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Working With Children and Police Checks

logo-wwcc1Staff (including volunteers) who work with children must undergo a police background check which can be arranged with the local police. Strict state guidelines determine who needs to undergo the check, who is exempt and what information can be sought and given to employers. Operators must ensure that they treat the information confidentially and in accordance with legislated privacy requirements. Businesses should familiarise themselves with the state requirements and ensure staff or potential staff undergo all the checks at the appropriate time.

see also Child Protection Policies

Volunteers

Volunteers are to be treated in the same way as paid staff in this matter.

Limitations

A police check is a useful tool for staff selection but the system has inherent limitations. To ensure young people are protected the business should also have in place written policies to supplement the formal police checks.

Requirements in Australian States and Territories

A useful overview of the requirements is available from the Australian Institute of Family Studies, National Child Protection Clearinghouse- https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/topics/child-protection-legislation

The Queensland Family and Child Commission (QLD) is responsible for police checks and screening for the state of Queensland and lists the Changes to Child Protection Legislation in Queensland . The Office of the Children’s Guardian is the New South Wales (NSW) body who handles the NSW Working With Childrens Check. Both NSW and Queensland legislate for minimum standards for those who work or volunteer with children in broadly identified occupations or activities to undergo screening for criminal offences. Western Australia passed legislation in November 2004 that will require certain people working with children to have a national criminal record check from 1 January 2006. Victoria also passed similar legislation in July 2005 that will be gradually phased in over five years from mid-2006. The Northern Territory has drafted legislation that currently is under consideration. Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have released discussion papers, but have not yet drafted legislation. South Australia has not put forward specific legislation on this issue.

All States and Territories have legislation that requires specific child-related occupations such as teachers or childcare workers to be screened for criminal offences.

Non-government and private organisations may have policies that require their employees and volunteers to undergo criminal records screening. State and Territory police provide these to individuals and organisations wishing to obtain national police certificates for employment, voluntary work and occupation related licensing or registration purposes.

ACT

The ACT government released a discussion paper for the creation of a screening scheme that stipulates minimum standards for broadly identified child-related occupations and activities. It was proposed that this could be the function of a Commissioner for Children and Young People as outlined in the Position Paper: For a proposed Australian Capital Territory Commissioner for Children and Young People from the ACT Chief Minister’s Department, 2004. Criminal history check application forms are covered by the ACT Police Department- http://www.afp.gov.au/business/national_police_checks.

At present there are no legal statutes that require people working with children to undergo a police check, although individual organisations may have their own policies in this regard.

New South Wales

The Office of the Children’s Guardian is the New South Wales (NSW) body who handles the NSW Working With Childrens Check. This checklist aims to create workplaces where children are safe and protected, and where the people who work with children are appropriately screened.

Northern Territory

A program known as SAFE NT (Screening Assessment for Employment NT) is managed by the Northern Territory Police which allows online applications for Criminal History Check, Working with Children Clearance Notice, Working with Children Clearance Notice Renewal, Change of Details.

Queensland

The Queensland Government is responsible for the blue card system (criminal history checks) for people wanting to commence employment or volunteer work with children, and covers police checks.

South Australia

Obtaining criminal history reports is embedded in the Children’s Protection Act (Section 8B). Applications for a police record check can be done by downloading the form from the SA Pol website. A National Police Certificate Application Form is available on the website of the South Australia Police Department- http://www.police.sa.gov.au/sapol/home.jsp

Tasmania

The Commissioner for Children Tasmania released a consultation paper discussing proposals for the government to introduce policies and procedures for Tasmanian organisations to screen individuals who seek to work with children in a voluntary or paid capacity. You can view their Child Safe Policy here. Criminal history record checks are provided by the Tasmanian Police Department.

At present there are no legal statutes that require people working with children to undergo a police check, although individual organisations may have their own policies in this regard.

Victoria

The Victorian Parliament has enacted the Working with Children Check to provide a screening process for individuals who seek to work with children in a voluntary or paid capacity. The new procedures are now in place.

The Victoria Police provides a service to individuals and organisations in Victoria wishing to obtain national police certificates for employment, voluntary work and occupation related licensing or registration purposes. Criminal history record checks are provided by the Police Department- http://www.police.vic.gov.au/content.asp?Document_ID=274

Western Australia

A Working with Children Check is a national criminal record check that is compulsory for people who carry out child-related work in Western Australia.

Working with Children Checks are very different from a National Police Check conducted by the WA Police, which many employers may currently require of their employees or volunteers.

The Department of Local Government and Communities and WA Police have established a program enabling eligible West Australian volunteering organisations to provide their volunteers with a National Police Check for a reduced fee-National Police Check for Volunteers Program.