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  • How do I get a police check in Melbourne?

    Are you seeking employment in Melbourne? Or are you seeking admission into a professional body? There's probably a strong chance a background check is part of the hiring/admission process. Background checks are essential because they provide insight into an applicant's suitability.

    A police check is an essential aspect of a background check. It specifically provides information on an applicant's criminal past, which helps employers make better informed hiring decisions.

    Over the years, many Melbourne employers have adopted police checks into their background check process. Although police checks are not foolproof, their benefits are undeniable.

    Hence, as a savvy applicant, obtaining a police check on yourself can help you assess your criminal past and how it can affect your application for your desired role. This post explores all you need to know about getting a police check in Melbourne.

    But first, what is a police check?

    A police check is a document that shows an individual's Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCOs) and pending charges as derived from the databases of all Australian police jurisdictions. Listed offences on police checks in Melbourne are usually in line with the Spent Convictions Scheme in Victoria (more information on that later).

    Options to obtain a police check in Melbourne.

    The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) is responsible for protecting Australians from criminal threats by coordinating a strategic response. Hence, one of their critical functions is providing criminal history checks on applicants. There are three means to obtain a police check in Melbourne. They include:

    ✔ ACIC-accredited agencies

    ACIC-accredited bodies like Australian National Character Check (ANCC) are Melbourne's primary providers of nationally coordinated criminal history checks. These agencies have access to national databases to obtain an applicant's criminal history.

    From filling out the application form to making payments, applications through ACIC-accredited agencies are usually entirely online. That's why the process is safe, reliable and fast - and invariably became the best option for obtaining police checks.

    ✔ Victorian Police Force

    The Victorian Police Force provides police checks to Victorians who need one for employment, occupation-related licensing, voluntary work, or registration purposes.

    Here are the steps for applying for a national police check through Victorian Police:

    1. Print out the Consent to Check and Release National Police Application Form from the Victorian police website and fill it appropriately.
    2. Sign and date the application in the presence of an approved certifier. A certifier is also the person that will verify your proof of identity documents. (You can get more information on accepted certifiers on the Victorian Police's website)
    3. Get dated signatures of your certifier on each copy of your proof of identity documents.
    4. Make the necessary payment online or via an attached cheque.
    5. Attach all the paperwork and payment proof and mail your application to the following address:
    6. Public Enquiry Service
      Victoria Police
      GPO Box 919
      Melbourne Vic 3001

    ✔ Post Office

    ACIC also accredits Australia Post for providing police checks. Hence, you can also apply for a national police certificate by visiting Australia Post. You'll need four identification documents and a completed application form to apply at the Post Office.

    You must get these four ID documents from three categories for a police check

    Category 1: Examples include Australian birth certificate, Australian passport, Australian citizenship certificate, and valid Australian Visa.

    Category 2: Examples include Driver's licence, foreign passport (with current Australian Visa), firearms photo ID licence.

    Category 3: Medicare Card, WWCC photo ID card, government-issued health care card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Australian Tertiary student photo ID card, and financial institution-issued debit or credit card.

    Application via Australia Post is fast, secure, convenient, and trusted.

    Essential Information on Police Check application in Melbourne

    ✔ How much does a police check cost in Melbourne?

    Police check cost is typically dependent on factors like the agency/body carrying out the check and the type of check. For instance, the base cost of a Nationally Coordinate Criminal History Check in Victoria with ANCC is $48.90. The check is valid for employment, licensing and probity purposes.

    On the other hand, the fee for National Police Checks through the Victorian Police Force is $49.60 per individual.

    Australia Post charges $52 for a digital police check, $30 for a digital volunteer check, and an extra $10 for a hard copy of your certificate.

    ✔ How long does it take to get my police check results?

    Since the process is entirely online, most police applications through ACIC accredited agencies like ANCC take 24 hours days to process (70% of cases) with 30 percent taking longer than 10 days. Some applications (30% of them) might be sent for manual reviewing, extending the processing time to about three weeks.

    When obtaining your police check through the Victorian Police force, you should allow at least ten days for your Police Check to be issued.

    With Australia Post, most people receive their National Police Check within a few hours after their provided ID is accepted. However, an application flagged for manual processing can take 10+ business days to process.

    ✔ How long is a Police Check in Melbourne valid?

    A police check is a point-in-time check, meaning that it only provides information on an applicant's criminal history until the check is conducted. Hence, it is up to the requesting party to determine the validity period for a police check based on their internal risk mitigation strategies. Most Victorian organisations do not accept police checks older than three months as a general guide. That's why it's essential to verify with the requesting party so you can know if your current police certificate is valid for them to accept.

    ✔ Which institutions request Police Checks in Melbourne and Why?

    Police checks help determine an applicant's suitability for a role/licence based on their criminal past. Institutions that need to protect the safety of their employees, members, clients, and the general public usually request police checks before admission. Common examples include:

    1. Employment
    2. Most jobs require a police check before onboarding commences. Police checks help them ensure workplace safety and reduce workplace theft, among many other bodies.

    3. Licences
    4. Licences related to occupations and firearms require police checks to ensure that only worthy applicants obtain such permits.

