A dishonest businesswoman who used bogus qualifications to offer hairdressing, cosmetic tattoo and other beauty courses has been ordered to pay almost $700,000 in penalties and costs. Donna Amanda Harrison, also known as Donna Amanda Hawthorn, was last year found to have contravened the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 134 times between January 2015 and July 2016.
Under the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011(NVR Act), ASQA may issue notices such as a notice of intention to make a decision to an RTO as a result of an audit conducted or complaint received about your RTO by the national regulator. The NVR and ESOS Acts provides ASQA with the powers to apply sanctions of increasing severity—starting from written directions and additional conditions on registration through to suspending or cancelling a provider’s registration. In the event your RTO receives this type of correspondence from ASQA it is critical you understand how to respond to the proposed sanctions effectively to ensure you do not lose your RTO’s licence to operate.
The RTO senior leadership must immediately take action to address the issues identified in the notice and commence working on a plan to respond to ASQA. EDministrate recommends seeking legal advice if the proposed sanction refers to cancellation, rejection of application to renew registration or suspension so you are well informed and clear on your legal options. It is important that the RTO senior leadership remains calm and level headed during this time. Roles and responsibilities of staff involved in contributing to your RTO’s response to ASQA must be clearly defined and expectations communicated to ensure the actions taken are appropriate. If you are the CEO of a small RTO with little or no other senior staff you may consider seeking the support of external consultants such as EDministrate to help you plan your response and next steps.
One of the first steps that should be taken in this matter is to identify internal capability within your RTO. Do you have the expertise in house to prepare your response to ASQA and take the required actions i.e. rectifications and remedial action? If not seek assistance from compliance experts such as EDministrate. While your RTO must continue to operate business as usual while you respond to ASQA’s notice you need to ensure that this issue is given absolute priority in your business so you meet the required deadline and you satisfactorily address all issues identified by ASQA .
If there are extenuating circumstances preventing you from providing your response to ASQA by the deadline given you must contact them immediately to request additional time so that they can consider your case. Failure to do this could have an adverse impact on you successfully addressing the issues identified and meeting the required timeframe. It is also critical that you develop a communication strategy to address any concerns your students or other clients may have should they become aware of proposed action against your RTO. It is extremely important that you manage any potential reputational damage that could be caused by regulatory action taken against your RTO to limit any negative impact on your business.
The effects of the now defunct VET FEE-HELP scheme is still being felt three years after the government scrapped the program as more people discover they were duped by shonky private training providers. It could take up to a year to assess thousands more unresolved complaints according to the Commonwealth Ombudsman and this is due to the unprecedented volume of people coming forward now seeking to have their debts re-credited.
Department of Home Affairs officials have confirmed that around 95,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Australia by plane over the past five years, which Labor claims is fuelling “exploitation and slavery”:
The figures were disclosed in answers to Questions on Notice from Labor’s spokesperson for Home Affairs and Immigration Kristina Keneally.
“There’s nothing wrong with claiming asylum. It’s an important right,” Senator Keneally said.
“However, in 90 per cent of these particular cases, the individuals are not legitimate refugees and are often being trafficked to Australia for the explicit purpose of being exploited”…
Labor is warning Australia is on track to post a new annual record for asylum seeker arrivals by air.
It said 4,037 aeroplane arrivals have made a claim for protection between 1 July 2019 and 19 August 2019…
Senator Keneally has called the figures a crisis, citing concerns for those arriving by plane being exposed to “exploitation, slavery and even sexual servitude across the country”…
“The truth is we have no idea how many aeroplane people may have been critically injured or even died … because of exploitation and slavery that is taking place under his nose”…
Its chair Liberal MP Jason Wood issued a warning over criminal syndicates exploiting vulnerable arrivals.
“Organised crime and illegitimate labour-hire companies are using this loophole to bring out illegal workers who are often vulnerable and open to exploitation,” he said.
“This enables these criminal elements to exploit foreign workers in Australia until their claims are finalised.”
“Organised crime are indeed facilitating unlawful migration on a fee-for-service basis, using methodologies from fake identity documents, to gaming Australia’s visa system”…
“Australia’s border security arrangements are being exploited, and individuals who have not been appropriately identified are at times entering the country”.
“The Australian black economy is indeed being supported by organised crime, who along with businesses involved, are using these methods to exploit workers, and those involved are not paying taxes and are often remitting their salaries out of the country”…
The best graphical illustration of the rise in ‘plane people’ entering Australia is the explosion in Bridging Visas, which are typically handed to migrants awaiting decisions on permanent residency through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT):
As shown above, the number of Bridging visas on issue has roughly doubled since the Coalition was elected in 2013, numbering 205,000 as at June 2019.
Back in July, former High Court Justice, Ian Callinan claimed that the AAT has been inundated with spurious asylum seeker claims, fuelled in part by organised criminals:
[Ian Callinan] said “almost everyone” with migration law experience had told him there were applicants and representatives who “game the system, well knowing there is an automatic entitlement to a bridging visa”.
The Australian Skills Quality Authority told Mr Callinan that delays had repercussions beyond the AAT. It told him it was aware that organised criminals were sometimes, “perhaps even regularly”, benefiting from fake vocational training programs or “ghost’’ colleges…
The AAT now handles about 59,000 lodgements a year: more than half (52 per cent) are migration and refugee cases…
The AAT’s caseload of migration and refugee matters doubled in the two years to June 30 last year…
Thus, while the Coalition pretends that it is strong on border control because it has “stopped the boats”, bogus asylum seekers are pouring into Australia via plane.
However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that Australia’s borders have become increasingly porous, with visa scamming occurring through a variety of channels, including:
Migrants arriving by plane lodging bogus asylum applications;
International students undertaking spurious courses for working rights and subsequent permanent residency;
Illegal labour hire firms, people smugglers and criminal syndicates facilitating undocumented migrants to work for below market rates; and
Businesses using pretend ‘skills shortages’ to hire temporary migrant workers at below market rates.
The visa rorting is systemic and has permeated across the entire Australian economy.