Company or individual details
- Careers Australia Group Limited (Careers Australia)122 171 840
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accepted a section 87B Undertaking from Careers Australia Group Limited (Careers Australia) following an investigation into its marketing practices and enrolment of consumers to its VET FEE-HELP courses.
Careers Australia was established in 2006 and is one of the largest private training providers in Australia. It has 15 campuses located throughout the country, mainly in QLD, but also with campuses in major city centres in NSW, VIC, SA and WA and offers both campus and online courses. Careers Australia offers a broad range vocational education courses to consumers, including VET FEE-HELP Diploma courses initially funded by the Commonwealth. These include courses in business, project management, administration, nursing and counselling.
The ACCC was concerned and Careers Australia has admitted that during the period from 1 August 2013 to 31 March 2015, through the conduct of some of its agents engaging in door-to-door marketing and telemarketing across Australia, it made false or misleading representations and engaged in unconscionable conduct, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). The conduct included:
- misrepresenting that the courses were free
- misrepresenting that the courses would allow consumers to find employment or would increase their chances of finding employment, and
- offering inducements such as iPads and laptops and claiming they were provided for free if the consumer signed up to the courses.
Pursuant to the undertaking, Careers Australia has undertaken to automatically cancel the enrolments of students who have not completed a unit of study, and repay the Commonwealth any amounts received as a result of those enrolments.
Between 1 August 2013 and 31 March 2015, Careers Australia received and processed applications from around 40,000 students for enrolments into its VET FEE-HELP courses. Of these students, 20,242 were enrolled and incurred a debt to the Commonwealth. Careers Australia received approximately $190 million worth of payments from the Commonwealth in relation to these students.
Careers Australia has since cancelled at least 12,130 of these student enrolments and either repaid or partially repaid to the Commonwealth amounts totalling at least $44.3 million, including cancellations made in the course of the ACCC investigation. If the enrolments had not been reversed, Careers Australia could have received payments upwards of $300 million from the Commonwealth.
Pursuant to the undertaking, Careers Australia will also invite other students who may have been misled to approach them should they want to have their enrolment and debt cancelled. Careers Australia has also undertaken to:
- inform students on its website and at its 15 campuses across Australia about the potential availability of having their enrolment and debt cancelled
- establish and implement an ACL Compliance Program, including training for staff and regular reviews, and
- not engage in the conduct of concern in the future.