MINISTERIAL STATEMENT- TAFE SA - ASQA INTERIM REPORT


The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: In 2017, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) audit of TAFE SA highlighted serious issues of quality across all the qualifications audited. The 2017 ASQA interim report showed that, of the 16 qualifications audited, all were found to be noncompliant. ASQA proposed that 15 qualifications be removed from TAFE SA's scope altogether and one qualification be suspended. Removal from scope is the most serious sanction ASQA can apply to a qualification.

The subsequent ASQA report, which was released by the former government on 4 December 2017, resulted in ASQA approving two qualifications, proposing to suspend 10 qualifications from accepting new enrolments from 23 January 2018, and four of the qualifications had since been superseded and were no longer relevant. The former government responded to the report by dismissing the chair of the board, accepting the resignation of the chief executive and commissioning two reviews into TAFE SA.

I wish now to update the house that, as expected, ASQA has conducted a further compliance monitoring audit of TAFE SA from 17 to 21 September 2018. The 2018 audit was a planned and expected follow-up to the audit of TAFE SA conducted by ASQA in 2017. I have been advised that the 2018 ASQA interim report has now been provided to TAFE SA, and there is a significant improvement over the previous ASQA audit findings. Once again, 16 qualifications were audited. While the 2017 interim report proposed removing 15 qualifications from scope, the 2018 interim report does not threaten that sanction for any courses. This is a dramatic improvement.

The 2018 interim report does identify six qualifications with noncompliant units of competency that are likely to require some form of remediation lest they be suspended. TAFE SA is already well underway in undertaking this necessary remediation to ensure minimal if any impact on students undertaking these courses. It is clear that quality issues still remain to be addressed, but it is extremely positive that no qualifications were recommended to be removed from TAFE SA's scope. It is also extremely encouraging to recognise that 10 of the 16 qualifications audited are not under any threat of sanction, an improvement of 10 compared with the equivalent stage last year.

The 2018 ASQA audit focused on activity from February to August 2018, so it was not unexpected that some compliance issues might be identified as TAFE SA has been improving its quality procedures throughout this year. Throughout 2018, TAFE SA has done a great deal of work to address quality issues, including the appointment of an executive director of quality teaching and learning, and TAFE SA has embarked on its own quality system improvement project, which involves the review and assessment of all 600 qualifications on scope to ensure that they meet compliance requirements regardless of whether or not they are subject to an ASQA audit.

Since forming government in March, we have supported TAFE SA by refreshing the board, by taking an active role in supporting the interim CE in her work, through new financial investment, including the $109 million rescue package in the state budget, and through the release of A Fresh Start for TAFE SA, the government's comprehensive plan to transform the organisation and, indeed, give it a fresh start and a confident future.

It is clear that TAFE SA, now overseen by a government committed to its future as an effective, efficient and industry-responsive training provider, is on the right track, but it will take time to completely overcome the systemic issues we inherited from the former government. I am informed that TAFE SA now has until 30 November 2018 to respond to the matters identified in the 2018 interim report and that it intends to rectify all matters such that the final report from ASQA clears all noncompliances.

No sanctions have been threatened for audited qualifications in the training areas of training and assessment; dental assisting; engineering, fabrication trade; hairdressing and beauty services; retail services; companion animal services and veterinary nursing; individual support; and nursing. Noncompliant units, which will likely have some student impacts, were identified in the qualifications of Diploma of Aeroskills (Mechanical), Diploma of Aeroskills (Avionics), Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, Certificate IV in Fitness, and Diploma of Business.

TAFE SA has advised that approximately 300 students may need some form of remediation, such as an extra test, as a result of the 2018 interim report's findings. I am advised that the vast majority of these students are continuing students and will simply have this remediation built into their remaining studies. TAFE SA is communicating with all impacted students directly, and they have informed me that the identified noncompliances will have no impact on students' qualifications. There are 22 students who have completed their courses, whom TAFE SA will be contacting directly, as they need to be offered the opportunity to complete an extra assessment.

The 2018 interim report represents an enormous step forward from last year, but it also highlights that there is still some more work to be done. The government is determined to provide the best possible oversight, support and strategic direction to ensure that TAFE SA successfully completes its journey of recovery from the state in which it was left by the former government. I want to particularly acknowledge and thank those TAFE SA staff members from throughout the organisation, up to and including the interim CE and the board, who have contributed to the dramatic improvements I have highlighted and who continue to work so hard to deliver high-quality training for South Australian students. This is an organisation with a fresh start and a bright future.