What is the Asylum Seeker VET program?
The Asylum Seeker Vocational Education and Training (ASVET) program provides eligible asylum seekers 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 expanded the ASVET program to include a range of measures that have increased choice in training providers, broadened eligibility, lowered fees and made a wider range of subsidised accredited courses available for eligible asylum seekers, including access to all courses offered through the Free TAFE for Priority Courses initiative.
Under the ASVET program, asylum seekers have been able to enrol at TAFEs and courses offered by Learn Local providers. Asylum seekers within the program can also self-enrol at private and government-contracted registered training organisations (RTOs). This ensures that asylum seekers can identify their own preferred provider and engage in Skills First-funded training-to-employment pathways themselves.
Enrolment staff within these RTOs would be authorised to conduct a Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) check and retain this as evidence instead 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 encountered significant barriers to participating in education and training. The Victorian Government currently supports asylum seekers, refugees and migrants by providing access to Skills First-funded training and access to Free TAFE courses, ensuring that these learners are exempt from the citizenship requirements to subsidised training.
The Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions (the department) is committed to supporting economic and social prosperity across Victoria by ensuring industries have access to skilled workers and that all Victorians have the knowledge, skills and attributes needed now and for the jobs of the future. The department meets this commitment by lifting participation in training, skills and higher education, building awareness of the value of learning pathways and ensuring that learning is accessible to all. The Victorian Government recognises that people seeking asylum and refugees are among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in our community.
The purpose of the ASVET program is to provide broader pathways to education and training opportunities for people seeking asylum who currently reside in Victoria. This is to assist asylum seekers to gain the skills and qualifications needed to enter the labour market and secure viable and sustainable employment that leads to economic independence.
Victorian Government funding
The Victorian Government committed $6 million in the 2021–22 Budget to provide further funding for participants of the ASVET program, which is allocated over 4 years ($1.5 million annually).
Historically, the Victorian Government had committed $10 million in subsidised, concessional and fee-free government-funded courses from 2018 to 2021. Prior to this funding cycle, the ASVET program was in receipt of $15 million in funding from 2016 over a 3-year period with an allocation of 3,000 Skills First places for eligible visa holders.
Who can participate in the ASVET program?
Eligibility for the ASVET program is available to individuals or dependants of individuals who meet the following criteria:
- hold any humanitarian, protection of refugee visa in Australia; or
- have applied for a humanitarian, protection or refugee visa and hold a bridging visa for this purpose; or
- have made an application under s.417 or s.48b of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) which is yet to be determined and hold a bridging visa.
Individuals must have a visa with study rights, and work rights are required for programs that include work placement.
Support for asylum seekers
Support for asylum seekers through the ASVET program is available 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 training to eligible students.
What does the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre do within ASVET?
The department funds the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) to offer a range of supports to asylum seeker students and the TAFEs, RTOs and LL providers that they engage with.
These activities are linked to increased enrolments and course completions, improved study experiences and supported training pathways to further study and employment.
The funding also gives the training organisations access to a range of supports that assist asylum seekers in achieving their education and training goals, including:
- help desk service for training organisations comprising dedicated staff, telephone and email support, 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?
ASVET program guidelines
Enrolment in subsidised accredited and pre-accredited training
Enrolment in accredited training
Asylum seekers who are eligible for the ASVET program may enrol in accredited courses directly or via ASRC referral.
Individuals who are eligible for the ASVET program may directly enrol in an accredited course with a:
- TAFE institute, or
- Learn Local provider, or
- a registered training organisation.
At enrolment, the training provider will ask the student for visa details to verify their eligibility. The visa will be checked via the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system.
Enrolment in pre-accredited training
Individuals who are eligible for the ASVET program may enrol in pre-accredited training courses directly or via ASRC referral.
Pre-accredited training courses are provided by Learn Local providers, who are managed by the Adult, Community and Further Education (ACFE) Board.
At enrolment, the training provider will ask the student for visa details to verify their eligibility. The visa will be checked via the VEVO system.
Enrolment in accredited and pre-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 or pre-accredited course. To access this service, contact the ASRC on (03) 9274 9807.
Department Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions
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 Training.