We are so excited! The LearnX 2022 Awards were announced yesterday and we’re proud to reveal that Audit Express took out two Diamond awards.
Here is a little bit about the award categories and the projects we won awards for:
Best Learning & Talent Development Project – Compliance Training: Diamond Award for the Ask The Auditor Series Webinar/Broadcast
In 2021 we launched the ‘Ask the Auditor’ webinar series. This webinar series is a free monthly 30-minute session that provides an opportunity for VET (vocational education & training) sector professionals to pose important questions regarding compliance and auditing and have them answered live by our experienced and trusted VET industry auditors.
The series was created to support registered training organisations (RTOs), who may not have large budgets for professional development, to navigate the complexities of Australia’s VET sector regulations.
Each monthly webinar covers a particular theme, which aligns with ASQAs Standards – this provides comprehensive coverage of the most commonly asked questions.
The level of engagement in the Ask the Auditor sessions has been immense, with hundreds of attendees participating each month.
Australian RTOs have come to rely on the Ask the Auditor series to meaningfully contribute to their professional development as VET practitioners, as well as provide them with free access to a team of highly qualified and experienced VET industry auditors to help answer their questions.
We’ll be announcing the schedule for the 2023 Ask the Auditor sessions shortly – please sign up for updates to make sure you are notified of when registrations open.
Best Talented Team – Compliance Team: Diamond Award for the Audit Express Quality Assurance & Improvement Program Team
In 2014 we rolled out our Quality Assurance & Improvement Program (QAIP) for RTOs that were experiencing a worsening shortage of qualified compliance personnel within the training sector.
The QAIP affords training providers with the frameworks and resources needed to systematically monitor, evaluate and continually improve operations.
A retainer-based service, the QAIP provides ongoing compliance support services to training organisations, including annual auditing programs, consulting & advisory services and professional development. Each Program is highly customised to the needs and situations of each individual client.
The QAIP continues to enable training organisations who either cannot find the right compliance specialists, or who cannot afford to employ a compliance specialist full-time, to access a team of highly qualified and experienced compliance professionals, who become an extension of their team.
The highly talented team that runs the QAIP programs for our clients comprises thirteen individuals, ranging from leadership to quality assurance professionals and support staff.
Since its inception, the QAIP has continued to foster a culture of continuous improvement within training organisations, ultimately helping them to provide the highest possible quality of training to students.
If you run an RTO and want ongoing quality and compliance support, get in touch with our QAIP team.
We are forever grateful for the immense talent that makes up the team here at Audit Express and we’re looking forward to what our team will achieve in 2023!
Today, 17th May, is IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia). It is a day to drive awareness of the violence, discrimination, and repression that the LGBTQIA+ community faces worldwide.
A brief history
In 2005, the first IDAHO day was inaugurated. The 17th of May was chosen as that was the day that homosexuality was removed as a mental illness from the International Classification of Diseases in 1990.
Since the first IDAHO in 2005, the day has grown to raise awareness of human rights for all areas of the LGBTQIA+ community, becoming IDAHOBIT.
Where we are now
Even with broad social progress in Australia, sexuality and gender-diverse communities still are subjected to bias and prejudice. This can have significant impacts on the physical, mental health and well-being of members of the LGBTQIA+ community. You just need to look at the current discussions that are happening as part of the 2022 Federal election to see that Australia still has a long way to progress before real equality is achieved.
I encourage everyone to go out and enjoy the celebrations planned for IDAHOBIT: hold an event at work, or at your school. It is important to remember that days of recognition like IDAHOBIT need to go beyond waving a rainbow flag.
Days of recognition need to be used to further the discussion on how to be more inclusive at work, school and in the community as a whole. We all need to work together to make society more inclusive and remove the violence and discrimination that the LGBTQIA+ community still faces on a daily basis.
