What is the Asylum Seeker VET program?
The Asylum Seeker Vocational Education and Training (ASVET) program provides eligible asylum seekers and refugees granted temporary residence an exemption from the usual citizenship or residency eligibility criteria required for participation in a government-subsidised Skills First training course.
The Victorian government has recently expanded the (ASVET) program by introducing a range of measures that have increased accredited training places, broadened eligibility, lowered fees, and made a wider range of subsidised accredited courses available to eligible asylum seekers, including access to all courses offered through the Free TAFE for Priority Courses initiative.
As part of the ASVET program, asylum seekers have been able to enrol within TAFEs and Learn Local Registered Training Organisations. As of late-2021, asylum seekers within the program can now self-enrol at ‘private’ Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). This ensures that ASVET participants can identify their own preferred provider and engage in Skills First-funded training-to-employment pathways themselves.
Enrolment staff within these ‘private’ RTOs would be authorised to conduct a Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) check and retain this as evidence in lieu of a referral form, as is currently the case with TAFEs and Learn Local RTOs.
Why is the ASVET program being funded?
The Victorian Government is committed to addressing disadvantage and promoting equity. This includes helping asylum seekers who have significant challenges, including limited resources to reconnect with education and training. The Government is supporting asylum seekers, refugees and recent migrants by providing access to Skills First funding and the ability to enrol in Free TAFE courses, ensuring they are exempt from the citizenship requirements to subsidised training.
The Department of Education and Training’s (the department) vision is to ensure all Victorians have equitable access to quality education and training. The department strives on building an education system that produces excellence, reduces the impact of disadvantage and improves outcomes for every child and young person in every community, regardless of background, circumstance or postcode.
The Victorian Government recognises that people seeking asylum and refugees are amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in our community.
The purpose of the ASVET program is to provide broader pathways and education and training opportunities for people seeking asylum that currently reside in Victoria. This is to help asylum seekers gain the skills and qualifications needed to enter the labour market and secure viable and sustainable employment to develop economic independence.
The Victorian Government is committed to addressing disadvantage and promoting equity.
The Department of Education and Training’s (the department) vision is to ensure all Victorians have equitable access to quality education and training. This can be achieved by:
- capability development
- improving access (for example, financial barriers, placed based delivery)
- increasing choice (for example, work and study, availability of programs to suit aspirations).
Who can participate in the ASVET program?
Individuals must hold a current valid visa with study rights.
Holders of the following visas are eligible to participate in the ASVET program:
- Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV)
- Temporary Protection Visa (TPV)
- Bridging Visa class E (BVE)
- Humanitarian Stay (Temporary) (subclass 449) visa.
- Temporary Humanitarian Concern (subclass 786) visa
Victims of human trafficking, forced marriage or slavery-like offences participating in the federally funded Support for Trafficked Persons Program, who are issued with Bridging Visa Fs (BVFs), are also eligible,. They can be referred to accredited training providers in Victoria by the Australian Red Cross.
Support for asylum seekers
Support for asylum seekers through the ASVET program is in two formats. These are:
- an exemption from the usual citizenship/residency requirements for undertaking Skills First training
- supports that provide guidance, professional development and referrals to TAFEs, Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and Learn Local (LL) Providers with Skills First contracts that deliver Victorian Government subsidised accredited training to eligible students.
What does the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre do within ASVET?
The department provides additional funding to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) to offer a range of supports to asylum seeker students and the TAFEs, Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and Learn Local (LL) providers that they engage with.
These activities will result in increased enrolments and completions of eligible students, improved student experience and supported training pathways to further study and employment.
The funding gives the training organisations access to a range of supports to assist asylum seekers in achieving their education and training goals, including:
- Help desk service for training organisations comprising dedicated staff, telephone and email in order to provide guidance to RTOs about verifying visas and other information for the purposes of validly enrolling students in a Skills First course.
- Dedicated Internet Site of Resources that provides training organisations with readily available, up-to-date information to inform their decisions about supporting their asylum seeker students on campus.
- Establishment and facilitation of RTO community of practice networks that bring together training organisations in specific geographical areas or of specific status (TAFEs/Dual Sector institutes, LLs, ‘private RTOs’ or those who deliver specialised services as relevant to the cohort). These networks are intended to build good practice in the support of asylum seeker students while on campus, and to ensure that good practice examples, guidance documents or other resources are appropriately shared across providers and sectors.
- Delivery of RTO and LL staff professional development workshops.
- Referral of eligible students into Skills First courses via the ‘Referral to Government Subsidised Training – Asylum Seekers’ form or a similar mechanism.
How can I be referred to the program?
ASRC referral process
The ASRC plays an integral role in the ASVET program and provides a thorough referral process to ensure that students are supported where required when identifying, enrolling and completing their education and training.
Please see the ASRC’s referral process below for more details.
