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9 December 2020
In December 2019, bulletin 96 outlined some law changes including those affecting the Compulsory Professional Development (CPD) program. These changes included the introduction of a standalone provision and associated penalties for non-compliance of the program in the Settlement Agents Act 1981 (the Act).
From 1 January 2021, enforcement of these changes will commence, as well as the introduction of additional changes to the program.
The CPD cycle has always been a period of 12 months from 1 January to 31 December. In each CPD cycle, licensees must collect at least six points from approved CPD activities before the 31 December deadline. These educational requirements are now in the Act.
Starting 1 January 2021, Consumer Protection will check your CPD points for the previous CPD cycle. These checks will continue to occur at the start of each new calendar year.
The approved registered training organisation (RTO) conducting the CPD activity will provide us with details of your CPD points. However, we may contact you for additional information.
If you do not obtain all of the required points by 31 December, you will be non-compliant with your CPD obligations under the Act. You will need to complete the activities to obtain the outstanding points as soon as possible. You will also need to obtain the CPD points for the current CPD cycle.
Settlement agent Bert obtained the two elective points for the 2020 CPD cycle before 31 December 2020. From 1 January 2021, Bert must take immediate action to enrol in CPD activities that will provide him with the outstanding four core points for 2020. Additionally, before 31 December 2021, Bert must enrol in approved activities to obtain at least four core and two elective points for the 2021 CPD cycle.
For each day that you continue to be non-compliant with your CPD obligations, you remain in breach of the requirements under the Act.
Consumer Protection will take enforcement action for breaches of the law. This may include disciplinary or prosecution action, where a penalty of up to $5,000 may be applied.
If you have not taken action to complete your outstanding points then it will be open to the Commissioner for Consumer Protection to address the ongoing nature of the offence by proceeding with further prosecution or disciplinary action, which can include seeking a suspension or cancellation of your licence.
Completing CPD ensures that you understand your duties and obligations. If you do not, the Commissioner may consider that you do not fully understand your duties and obligations under settlement laws. This may result in the refusal of your renewal application.
Previously, individuals could obtain outstanding CPD points during a subsequent CPD cycle – such as completing 2019 CPD points during 2020 – with Consumer Protection paying for the cost of the mandatory training packages.
From 1 January 2021, Consumer Protection will no longer subsidise the catch up mandatory CPD training. RTOs will facilitate the delivery of the online mandatory CPD training packages so you can complete any outstanding points for the previous CPD cycle. The RTO will require you to pay for the training as part of the registration process.
This means that if you do not complete the mandatory activities by the 31 December deadline, you can now expect to incur the cost of completing the outstanding CPD activities. This is on top of the potential penalties that may result from the enforcement action we take.
If you are no longer active in the industry, you may wish to consider surrendering your registration or triennial certificate, and put your licence on hold.
We are currently working on further changes to settlement laws. One of the potential new amendments to the Settlement Agents Regulations 1982 will provide the capacity to issue a $1,000 infringement notice for failing to obtain the CPD points.
Another amendment to the regulations will ensure that even if you place your licence on hold, you will still need to complete the mandatory activities during each CPD cycle. This is already a policy that Consumer Protection adopts. The inclusion in the regulations will formalise this requirement.
Further information about CPD is available on our website. If you have any queries about your CPD please contact email@example.com.