More information on IDAHOBIT day can be found at:
Minus 18 Org: How to have a Great IDAHOBIT at work
Minus 18 Org: How to have a Great IDAHOBIT at school
At Audit Express, we are proud to have a team made up by talented and diverse professionals. Today we celebrated International Women’s Day with a morning tea, and asked each of our team members to tell us what today means for them.
I see International Women’s Day as a chance to reflect on the achievements of all women, including women of colour, women with disabilities, trans women, etc. As we celebrate our achievements it is also important to ensure that any push for equality uplifts us all, removing the rights for one group to seemingly protect another hurts all women. The fight for equality must come as a united voice, regardless of race, religion or sexual identity.
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate everything that women do and to acknowledge what we have fought for over the years.
I think International Women’s Day celebrates all the achievements that women have done across the globe, giving women the recognition they deserve for all the hard work they have done.
International Women’s Day is a celebration and affirmation that women’s contribution to society is equivalent to any gender.
Recognising women’s achievements today encourages all individuals, groups, and communities to endorse women’s equal standing within our society.
Women at no matter what age they are, are valuable contributors in the workforce.
I am a full time worker.
I am a full time mother.
I am a full time wife.
I am a full time daughter.
Women can do everything!
As a mother of two little girls, International Women’s Day is important to me to teach them to be whoever they want to be; to challenge the status quo; be brave, be courageous, be independent and always be themselves.
International Women’s Day is about creating a world which is free of discrimination and builds a positive environment for women to celebrate equality, inclusivity and diversity.
To me, International Women’s Day is a celebration of everything we are and can do. Strength in unity and striving for quality without leaving anyone behind. There is so much still to do to quash the unconscious bias many women face, but by sticking together, and calling out injustice, there is hope.
To me, International Women’s Day is one of the most important days of the year. This is a day for acknowledging the incredible women in our lives, and to give thanks to our daughters, mothers, cousins, aunts, grandmothers, neighbours and colleagues for being all that they do.
International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate being a woman and acknowledge achievements big and small for every wonderful woman out there.
We hope that you enjoy International Women’s Day today, no matter how you choose to celebrate it!
Cover image by CoWomen on Unsplash.
Today is United Nations Day of People with Disability (IDPwD), a day observed for increasing awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability.
IDPwD presents an opportunity for us to have meaningful conversations about how we can make the world around us, or at least the things that we can control, an inclusive and accessible place for people with varied needs. Accessibility is crucial (and a human right) in all areas of life: in the living and working environment but also in education.
Around 18% of Australians live with some form of disability, yet students with disability are historically disadvantaged in terms of access to and participation in higher education in Australia. According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics release, persons aged 15-64, only 18.4% of people with disability have a bachelor degree or higher, compared to 32.8% for individuals without disability. People with disability are more likely to have attained a Certificate level qualification (27.1%) than those without disability (20.6%).
Some of this gap can be attributed to poor accessibility at physical campus locations and the inaccessibility of teaching methods and learning materials. There are many organisations in Australia that put accessibility at the centre of their operations, but there is still some way to go in making this uniform across the education sector.
GenU Training is a registered training organisation offering qualifications in disability, mental health and aged care support, and are a shining example of how educational institutions can create more flexible and inclusive spaces for people living with disability and diverse needs.
We spoke to our friends at genU Training, Lisa and Emmalie, about how they engage and include students with disability in education – here is our chat:
Can you give us an intro to genU, and some comments around what you think educational institutions should be focusing on in terms of accessibility, plus what’s important to your organisation?
At genU Training, we deliver training to a range of people, regardless of age, demographic, or whether they were born with or acquired a disability in their life. We offer qualifications for people with an intellectual disability, as well as open employment opportunities through the community sector. Our learning materials, including written materials and our digital outlook is in line with the WTAG guidelines, and for this, we are aiming to achieve an AA rating.
It could be a range of different ways that you achieve a WTAG AA rating as an RTO or training provider: it’s the way that something’s written and presented or the contrast between colours, so content is able to be read by screen reading technology. A lot of the WTAG guidelines are very much for the vision impaired – for content to be easily accessible through a digital device.
