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Corporate governance

TEQSA’s corporate governance framework incorporates:

  • regulatory and management decision-making bodies
  • an integrated planning framework
  • systems, policies and directives such as the Enterprise Risk Management Framework and accountable authority instructions
  • an ethical and accountable organisational culture
  • transparency in public reporting.



The TEQSA Commission is responsible for: making regulatory decisions; setting strategic directions; monitoring risk in the sector; and deciding on matters relating to the development of TEQSA’s quality assurance and regulatory framework, and its management of strategic relationships with key stakeholders.

In 2019-20, the Commissioners met on a fortnightly basis to consider and make decisions on regulatory matters.

Accountable authority

Section 132 of the TEQSA Act establishes the Commissioners as the accountable authority for the purposes of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). This confers various responsibilities and powers on the accountable authority to promote high standards of accountability and performance. As the accountable authority, TEQSA Commissioners are responsible for the governance of TEQSA’s operations under the PGPA Act.

In 2019-20, Commissioners met on a quarterly basis as the accountable authority to review performance against the corporate plan, and received monthly reports on the assessment workload and financial performance. Additional meetings were held as required to consider specific matters.

The appointment of Commissioners also includes their role as the accountable authority of TEQSA. Table 16 lists the members of the accountable authority and their period of tenure in the role.

Table 16: Details of the accountable authority during 2019-20


Position title/

Position held

Period as the accountable authority or member within the reporting period

Date of commencement

Date of cessation

Professor Nicholas Saunders

TEQSA Chief Commissioner, accountable authority

6 September 2014

28 February 2021

Professor Peter Coaldrake

TEQSA Commissioner, accountable authority

28 May 2020

27 May 2025

Professor Joan Cooper

TEQSA Commissioner, accountable authority

15 April 2019

14 April 2024

Dr Lin Martin

TEQSA Commissioner, accountable authority

1 February 2015

31 January 2020

Professor Cliff Walsh

TEQSA Commissioner, accountable authority

3 February 2014

2 February 2022

Audit and Risk Committee

TEQSA’s Audit and Risk Committee is established in compliance with section 42 of the PGPA Act and operates under an Audit and Risk Committee Charter, approved by the accountable authority. In 2019-20, the committee comprised three external members (including the Chair) appointed by the accountable authority. Until October 2019, the committee also included a TEQSA Commissioner as an internal member. TEQSA's Audit and Risk Committee Charter is available at www.teqsa.gov.au/our-governance

The Audit and Risk Committee’s role is to provide independent assurance to the accountable authority on TEQSA’s financial and non-financial performance reporting responsibilities, and oversight of risk identification and management. This includes reviewing the proposed internal triennial audit plan to ensure internal audit activities are focused on TEQSA’s key areas of financial and operational risk.

In 2019-20, the following internal audit was carried out: Information, Communications and Technology Service Transition-in Arrangements Review.

In 2019-20, the Audit and Risk Committee met on a quarterly basis, with additional meetings held as required to address specific matters.

Table 17: Details of the Audit and Risk Committee during 2019-20

Member name

Qualifications, knowledge, skills or experience (include formal and informal as relevant)

Number of meetings attended / total number of meetings

Total annual remuneration

Dr Len Gainsford, Chair

Dr Len Gainsford (B Econ Qld MBA Macq MA UNSW DBA Macq PFIIA CRMA GAICD) has 16 years as a PwC and a KPMG partner, nine years as Director Audit and Assurance in the Office of the Secretary of a large State Government Department, ten years chairing Government Audit and Risk Committees and nine years as a University Adjunct Research Fellow. His doctorate is in risk, compliance and compliance culture. He continues to meet all annual CPE requirements for Membership of the Institute of Internal Auditors.


$18 975.00 (GST incl.)

Sally-Anne Pitt, Deputy Chair

Sally-Anne Pitt's areas of expertise include internal audit and performance audit, audit quality, risk management and corporate governance and public policy development and review. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science, a Master of Public Policy and post-graduate business studies from the Darden Business School, University of Virginia (USA). Ms Pitt is a Professional Fellow of the Institute of Internal Auditors and a Director of their Global Board, a Certified Internal Auditor, Certified Government Auditing Professional and is qualified as a Quality Assessment Reviewer by the Institute of Internal Auditors.


$12 650.00 (GST incl.)

Brandon Mack

Brandon Mack has been a senior executive in a large state government department. As a member of its leadership group he was also the lead executive in risk management, occupational health and safety and portfolio performance, reporting and oversight. His fields of expertise also include influencing organisational performance and outcomes in areas spanning major transport projects, transport and planning policy, social policy, corporate governance, corporate planning, procurement, business systems and processes, IT and internal audit. Mr Mack holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree from Monash University.


$12 650.00 (GST incl.)

Professor Cliff Walsh

Professor Walsh's areas of expertise include public sector economics and public policy; regulatory theory and its application to economic, social and environmental issues; economic and social evaluation of public sector programs and regulatory regimes; and intergovernmental economic, political and administrative relations. Professor Walsh holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics from the London School of Economics and a PhD from the Australian National University.

