At the 12 April 2022 meeting, the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) approved updates to the Industry Reference Committee (IRC) Operating Framework. The document establishes the minimum operational requirements for IRCs to meet the high standards of integrity, probity and transparency expected by the Australian public.
Key changes to the IRC Operating Framework include:
- an updated section on scheduling and commissioning of training package development (TPD) work to reflect transition arrangements and the wind-down of the Training Product Development Programme (as agreed by Skills Ministers in late 2021)
- new conflict of interest provisions.
Conflict of interest
Section 5.4.3 of the IRC Operating Framework has been comprehensively updated to support IRCs to better identify, declare and manage conflicts of interest.
A few key points are highlighted below.
- The definition of conflict of interest has been updated to include circumstances where members have a material interest.
- The roles and responsibilities of IRCs and Skills Service Organisations (SSOs) has been made clearer.
- IRC Chairs will be responsible for ensuring all conflicts of interest are being identified, declared and managed appropriately at each IRC meeting.
- A register must continue to be kept for all conflicts of interest. The AISC Secretariat has developed a Register of Interests template that must be used (refer to link below).
- IRC Members will need to declare all conflicts of interest on joining an IRC and ensure they are kept up to date, including when the nature or scale of a previously declared conflict changes or a new conflict arises. Members will also need to include information on how they will separate these interests from their role on the IRC.
- SSOs will maintain the register and will be required to seek updates from Members ahead of each IRC meeting so it can be presented and discussed on the agenda at every meeting. SSOs are responsible for correctly recording all conflicts in the register and recording IRC decisions regarding materiality.
- The process for remedial action where concerns are raised that an IRC or IRC Member(s) is not compliant with the conflict of interest requirements, has been outlined in Section 126.96.36.199.
The AISC Secretariat has also developed supporting material to assist IRCs and SSOs in identifying, declaring and managing conflicts of interest:
- Register of Interests template
- Conflict of Interest Decision Tree
- Conflict of Interest Checklist for IRCs
- Conflict of Interest Checklist for SSOs
- Case Studies
If you have any questions related to the updates to the IRC Operating Framework and the conflict of interest clauses, please email AISCSecretariat@dese.gov.au.