    5. Probity
    6. A position of trust is any position that requires its holder to enjoy the trust of those who chose/elected the holder. Since trust is involved, it's self-evident why such jobs require a police check.

    Critical Information on Police Check in Melbourne

    Melbourne is in the State of Victoria. Consequently, police checks are performed per Victorian laws.

    Victoria's Spent Convictions Scheme the information released on police checks. Hence, let's take a deeper look into this subject.

    Spent Convictions Scheme in Victoria

    The Spent Convictions Scheme controls how a person's criminal history is disclosed. The scheme was enacted to disclose relevant criminal information to enable the requesting party to make informed decisions while simultaneously giving those with a criminal past a fresh start.

    Spent convictions do not appear on your police record. You also do not have to tell anyone about them, except in rare instances.

    ✔ What convictions are eligible to be spent?

    The three ways convictions can be spent include:

    1. Automatically spent convictions

    From 1 December 2021, offences committed while under 15 will be automatically deemed spent. Moreover, court orders without conviction (even for severe violence and sexual related offences) will be spent.

    1. Automatically spent after some time.

    Convictions that were not serious sexual or violence-related offences can be automatically considered spent after a crime-free period. The same is true of crimes with imprisonment or detention of fewer than 30 months. This time free period is ten years for adults and five years for children and young people.

    1. Spent after application to the Magistrates Court

    Serious sexual offences, violence-related offences, and offences - with a court sentence of more than 30 months - can be spent in rare circumstances by applying to the Magistrates' Court.

    ✔ Exemptions for disclosing spent convictions

    Generally speaking, spent convictions do not appear in Police Checks. But in certain instances, courts, police, and approved agencies have the exemptions from obtaining and using disclosed spent convictions for specified purposes.

    Such purposes may include:

    1. Seeking employment with Victoria Police
    2. Licensing such as a securing firearm licence
    3. Screening as a part of Working with Children Checks
    4. For use as part of a legal case
    5. For investigation by law enforcement
    6. To a lawyer for legal advice

    ✔ Types of convictions that can never be spent.

    You can never ‘spend’ certain conventions. They include but are not limited to:

    1. Sexual-related offences

    Because sexual offenders are considered a risk to society, particularly to vulnerable groups like children and the elderly, sexual related offences will always appear on police checks.

    1. Serious violence offence

    You can never spend severe offences like murder and manslaughter.

    1. Convictions against corporate organisations and institutions

    Previous serious offences against organisations help new employers make informed decisions about an applicant. Hence, serious crimes such as massive fraud do not become spent.

    1. Convictions stated by regulations

    Particular offences defined by regulations such as aggravated assaults, child abuse, and terrorism are considered too severe. Hence, they cannot be expunged from the offender's records.

    1. Convictions with a penalty term of more than 30 months

    Offences that attract a prison term of more than 30 months cannot be spent.

    What shows up on a Police check?

    Now that you understand more about Victoria's Spent Convictions Scheme, it's time to delve into what to expect in your police check result.

    When you receive your police check result in Melbourne, it contains what is known as Disclosable Court Outcomes. Disclosable Court Outcomes are convictions deemed releasable by the State per the Spent Convictions Scheme Victoria. These convictions include:

    ✔ Court Convictions

    Regardless of the severity or surrounding circumstances of an offence, all court convictions against an individual will show up in their criminal history. The police check result will also contain the prison term if there is any.

    ✔ Pending charges

    Pending criminal charges in Victoria's court may show up as a DCO in your police check. In most instances, this is decided by the relevance of such a record to the ongoing check.

    ✔ Good Behaviour Bond

    A good behaviour bond is an order from the court that an individual maintains 'good behaviour for a defined period, with or without other conditions. This bond allows offenders to avoid jail time, provided they remain on best behaviour when released into the community.

    A Good Behaviour Bond typically appears on a police check until the bond period expires. The police check certificate also includes the reason and conditions for the bond.

    ✔ Other Unspent convictions

    Offences that haven't been spent will also appear on your police check. Moreover, violations that can never be spent like murder, will show up on your police check certificate in Melbourne.

    Example of Disclosable Court Outcomes

    DCOs may include convictions for:

    • ✔ Theft and fraud-related offences
    • ✔ Armed robbery and aggravated offences
    • ✔ Sexually related offences
    • ✔ Traffic offences resolved in a court, like DUI, DWI, drink-driving, overspeeding charges, etc.
    • ✔ Murder/manslaughter offences
    • ✔ Resisting arrests
    • ✔ Treason
    • ✔ Offences against corporate bodies
    • ✔ Affray offences
    • ✔ Money laundering
    • ✔ Breach of restriction order
    • ✔ Breach of apprehended violence

    Wrap Up

    Police checks are becoming ever more popular in Melbourne for assessing a person's character. You can obtain these checks through three primary means: ACIC-accredited agencies (for nationally coordinated criminal history checks), Victoria Police Force, and Australia Post. Police checks typically contain disclosable court outcomes defined according to Victoria's Spent Convictions Scheme.

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