4 October 2018

New remedy for debts incurred through conduct under VET FEE-HELP

New remedy for debts incurred through conduct under VET FEE-HELP

The Australian Government has announced new legislation that, if passed, will allow the Secretary of the Department of Education and Training (DET) from 1 January 2019, to cancel VET FEE-HELP debts that were incurred inappropriately, following a recommendation from the Commonwealth Ombudsman (the Office). Further information on the new remedy is available on DET's website here.

Anyone who wishes to dispute a VET FEE-HELP debt will be required to lodge a complaint with the Office using our online form or calling 1300 362 072 and choosing option 6. We will assess and investigate the complaint, and begin making recommendations to the DET from 1 January 2019 to re-credit debts, subject to the passage of legislation. If their complaint is eligible to be considered under the new process, we will also work with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to defer the complainant's debt, so that they do not have to make repayments while we assess and investigate their complaint. The complainant is made aware that the deferment is temporary, the debt remains and indexation continues to accrue unless the debt is re-credited or otherwise cancelled.

As this is a new remedy proposed to be available for complainants, we are now assessing and investigating our existing complaints to prepare them for recommendation from 1 January 2019 (noting the existing complainants have already had their debts deferred with the ATO where possible). We already have a significant number of complaints that we expect to be able to consider under this new process.

If you have already lodged a complaint with the Office, your complaint will remain open while we investigate and we will contact you in December 2018 with an update.