What’s key to us is awareness – and for genU, a disability service provider, that awareness is front and centre in everything we do on a daily basis. We’re surrounded by subject matter experts and people with lived experience, through the exposure that we have within genU. Accessibility simply becomes part of what we do inherently, as opposed to something that we have to “add on”.
We believe that it’s really important to involve and invite people with lived experience into whatever training opportunity presents itself. There are ways and means not to be ‘nervous’ around that prospect. In the VET space, we talk a lot about ‘reasonable adjustments’ when it comes to compliance. But not only just in assessment and learning, it’s around adjusting environments to allow a level of comfort for someone accessing training in our properties as well.
In regards to accessibility within our buildings, they need to meet Disability Discrimination Act regulations. For someone with a physical limitation, there should be no barrier to education or to being part of our organisation. We consider things such as access points, the size of the doorways, availability of accessible toilets. We make sure that we’ve got provisions for a range of different people who may need to use the buildings, and that our spaces are open and inclusive to everybody.
We even have a couple of staff here who require physical therapy during the day, so we’ve provided a space where they can access a massage table here on site. It’s not unlike a breastfeeding parent or someone with religious needs: we ensure we have a private space for people to do what they need to do without judgment.
We feel that it’s about ensuring that disability is not a barrier to being involved in any form, whether that be education or work. These sorts of accommodations are definitely something that is well documented in VET when providing supports and adjustments, but I think at genU we’re exceptionally good at providing support needed for any student, whether they’re doing a two hour workshop or undertaking a 12 month course with us.
There’s a huge amount of value in bringing lived experiences into any learning environment and using that to inform what you do. When we speak to our learners, we find that the reasons for them selecting vocational courses that we deliver is often due to their own lived experience, their caring responsibilities or their experiences in life where they’ve had interactions with a person who has a disability or mental health condition – this is often a reason for them to pursue disability support training.
Interestingly, in recent times, we’ve seen that the COVID-19 pandemic has actually encouraged some people with disability, who have previously been nervous to participate in education, to join us in a virtual space because of the increased accessibility that brings. Moving to online learning has removed at least the physical barrier of getting yourself from home into the training site.
We’ve even seen some individuals with mental health or psychosocial disabilities at times prefer online training. Not having to physically attend a class and being able to control their environment has its benefits. It takes that block away from joining a classroom environment, especially for people who may not have been in a classroom since they were in school or people who may have had a negative experience with education previously. In that sense, we feel there have been some positives to come out of COVID-19!
Also, the increased availability of disability apps and tech is enabling people who may be vision impaired, or have auditory disabilities, to be able to access so much more learning, and to be more a part of the community – and really, to experience life as they should be able to.
What can you recommend for educational institutions with less of a background in disability – where should they start in assessing and making changes to ensure accessibility?
We think it’s about going straight to the source: there’s a huge amount of generosity in people with lived experience, who are happy to provide advice and direction on the topic. It’s about being willing to be vulnerable, asking questions and ultimately, being open to receiving advice and making changes.
There’s such a wealth of knowledge and information in the community of lived experience. For us, that feedback mechanism with our students is really valuable. We are learning all the time – if things aren’t working, we listen and change what we’re doing.
We’ve also got some amazing guest speakers who we’ve engaged to come in and speak with our learner cohorts about advocacy, disability and workplaces and the kinds of questions to ask of learners, which we’ve found really valuable. We’ve got a list of different people that we tend to check in with, and who are always a great point of reference for us.
If you were to start from scratch, it’s about how you communicate with your community and ensure inclusiveness for everyone. We recently undertook a survey around confidence in being able to communicate with people with a disability, whether it be flashcards or written word; exploring what it is that would help somebody be able to communicate what they need.
Having that confidence allows people then to open up the conversation to what else they may need to change within their RTO or their business in general. From a customer service point of view, that’s the starting point: being able to connect with your learners and with the community in an accessible way.
