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Mining Industry Police Checks in Australia

Start a new Police Check (Individual Portal)
Sign up for Business Portal (Employers & HR)

Australian National Character Check (ANCC) provides nationally coordinated criminal history checks to mining workers (via the individual portal) and mining companies (via the business portal).

Thanks to Australia’s unprecedented access to critical raw materials, minerals, and metals, today's economy and technological advances are possible. Think about this: as a semiconductor, silicon is used to make transistors, which serve as the backbone of electronics, from iPhones to radios. We have miners to thank for this, among many other minerals they provide in commercially profitable quantities.

The mining profession is rife with several dangers. Miners work in uninhabited places, often in arid or mountainous regions, which may be up to 2km below ground. Unsurprisingly, this profession is accident-ridden. In the past, fatal accidents were too common in Australia's mining industry. But with several regulations like the Work Health and Safety (Mines) Regulation 2014, the sector has improved health and safety.

Moreover, proactive mining employers have begun to pay greater attention to their hiring process. The reasoning: getting the right people for the job will go a long way in showing their unwavering commitment to the well-being of workers and the local communities they operate. Police checks have become an essential tool for employers to screen potential new hires that may pose significant risks. Little wonder police checks have seen greater adoption over the last decade.

This article explores all you need to know about police checks for mining jobs in Australia, from why it is crucial to how you can get one.

Page Contents

What is a police check?

A nationally coordinated criminal history check (also referred to as a police check), reveals an individual's record of their Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCOs). These checks are managed by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC). The ACIC has access to police databases across Australia, which draw out information about a person's criminal record when a check is carried out. Once the check is complete, the results are printed on a police check certificate. Employers go through this certificate to see an applicant's criminal record before making a hiring decision.

What shows up on a police check?

As noted earlier, Disclosable court outcomes show up on a police check. DCOs are police information that can be released. They typically include information on court convictions (including sentencing and penalties), finding of guilt with no convictions, charges, and even traffic offences settled in the court. This information is released in line with the Spent Convictions Scheme.

Police check in the mining industry

The mining industry is massive, employing over 256,000 highly skilled workers across Australia. Different companies have different policies when it comes to hiring. While a few do not require police checks for applicants, most do. Among those that do, most only require these checks for specific positions.

Mining jobs requiring police checks typically involve supervising, operating dangerous equipment, and driving trucks and heavy vehicles. Some examples include:

Let's explore why police checks may be handy for these roles.
✓ Ensuring workplace safety
Every responsible mining company must ensure the well-being of their workers. Since miners work in stressful conditions (like underground operators), miners mustn't have a violent temperament since that poses a significant safety risk to co-workers. With a police check, employers can see violent-related offences of an applicant and gauge their suitability for the role.

✓ Eliminating sexual harassment
While the mining industry is male-dominated, more females have entered the sector. Hence, there's a greater need to ensure workers are not sexually embarrassed by their bosses and co-workers, from the office and even in the field. Past sexual offences typically show up in a police check. This allows employers to identify applicants who may misbehave in their position. That way, they can screen out such applicants.

✓ Protecting clients
The mining industry is massively linked with other industries. Hence, mining workers have to interact with potential clients and experts in different industries. Mining employers must ensure that their employees represent them accordingly to avoid tarnishing their reputation with clients. Since police checks provide an insight into an applicant's past, employers can weed out applicants with a persistent history of violence and fraud, as they pose a severe risk to clients.

✓ Avoiding vehicle-related accidents
Vehicles are a crucial part of the mining industry - from the operation of heavy machinery and cranes to the transportation of raw materials on huge trucks. Consequently, machine operators and drivers must uphold safety.
A police check also reveals serious traffic offences. Hence, an applicant with a series of traffic offences will make for a terrible driver in the industry. Armed with the traffic offences history of applicants, mining employers can make better decisions.

✓ Prevent theft
Australia's mining industry is worth over $303 billion, making it the largest economic contributor. Unscrupulous managers and employees can take advantage of this massive money flying around for fraud. Standard fraudulent practices include inflating operational costs, diverting raw materials, and more. To limit their exposure to financial risks, employers try to avoid applicants with prior history of fraud-related offences. Since a police check reveals such information, it can be used to assess an applicant's integrity approximately.