ASRC Referral Process
Person seeking asylum can:
- self-present to the ASVET program in person by phone or through email
- be referred internally by an ASRC program
- be referred by another organisation
ASVET staff or volunteer book the prospective student an initial appointment with an Education Advisor at the ASRC.
Education Advisor support prospective students to make informed choices by:
- Exploring qualifications, skills, experience
- Investigating VET course aspirations
- Aligning VET course options and employment opportunities
- Identifying appropriate VET course and an appropriate Provider
If course choice is clear, then referral documents are issued to the chosen provider.
If course choice is unclear, then further appointments are made with an Education Advisor.
Once a VET course is chosen:
- both the applicant and the ASRC complete Parts A and B of the Referral to Subsidised Training - Asylum Seeker form
- a confidentiality agreement is signed by the person seeking asylum
- an Acknowledgement of Enrolment form is issued to chosen training organisation or if applying for a TAFE course, the member may just need a letter confirming eligibility for ASVET.
The person seeking asylum enrols in VET and The ASRC Education Program continues engagement with the student and the training provider.
Students with a valid visa (outlined above) may directly enrol in an accredited course with a TAFE Institute, Registered Training Organisation (RTO) or a Learn Local (LL) provider that delivers accredited courses.
RTOs enrolling asylums seekers will have to be registered with the Department of Home Affairs VEVO check in order to complete the process themselves.
Please see the self referral process below for more details.
Self Referral Process
Self Referral Process:
- Student checks their visa to confirm if they are eligible for the program.
- Student identifies a course they wuld like to undertake () and where it is offered. Skills
- Student contacts the training provider to confirm they have a current government-subsided Skills First Contract.
- Student contacts the training provider to confirm eligibility for ASVET funding and course enrolment.
- The training provider completes a Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) check and retains this as evidence in lieu of a referral form.
- The training provider confirms student's eligibility, course enrolment and any course material fees and concessions.
- Student accepts offer, enrols and commences the course.
Skills Victoria Training System (SVTS) data indicate that 5387 enrolments have occurred under the Asylum Seeker or Victim of Human Trafficking Apprentice Trainee VTG enrolment (ASL) and Asylum Seeker or Victim of Human Trafficking General VTG enrolment (ASP) flags since 2010.
Considering the cohort’s general lack of access to federal welfare payments and training and higher education loans, this is a reasonably high participation rate.
Most participants are undertaking courses in priority industries with current enrolments:
- Building and Construction: 20.4%
- Nursing and allied health:13.85%
- EAL: 10%
Data sourced from the department indicates that in 2021, there were a total of 550 enrolments through the ASVET program, with 313 participants commencing their education and training, and 237 continuing with their studies.
ASVET Program Guidelines
Types of funding
Subsidised accredited training
BVE, SHEV, TPV or 449 visa holders may enrol in accredited courses directly or via ASRC referral.
Direct enrolment in accredited training
Students with a valid visa may directly enrol in an accredited course with a:
- TAFE institute
- Learn Local (LL) provider
- an RTO, that delivers accredited courses.
At enrolment, the training provider will ask the student for visa details to verify visa eligibility. The student visa will be checked via the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system.
Enrolment in accredited training via ASRC's referral service
The ASRC manages a service for eligible asylum seekers that provides vocational education and training advice and referral assistance to students seeking to enrol in an accredited course. To access this service, contact the ASRC on the helpline number listed above.
Enrolment in pre-accredited training
Citizenship requirements apply for all direct enrolments into Adult, Community and Further Education (ACFE) Board subsidised pre-accredited programs.
However, the ACFE Board has approved the inclusion of Jobs Victoria registered asylum seekers into Jobs Victoria identified ACFE Board subsidised pre-employment and pre-accredited programs offered by LL providers (see details below).
JOBS Victoria Employment Network asylum seeker pre-accredited referral program
Jobs Victoria registered clients holding valid BVE, TPV, SHEV with work and study rights may be exempted from citizenship requirements for undertaking identified ACFE Board subsidised pre-employment and pre-accredited programs when referred by Jobs Victoria via a Jobs Victoria Employment Network partner. Please note, 449 visa holders are not eligible for this.
Jobs Victoria Employment Network (Jobs Victoria partners) are funded by Jobs Victoria, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR). The partner organisations support clients to get work, including job search support, work preparation, active engagement with employers to identify suitable employment opportunities and placement into jobs.
The Victorian Government committed $6 million in the 2021/’22 budget to provide further subsidy funding for participants of the ASVET program, which is allocated over four years ($1.5 million annually).
Historically, the Victorian Government had committed $10 million in subsidised, concessional and fee-free government funded courses from 2018 - 2021. From 2016, the ASVET program was in receipt of $15 million in funding over 3 years, with an allocation of 3,000 Skills First places for the eligible visa holders.
Department of Education and Training
For further information on the ASVET program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Phone: (03) 9274 9807
Innovation Hub reception: (03) 8537 9500
For more information, refer to Asylum Seeker Vocational Education .
Reviewed 20 May 2022