Training in equine programs in Australia, 2016

Outline of the review

This strategic review was initiated by ASQA in response to the 2009 death of a young student in a horse riding accident during training at a Technical and Further Education (TAFE) New South Wales institute and the systemic safety issues identified in the subsequent New South Wales Coroner’s report.

The review relied on audits of registered training organisations, surveys of registered training organisations and stakeholder feedback for its findings. The review confirmed the concerns in the Coroner’s report about the content and conduct of the equine training, policies and procedures for assessing horses to be used in training, and the adequacy of trainer and assessor competencies and currency of industry experience.

The implementation of the strategic review’s recommendations will strengthen considerably the quality and safety of equine training and assessment provided to learners. This is particularly important not only for the integrity of the VET sector but also because safe practice and effective risk management is critical to training in the equine industry.

Key findings

Key findings of the review include:

  • Horse riding and horse handling activities occur in a range of income earning, professional and amateur sport, and recreational settings cutting across all age and ability groups. They encompass diverse professional, amateur and recreational organisations and industry regulators.
  • The single unifying theme across all settings is that there is risk in these activities requiring a focus on safety and active risk identification and management.
  • Data indicates there are a significant number of injuries, hospitalisations and fatalities that occur during horse riding and handling.
  • While there are voluntary codes or guides for the horse industry, including one developed by Safe Work Australia, there is no consistent approach for managing work health and safety risks in the horse industry across Australia.
  • As a result of the diversity of settings and activities, there are numerous equine units of competency spread across five industry training packages and many equine VET accredited courses.
  • As VET is training for work and many horse-related activities are sport and recreation based, a large amount of training also occurs outside the VET system.
  • This training landscape makes the market confusing for potential students, who may find it difficult to identify training that matches their needs and skill levels.

Outcomes

The review made eleven recommendations. They focus on particular areas of concern identified through the research undertaken for this review, stakeholder consultations, and the audits that were conducted.

Many of the recommendations require changes to be made to national qualifications to address critical safety and quality issues.

Key recommendations

Key recommendations of this review address the need for:

  • changes to training packages to address safety and quality issues in equine training
  • a consistent approach for managing work health and safety risks in the horse industry across Australia
  • training packages to include minimum benchmarks around the amount of training required for units of competency and VET qualifications
  • the quality of assessment to improve
  • greater clarity in training packages in relation to assessment evidence
  • adequate provision of training and assessment in an actual or simulated environment, and
  • trainers and assessors to gain and maintain vocational competence.

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