The more complex task is actually reviewing your learning materials and asking: is this really accessible to somebody who may be visually impaired? That’s the more rigorous process, in ensuring you’re fostering an inclusive community.
What benefits do you see there being for the community in being a more inclusive organisation?
Although we think we have fantastic trainers who provide exceptional training and education, we also find that one of the greatest experiences our learners have is learning from each other. We think that learning by listening, by having conversations, experiencing life or situations through the viewpoint of someone else is incredibly powerful. Having a learner cohort that is representative of society, and all of the diversity that comes with it, benefits the most – and much of that comes from interacting with each other. We think that opening the opportunity for people from all backgrounds to interact and learn with each other helps remove some of the fear of not knowing what to do or say around people with different abilities.
[Emmalie]: I’ll give you an example. We had a fantastic friend of ours from an RTO come in to do some videos involving some people who had lived experience with disability working together, interviewing each other about some of the things that they’ve experienced in life. It was just incredible being able to listen to those stories, but this particular lady had a vision impairment and I was providing her with some assistance to exit the building for a short break. I found myself just asking her, “What should I do?”. Because I needed to provide her the guidance and she actually gave me really clear feedback on walking too quickly, or too slowly, which we had a bit of a laugh about.
It’s about being open to the experience and saying, ‘I’m going to ask you how I’m going with this’. I think that’s where, in training, people with different abilities do learn from each other. Having that sense of openness and not being afraid to ask questions – that’s where our learners tell us it’s as important for us to learn from each other’s experience as it is to learn words on a page.
Ultimately, we think that committing to being an accessible learning institution is about having an openness to a rich and diverse community, understanding that disabilities take many forms, and to really commit to being inclusive in everything that you do.
Below are a few resources that can help guide you in making your spaces and teaching resources accessible for everyone:
Crack open the bubbles: We have won two Gold awards at this year’s LearnX Awards, which were announced on Wednesday!
Here is a little bit about the award categories and the projects we submitted:
Best Talent Partnership – Compliance Training: Gold Award won in conjunction with Chisholm Institute
In April 2020, we were engaged on a project by Chisholm Institute, focused on overhauling the organisation’s policies and procedures, as well as redeveloping their Education Quality Framework (EQF).
There was a need within Chisholm for greater clarity around the systems and processes within the organisation, as well as developing a shared understanding of roles and responsibilities for key quality tasks.
Surveying of the Chisholm workforce after the delivery of the revamped EQF showed a high level of buy-in for and understanding of the new Framework, as well as a better sense of feeling informed about quality assurance processes.
Why did this partnership work so well? We believe that when an organisation brings in an external expert to drive a change project, they get the benefit of an ‘outsider’s’ point of view. Using the knowledge and experience of external specialists, teams are less likely to fall into the trap of looking at improvement through the lens of history and old habits.
Best Pandemic Response – Compliance Training: Gold Award
The start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year meant so much uncertainty for educational institutions, with providers feeling the added pressure of needing to remain compliant amidst the quick shift from face-to-face to online learning.
Within hours of the announcement of lockdowns, we were receiving calls from clients seeking advice on how they could rapidly update their training and assessment strategies (in some cases for thousands of training products!) to reflect the changes in the delivery of training and assessment.
With our experience in RTO compliance and auditing, we were in a good position to assist not only our clients, but to extend our help to the wider RTO community.
We provided guidance to the sector in collaboration with ASQA on how to maintain compliance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We also ran a series of free webinars in collaboration with VELG and the VET Development Centre, that were open to the entire VET sector, focussing on guiding training providers through how to cope with and respond to the changes brought about by the lockdowns, whilst maintaining compliance.
We then made available a series of tools and resources for RTOs that would help with record-keeping – in particular – a free online TAS (Training and Assessment Strategy) Change Register, that was used by hundreds of training providers across Australia.
The industry responded with really positive feedback and gratitude for saving them time and cutting out a few headaches during a stressful period.
A huge shout out to the team of incredibly hardworking professionals we are fortunate to have here at Audit Express.