Conflict of Interest
To maintain confidence in the national VET system, the audit process must be open, transparent and defensible. To achieve this, TAC Auditors must be independent and have had no recent association with the RTO or applicant they have been assigned to audit. RTOs, applicants and the audit team are required to declare actual, perceived or potential conflicts of interest.
Auditors must not advise, consult or provide an opinion on any aspect of the provider's business, including staff or clients, unless these are opportunties for improvement to be included in the audit report.
RTOs and applicants are given an opportunity to declare a conflict of interest prior to an audit prior to the audit commencing. For applications, this will be through the
application form. For other audits, correspondence advising the audit provides information about conflicts of interest. Providers cannot use a conflict of interest declaration as a means of 'picking and choosing' an Auditor, and TAC may seek further clarification of the nature of any declared conflicts of interest.
The following conflict of interest information has been adapted from guidance provided by the Government of WA's Integrity Coordinating Group:
Actual - An actual conflict of interest may arise when an RTO/applicant is asked to make a decision that directly affects or impacts their personal or private interests.
Perceived - Importantly, some conflicts may only be perceived—an RTO/applicant's decision could be questioned based on a personal or private interest that may not actually have impacted any decision.
Potential - A potential conflict of interest arises where a person has private interests that could conflict with their official duties in the future, or where a person has competing interests because they hold more than one official role or public duty.
While this may seem obvious to some, conflicts can be difficult for an RTO/applicant to identify themselves—particularly if they are asked to make decisions quickly and without consultation.
In the first instance, RTO/applicant's should refer to the
'six Ps' and ask themselves:
Private interest - Do I have personal or private interests that may conflict or be perceived to be a conflict?
Potential - Could there be benefits for me now or in the future that could cast doubt on my objectivity?
Perception - Remembering that perception is important, how will my involvement in the decision or action be viewed by others? Are there risks associated for me or my organisation?
Proportion - Does my involvement in the decision appear fair and reasonable in all the circumstances?
Presence of mind - What are the consequences if I ignore a conflict of interest? What if my involvement was questioned publicly?
Promises - Have I made any promises or commitments in relation to the matter? Do I stand to gain or lose from the proposed action or decision?
Protection of Intellectual Property
Auditors will protect the intellectual property of RTOs and applicants and any commercial-in-confidence material or information disclosed in the course of the audit.
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