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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Pre-Employment Screening Topics National Police Checks Filling out the purpose field for an employment police check

    Filling out the purpose field for an employment police check

    As part of the recruitment process, employers carry out police checks on potential hires to vet their suitability. When applying for this police check, you’ll be required to provide a wide range of information - from your name to valid proof of identity. While filling out the application form, you will also be required to fill in a purpose field. This section alone can make or break the validity of your police checks results.

    In this post, we’ll explore why that is the case. But more importantly, we’ll provide valuable tips to appropriately fill out the purpose field of your employment police check.

    What is the “purpose” field of a police check application?

    In the broadest sense, the purpose field asks you for the reason you’re performing the check. In the context of employment, this reason is usually a short description of your proposed job.

    Common examples include:

    • ✔ Tow truck operator
    • ✔ Nursing in a care home
    • ✔ Primary school teacher
    • ✔ Carer at a child care centre
    • ✔ General manager of a retail store
    • ✔ Coach of a children’s football club
    • ✔ Care assistant in a care home for the disabled
    • ✔ Employment in the financial service industry
    • ✔ Line manager in a chemical production plant
    • ✔ Foreman working for a construction company
    • ✔ Internship placement at a school
    • ✔ Delivery truck driver, and lots more.

    However, asides from the proposed position or tile, the purpose section of the police check application will also request the following:

    • Your proposed place of work (or name of organisation)
    • Location of your proposed workplace (State or Territory)
    • Information on whether you’ll be in contact with vulnerable people.

    Why is the purpose section required?

    Now you might be thinking, “Isn’t a police check supposed to report prior convictions? Why would they need the purpose of the check to find out that information?”.

    Here’s the answer: The contents of your police check will depend primarily on its purpose.

    Only information relevant to the role will be released from the police database when performing a police check (Of course, there are exceptions to this rule that will be explored in the next section).

    For example, if you’re applying to work as a line manager, your traffic infringements may not appear on your police check because it is irrelevant to the role. On the other hand, if you’re applying as a truck delivery driver, previous traffic infringements that led to a court conviction (like excessive speeding and drunk or drug driving) will be present in your police check report.

    Hence, if you fill inaccurate or misleading information under the purpose section of your police check application, your prospective employer will not have access to all the relevant convictions (if any) required to make an informed decision.

    How spent convictions relate to the purpose of your police check

    The Commonwealth Spent Conviction Scheme was implemented to prevent discrimination against job applicants based on their prior convictions in Australia. This scheme allows the exclusion of minor criminal convictions from a person’s police check after ten years has elapsed for adults and five years for minors (the offence is tagged spent).

    However, note that there are exceptions to spent convictions depending on the purpose of your police check. As an example, sexual offences cannot be considered spent. Hence, they will remain in a person’s record for life. So if you’re applying for a role where you’ll be working with vulnerable groups (children and the elderly), your past sexual-related convictions will be included in your police check result, even if the offence occurred decades ago.

    Other purposes for which previous convictions are not considered spent and will be provided in your police check result include:

    • ✔ Working with children and Hospital employment
    • ✔ Gaining access to some government security clearance
    • ✔ Taxi/bus/Uber driver accreditation
    • ✔ Job at an immigration detention centre.
    • ✔ Applying for a firearm permit

    Can a police check be used for more than one purpose?

    The short answer is no. Because the content of your police check result is mainly dependent on the job role, the information obtained from one may be invalid for another.

    Even if the job roles are similar, you still have the timeframe to contend with. Police checks are only valid up to the point they were performed. Hence, even if you’re applying for a similar role in the future, your previous police check may be invalid because a lot might have happened within that time frame.

    A police check may only be used multiple times if the job roles are the same, in the same industry, and at the same time.

    How to fill the purpose of your police check correctly

    In most instances, your proposed job title will suffice as the purpose for your check. But in situations where your title is not clearcut, it is always a good idea to reach out to the hiring manager so they can provide you with the proper description for your police check.

    Purpose-related tips to pass your police check

    Now that you know the importance of accurately stating the purpose of your police check when applying for one, how can you make sure your police check comes out positive?

    1. Make sure your criminal convictions are irrelevant to the role.
    2. Applying for a primary school teaching role is a waste of time if you have a prior conviction of a sexually related offence. Hence, you must assess your criminal record to know what positions you can apply for and which you cannot.

    3. You do not need to disclose spent convictions.
    4. Since spent convictions are not included in your police check, you are under no obligation to reveal them to your prospective employer. If it were relevant to the role in question, it would be included in the police check result.

    Conclusion

    When applying for a police check, you must fill the purpose field correctly. Failure to do so may render the results invalid. That’s why it’s always advisable to seek further clarification from the hiring manager if in doubt.

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