0/1 Professor Walsh resigned from the Committee in October 2019


Security Committee

In 2019-20, TEQSA’s Security Committee comprised the Chief Security Officer, the Director Corporate Group, the Agency Security Advisor and the Information Technology Security Advisor. The committee met quarterly to review all aspects of protective security affecting the agency, and assist the agency to meet its compliance and reporting requirements under the Australian Government Protective Security Policy Framework. From September 2019, TEQSA's General Counsel replaced the Chief Executive Officer as Chief Security Officer for TEQSA.


Corporate Planning

The TEQSA Corporate Plan 2019–23 was:

  • submitted to the Minister for Education on 14 August 2019
  • approved on 29 August 2019
  • published on the TEQSA website by 30 August 2019
  • provided to the Minister for Finance.

Enterprise Risk Management Framework

TEQSA accepts that there may be risk in any aspect of its operations and that having an appropriate strategy for risk identification and management is critical. TEQSA uses a risk-based approach for its day-to-day business and is committed to the continuous improvement of risk management practices in line with the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy and the Department of Finance Resource Management Guide 211 (ISO 31000:2009).

TEQSA’s Enterprise Risk Management Framework is underpinned by a strong organisational culture, a deep understanding of risk in relation to regulatory matters, a risk management policy and risk appetite statement, an enterprise risk register, a Fraud Control and Anti-Corruption Plan, and arrangements for staff training and support.

In 2019-20, the enterprise risk register was amended to address the risks arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Protective security

TEQSA’s Agency Security Advisor is responsible for coordinating security functions in the agency and providing advice to the Chief Security Officer, management and staff on security matters. In 2019-20, TEQSA applied appropriate protective security measures, based on its risk profile, to ensure compliance with the mandatory requirements of the Protective Security Policy Framework.

Ethical standards

TEQSA’s measures to promote ethical standards within the agency include:

  • providing training for all staff in fraud and corruption awareness and conflicts of interest
  • maintaining policies relating to ethical standards and behaviour relevant to TEQSA’s operational context, for example, in relation to email, internet use, fraud and disclosure of information
  • integrating adherence to the Australian Public Service (APS) Code of Conduct and Values into the individual performance and development plans of TEQSA staff.

External scrutiny

TEQSA is subject to external scrutiny by:

  • the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman
  • the Australian National Audit Office
  • the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
  • the Attorney-General’s Department
  • the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
  • parliamentary committees.

During 2019-20, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and parliamentary committees did not issue any reports on the operations of TEQSA. No judicial decisions, decisions of administrative tribunals, or decisions by the Australian Information Commissioner in 2019-20 had a significant impact on the operations of TEQSA.

During 2019-20, the Australian National Audit Office undertook a performance audit to assess the effectiveness of TEQSA's regulation of higher education and reported its findings in April 2020. For further information on the performance audit in this report see Section 3: Australian National Audit Office performance audit.

During 2019-20, TEQSA officials appeared at parliamentary committee hearings for:

  • 2019-20 Supplementary Budget Estimates (24 October 2019)
  • 2019-20 Additional Estimates (5 March 2020).

Fraud control

The Commonwealth Fraud Control Policy requires that accountable authorities provide an annual report about fraud to their Minister. Section 10 of the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 requires the agency to take all reasonable measures to prevent, detect and deal with fraud, including by undertaking fraud risk assessments and establishing a fraud-control plan.

TEQSA’s Fraud and Anti-Corruption Plan sets out TEQSA’s policy and approach to fraud control, procedures to effectively manage fraud and corruption risks and incidents, and relevant reporting obligations. The plan, reviewed annually by TEQSA’s Audit and Risk Committee, also provides for appropriate training and awareness-raising activities to support TEQSA staff in understanding their responsibilities in relation to fraud control.

TEQSA employees are subject to a robust employment screening process. It is compulsory for staff commencing with TEQSA to complete fraud awareness training. Staff with financial delegation are vetted by the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA) to a minimum of a baseline security clearance. As part of the vetting process, a financial history check is completed by AGSVA.

TEQSA adopts a zero-tolerance approach toward fraud and corruption, and aims to manage the fraud risk to a level as low as is reasonably practicable. TEQSA had no incidents of fraud to report for 2019-20. TEQSA remains committed to a proactive approach in fraud management, prevention and detection, in accordance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Policy.

Service Charter

TEQSA is committed to excellence in service delivery and stakeholder engagement. The TEQSA Service Charter articulates the agency’s service standards, approach to engaging with stakeholders, and handling of complaints. In 2019-20, TEQSA updated the Charter to ensure its quality assurance and regulatory approach is responsive and service-oriented. To support good practice in its handling of complaints, TEQSA ensures that students, providers and the general public are informed of options for making complaints about a provider or about TEQSA. More information is contained in this report at Appendix H: Complaints handling.

More broadly, TEQSA manages its relationships with providers in line with the APS Code of Conduct and Values, which emphasise professionalism and accountability.

More information about the TEQSA Service Charter is available at www.teqsa.gov.au/for-providers/resources/teqsa-service-charter.