One of the most critical moments in the life of a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) is undergoing an audit by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). What happens if your RTO is found non-compliant? One option ASQA provides is an Agreement to Rectify, commonly known as ATR. This blog post delves into what ATR entails, based on insights from a recent webinar conducted by VET Resources.
What Triggers an ATR?
After an audit, ASQA will usually provide a result audit report outlining areas of non-compliance. At this juncture, one of the options offered by ASQA is the Agreement to Rectify. The ATR is essentially a formal agreement between the non-compliant RTO and ASQA, outlining steps the RTO will take to rectify the non-compliance issues.
The ATR Template from ASQA
Once you opt for an ATR, ASQA will send a template that will serve as your roadmap for achieving compliance. “What’s on the template? You will record what the non-compliance was, what action you are proposing to take, and what evidence you will provide,” explained John during our webinar.
Timeframe for Rectification
The ATR often allows RTOs a longer period, typically up to three months, to address the non-compliance issues. This extended timeframe is designed to encourage thoughtful planning rather than rushed action. “This is designed quite rightly to get us to think about our approach,” said John.
The Approval Process
After completing the ATR template, it must be submitted to ASQA for review and approval. Once approved, it becomes crucial to adhere strictly to the terms laid out in the agreement.
Progress Reporting to ASQA
An essential part of the ATR process is keeping ASQA updated on your progress. Two months into the agreement, you are required to inform ASQA about whether you’re on track and discuss any potential adjustments that might be needed. “Don’t change anything without informing them. Stick to the agreement,” advised John.
Benefits of ATR for
- Avoiding closure: If an RTO is found to be non-compliant with the ASQA Standards, ASQA may take a number of actions, including issuing a notice of non-compliance, requiring the RTO to develop an improvement plan, or even suspending or cancelling the RTO’s registration. An ATR can be used to avoid closure by providing the RTO with a structured framework for addressing its non-compliance. By entering into an ATR, the RTO agrees to take specific steps to improve its compliance with the ASQA Standards within a set timeframe.
- Reducing financial penalties: ASQA can also impose financial penalties on RTOs that are found to be non-compliant. The amount of the penalty will depend on the severity of the non-compliance. An ATR can help to reduce the amount of any financial penalty that ASQA may impose. This is because ASQA takes into account the RTO’s willingness to cooperate and address its non-compliance when determining the amount of the penalty.
- Improving reputation: If an RTO is found to be non-compliant with the ASQA Standards, this can damage its reputation. This can make it difficult to attract and retain students and staff. An ATR can help to improve an RTO’s reputation by demonstrating that it is committed to compliance and quality. By successfully completing an ATR, the RTO shows that it has taken steps to address its non-compliance and improve its practices.
ATR provides a valuable “breathing time” for RTOs, enabling them to not only address immediate compliance issues but also to enact more long-term solutions. “Let’s look at a response that’s going to not only be there to sort this compliance out but to sort anything out for the future,” John suggested.
A Client’s Experience
One of our clients who opted for an ATR confirmed that ASQA remained engaged throughout the agreement period, even scheduling a midway progress meeting. This ensured both parties were clear about how far the RTO had come in addressing the compliance issues.
The Agreement to Rectify (ATR) serves as a practical approach for RTOs to address non-compliance issues methodically and thoughtfully. It’s a shift that aligns with encouraging RTOs to look beyond quick fixes and aim for sustainable compliance. “So, it’s a great move by ASQA, and I think once you see the template, the template’s easy to fill in,” concluded John.
Have you had any experience with an Agreement to Rectify? We’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments below or reach out to us for further consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q.1. What is an Agreement to Rectify (ATR)?
A.1. An ATR is a formal agreement between a non-compliant RTO and ASQA. It outlines the steps the RTO will take to address and rectify areas of non-compliance within a specified period.
Q.2. How long do I have to complete the rectification?
A.2. Typically, ASQA allows up to three months for the completion of an Agreement to Rectify. This timeframe aims to enable thoughtful and effective action, rather than rushed compliance measures.
Q.3. How do I report my progress to ASQA?
A.3. Two months into the agreement, you’re required to update ASQA on your progress. This report should cover whether you’re on track and any adjustments that may be needed.
Q.4. Can the ATR terms be modified?
A.4. Yes, the ATR terms can be modified, but any changes must be communicated to and approved by ASQA. It’s crucial to stick to the agreed terms unless modifications have been formally approved.
Q.5. Who should sign the ATR?
A.5. The ATR should be signed by the CEO or another person responsible for the RTO. It will also be signed by a representative from ASQA.
Q.6. What happens if I fail to meet the terms of the ATR?
A.6. Failure to meet the terms of the ATR could result in penalties, further audits, or even the revocation of your RTO registration.
Q.7. Can I extend the rectification period?
A.7. Extensions are generally not encouraged but may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Any request for an extension must be formally made to ASQA and approved.
The information presented on the VET Resources blog is for general guidance only. While we strive for accuracy, we cannot guarantee the completeness or timeliness of the information. VET Resources is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. Always consult a professional for advice tailored to your circumstances.