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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Pre-Employment Screening Topics National Police Checks Does a working with children check include a police check?

    Does a working with children check include a police check?

    Background checks are essential documents/criteria in Australia before recruitment or admission into a body or organisation. These Checks reveal various aspects about the individual depending on the organisation's needs at the point, and they remain private records of the candidates.

    The most popular of these background checks at the Police Checks requested by most organisations. Unlike other types of Checks, they are a list of the candidate's official records held in the State/Territory. The Working with Children Check is also a unique/custom check for candidates who aspire to work in child care or any child-related role.

    While these Checks give background information to the requesting party, they vary in use, form and content. Therefore, it is wrong and provocative to interchange the results or use them for other purposes.

    A working with children check (WWC) does not include a police check and are two different types of checks. A working with children check (WWC) cannot be substituted for a national police check (or vice versa) since they are carried out for their own (unique) purposes using their own (unique) methods.

    Police Checks

    The Police Check is a record/list of all the candidate’s convictions or criminal history in Australia. They include general information about the candidate's criminal history and other legal punishments given by a court or tribunal.

    The Poice Check is not meant to be a pass/fail document but any information about the individual. Although it is not meant for a particular purpose, it is most useful in;

    Working with Children Check

    The Working with Children Check (WWCC) is a crucial check for the childcare sector. It is impossible to get a role in child care or any children related role without a WWCC. It is an ongoing assessment of a candidate’s suitability for a child-related role.

    The Working with Children Check lasts for only a given period before the candidate must apply for a re-evaluation. The working with children checks ensures that candidates have no previous involvement or charges of compromising acts in the past. Most times, the scope of the Check goes past the court convictions.

    Differences between a Police Check and Work with Children Check

    There are many visible and legal differences between a criminal history check and a Working with Children Check. More than ever, it shows how neither of these Checks can replace the other.

    • 1. Expiry and Duration

    While the Police Check is a point-in-time check, the WWCC is a renewable evaluation notice.

    The Police Check is only as current as the issue period; there is no way to check the candidate for recent offences. Usually, most organisations will demand updated Police Checks within respectable periods, especially those handling sensitive roles.

    The WWCC requires the candidate to undergo a re-evaluation after their permit expires. Since the WWCC mostly operates as a permit, there is always a fixed period under the respective States laws. It ranges from 2-5 years.

    • 2. Use and Application

    The Police Check is more general information about the individual, though it can still be tailored to the demands of the requesting party. For example;

    • ✔ Employments Police Checks will prioritise details regarding any convictions against corporate bodies over a Probity check.
    • ✔ Licensing Police Check (public vehicle licensing) will contain more related convictions (e.g. traffic offences that led to a court sentence).

    The Point is that Police Check will address various needs and parties depending on their request. You can request a Police Check depending on what you need it for

    However, a WWCC is a permit issued to people who want to take up roles in the Childcare sector. In some instances in Australia, it is an offence to work with children without having a valid WWCC permit. The WWCC in many other states cover checks for working with

    • ✔ People with special needs,
    • ✔ Mentally impaired,
    • ✔ The Vulnerable

    The Police Check alone cannot allow a candidate to work or volunteer with children; they must have a valid WWCC.

    • 3. The records they contain

    The Police Check does not carry any further assessment or investigation about the person. It only repeats a person's disclosable records from the official database.

    The Police Check may include records like;

    • ✔ The court convictions,
    • ✔ Pending charges,
    • ✔ Non-conviction sentencing,
    • ✔ Good Behaviour Bonds
    • ✔ Court appearances
    • ✔ Other non-spent convictions.

    The Police Check is a list of court actions that are legally issued. A person who has committed other violations but has never been prosecuted in a court will have a "clean record". It also avoids the Spent convictions of an individual and considers them out of scope.

    The WWCC is a more comprehensive and continuous assessment of an individual’s performance with children or the vulnerable. The reports of a WWCC are more revealing than a Police Check, only that it is more specialised.

    The WWCC will include the candidates;

    • ✔ National Criminal history,
    • ✔ Spent convictions.
    • ✔ Pending and Non-conviction charges.

    In addition to specific details such as;

    • ✔ Child respondent or prohibition order (if the candidate is a respondent to such charge)
    • ✔ Disqualification orders, especially where the person is accused under the Child Protection (Offenders Prohibition Orders) Act 2004 or Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003.
    • ✔ Disciplinary and relevant information held by specific professional organisations;


    Child care providers,

    Foster carers,

    Police commissioners.

    Other credible bodies who can provide relevant information include;

    • The Police,
    • The department of corrective service,
    • Courts,
    • Department of Justice and Attorney General.

    • 4. Continuous Supervision and assessment of candidates

    The Police Check is reviewed and updated by the candidate or relevant bodies appl, based on the candidate’s records. However, there is no ongoing review or re-evaluation of the documents. The candidate must update their Police Check within respectable periods or as agreed with the organisation.

    Relevant agencies are constantly monitoring the WWCC. A candidate's licence can be suspended, revoked or cancelled based on their actions.

    • 5. How far back does the Police Check and WWCC go?

    Working with children or in childcare is critical, and the assessment goes as far back as possible. The reports of a WWCC is a combined report of the person's child-related misdemeanours throughout their lifetime. There is hardly a time limit on how far back a WWCC can go.

