many ways by using multimedia training tools, interactive e-classrooms, utilising digital tools such as smartboards, Led screens, videos, etc. It also allows one trainer to provide information digitally across several locations via immersive digital media to tackle the country's qualified trainer shortage.


Transparency and skillset needed from a regulator as a model litigant 


The industry needs a regulator who makes fewer mistakes, takes into account due diligence and does not have a heavy-handed approach when it comes to dealing with innovative practices in training organisations. 


How many criteria of the Regulator Performance Framework, released by the Australian Government does the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) meet?  


For more information click here.


Can ASQA provide a report as to how they are meeting their KPIs like other government departments do, for e.g. The Department of Health produces as part of their self-assessment?


For more information click here. 


  • KPI 1 Regulators do not unnecessarily impede the efficient operation of regulated entities

  • KPI 2 Communication with regulated entities is clear, targeted and effective

  • KPI 3 Actions undertaken by regulators are proportionate to the regulatory risk being managed

  • KPI 4 Compliance and monitoring approaches are streamlined and coordinated

  • KPI 5 Regulators are open and transparent in their dealings with regulated entities

  • KPI 6 Regulators actively contribute to the continuous improvement of regulatory frameworks


In civil litigation, the Commonwealth has a duty to act as a Model Litigant.


For more information click here. 


ASQA, as a Government Agency has a duty and a responsibility to ensure they remain fair, impartial and maintain proper standards in litigation. 


In simple terms, the model litigant obligation requires the government (including ASQA) to apply the highest standards of ethical behaviour at all times including during court and tribunal cases. Specifically, the Legal Services Directions 2017 explains government bodies are obliged to be a model litigant and should always:

  • deal with claims promptly without causing delay

  • act consistently in all matters

  • attempt to avoid, prevent and reduce the scope of litigation

  • keep costs as low as possible

  • try not to take advantage of the other party, especially if they lack resources, and

  • avoid relying on technical defences.


In addition, ASQA has an obligation to assist the Tribunal under section 33 (1AA) of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (Cth) (AAT Act). This section requires that ASQA must focus on assisting the Tribunal to make the correct decision, rather than defending its own original decision. This duty to assist the Tribunal means ASQA should be:

  • making information easily available to the Tribunal

  • avoiding delays, and

  • actively presenting new material (such as evidence of remedial action)


Further, ASQA’s legal practitioners have additional general duties to the Tribunal. T