    A Police Check is a point-in-time check (valid as of the point of issue). And while it also goes as far back as the candidate's history, it omits certain convictions. For example, if the candidate has any spent convictions or special pardons, it will not appear in their Police Check certificate.

    Also, the State laws regarding disclosable court outcomes affect the results of a Police Check.

    • 6. What happens when the person Changes Organisations or Migrates

    The Police Check is a nationwide document/program that releases the disclosable court outcomes of candidates. It is the same across the States and Territories in Australia irrespective of State laws for DCOs or NCOs. It means a person may not have to conduct another Police Check even if they change jobs or States.

    A WWCC is issued for a broad range within a special group or purpose. For example, it is legal to use the WWCC permit for all regulated employment/business categories. It can be used for foster care, child care service, coaching a child sporting team.

    However, every State/Territory has their legislation regarding the WWCC. And these differences mean the WWCC is not inter-usable in different States or Territories.

    • 7. How do they handle Spent Convictions?

    The Australian government put forward a scheme to encourage "second chances" for convicted individuals and expunge discrimination. The scheme allows offences past a certain threshold to become "Spent" or removed from the candidate's records.

    A person who has their offences Spent has certain rights which allow them a;

    • Right of no disclosure,
    • Erasure of offences and records,
    • Such offences are not considered unless necessary through legal actions.

    It is discriminatory to assess a candidate’s Spent conviction unless it is crucial for the role or purpose as required by law.

    While a Police Check precludes the Spent convictions from the certificate, the WWCC will include it if it is related to a child-care role. For example, a spent conviction for minor assault on a child will appear on the candidate's Working with Children Check.

    Who issues a Police Check?

    The Police Check is conducted based on the general records of the individual on the Australian criminal database and other court records— the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) issues it through any local Police service or Accredited agencies.

    However, all records of the Police Check may still be subject to other vetting depending on State laws and the Spent convictions scheme.

    Who issues the Working With Children Check?

    The Working with Children Check is peculiar to every State/Territory and their laws. They are issued by the respective agencies created by the Territories. These agencies are the bodies that ensure continuous and ongoing assessment of the individual.

    Will my WWCC contain a Police Check?

    No, these checks are distinct from each other. Although the Working with children check may carry some information present in the Police Check, it cannot be substituted for a Police Check. You will still need a Police Check conducted separately from the WWCC.

    A Police Check is a general background check that has become a standard. Also, if you are seeking any role in a child-focused organisation, you must further apply for a Working with Children Check in the State you desire.

    Is the Police Check more prioritised than the WWCC?

    No check is more recognized or prestigious than the other. All are background checks with varying uses depending on the role and purpose.

    While the Police Check may be a general and widespread background check, it is not enough for a child-related role. More than prestige, relevance to the role or purpose is considered rather than which background shows the most information.

    The Working with children check is prioritised when it comes to childcare and any other related roles. A person can't work in any of these roles with just a Police Check.

    Employment Police Check

    Most employers include a Police Check as a fundamental internal risk mitigations strategy. It is a requirement to assess the candidate's suitability for the role. For example, a Driving and Logistics company may decide against hiring a driver if he has repeated driving offences.

    However, most employers will still request particular checks like;

    • ✔ Finance/Credit Checks,
    • ✔ Educational background checks,
    • ✔ Traffic records,
    • ✔ And others relevant to the role

    Police Check for Probity checks

    Applicants who may stand in as agents, school board members, trusts, or legal holders of a property may have to get a Police Check for probity. The Police Check must show that they have been of "Good behaviour" and not be convicted of a related violation.

    Police Check for Licensing

    Most Licence applications request the applicant for a Police Check especially;

    • ✔ Public Transport Licences
    • ✔ Mining Licences
    • ✔ Driver Licensing and Accreditation

    There is every chance that you may have to produce both the Police Check for most situations in Australia. And in the case of specialised roles, you will have to produce the relevant check for such purposes.

    Where do I need a WWCC Check?

    The WWCC is a particular check for all those who want to take up child-related roles. It includes those who seek roles in;

    • ✔ Foster Care,
    • ✔ Child Nurse/Health practitioner
    • ✔ Teachers, and Private tutors,
    • ✔ School Bus drivers,
    • ✔ Children Coach,
    • ✔ Nannies and Domestic workers,
    • ✔ Children guides,
    • ✔ School Counsellors,
    • ✔ Volunteers for child role/care,

    How can I obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?


    If you are an individual, you can obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check online via Australian National Character Check’s application and informed consent form. The results are dispatched via email.

    Business and Enterprise Customers

    Business and Enterprise customers are able to sign up to ANCC’s business portal where they can order, manage, track and view candidates’ police check results on their business portal.

    Organisations will undergo a process of approval prior to being granted access to ANCC’s business portal for the purpose of criminal history checks.

    ANCC sends an invite to the applicant to complete their background check online and handles the application and informed consent form. Contact ANCC’s business and enterprise partnerships team today to enquire about setting up a business portal for your organisation.


    Australian Government - Department of Defence (Understanding the difference between the working with children check and a police check) -

    Working with Children Check Victoria (A Police Check is not a Working with Children Check) -

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