✓ Protect brand reputation
Over the past decade, the mining industry has been under the national spotlight regarding safety and legitimacy. Major work-related accidents will make national news, which will mar the company's reputation. Even worse, negligence of duty can result in legal liabilities and hefty fines. Police checks help provide insight into the kind of employees hired - and, together with other measures, will hopefully prevent problems that tarnish the company's image.

✓ Licensing
In WA, you must be licensed by the Department of Mines, Industry, Regulation and Safety to work in several roles in the mining industry. A police check is crucial when applying for such an occupational licence. Although police checks are only mandatory for mining industry workers in Western Australia, having one can open up more opportunities for you across the country.

How to get a Police check

Getting a police check for a mining job is similar to getting it in other professions. As noted earlier, the ACIC is responsible for conducting police checks. However, they partner with accredited agencies, and the Australian Police Forces make police checks accessible to Australians seeking one. Let's briefly explore how you can get police checks from each category:

✓ ACIC-accredited agencies
ACIC-accredited agencies like Australian National Character Check (ANCC) have access to ACIC's database to conduct police checks on applicants. The process typically involves providing vital information like name, address, gender, and date of birth and uploading identification documents online. This data is then run through the database to extract criminal history (if any), which is summarised in your police check certificate.
70 percent of police checks are returned to applicants within 24 hours. Results are automatically emailed on the same day they are received. Approximately 30 percent of checks may be referred to one or more police agencies and can take longer than 10 business days to be returned, due to the manual nature of this process.

✓ Australian Police Force
Most police stations across all Australian jurisdictions can also perform police checks. Depending on your preference, you can make an online or manual application by post. You also need to submit your personal information and upload the required identification documents to process your police check.

Will a criminal record affect my mining career?

It's no news that having a criminal history is usually a difficult barrier to overcome when seeking particular job roles. To take it to the extreme, that's why former prison inmates find it difficult to get a new job when they get out of jail. This makes getting a fresh start difficult.

So what if you've had some indiscretions in your youth, or you're a recent offender? That will undoubtedly affect your police check. However, will that affect your employment chances in the mining industry? The answer isn't black-and-white. But in general, the law requires employers only to consider past offences related to the role in question. Therefore, your past traffic offences may have little bearing if you're looking to work as a desk assistant in a mining company.

However, other factors determine how your criminal record may affect a mining career. They include:

✓ The severity of the offence
Certain offences have a severe negative connotation and will cause serious problems irrespective of the role you're applying for. Common examples include murder, manslaughter, rape, theft, assault, fraud, severe drug offences, and serious driving-related charges (for driving-relative roles).
Companies have different policies when accepting applicants with such a criminal history, mainly if the offence is recent. Therefore, you must avoid serious crimes that can harm your future job prospects.

✓ When the criminal record was earned
Offences committed more recently have more impact than those committed long ago. For example, an employer might overlook theft charges that occurred nine years ago, mainly if you've held other jobs since then and proved your integrity. On the other hand, if you were charged for serious theft offences last month, not many employers would want to incur the risk of hiring you.

Understanding the Spent Convictions Scheme

The Spent Convictions Scheme provides a guideline for disclosing older offences after a period when the person doesn't commit further crimes. This waiting period varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. But it is usually ten years for adults and five years for juveniles.

Once an offence is spent, it is automatically removed from the police check result. While such crimes will still be in your police record, employers will no longer have access to it via a police check. However, the Spent Convictions Scheme only applies to minor offences or offences for which the imprisonment term was less than 30 months.

Severe offences like murder and sexual assault are not covered by the Spent Convictions Scheme and will forever show up in your record. This is because of the need to protect vulnerable groups like children and the elderly from potentially dangerous individuals. Mining employers can expose themselves to legal liabilities by employing someone with a severe criminal past.

Should I tell recruiters/employers about my criminal history?

For starters, you do not tell employers about criminal offences that do not appear on your police check certificate.

On the other hand, it is best to be up-front and honest about offences that appear on your police check certificate. This allows you to explain the crime's circumstances and your actions to become a better person. The employer can then make an informed decision, whether it favours you.

Remember, withholding information about your criminal past will only affect your employment chances. Uncovering such information in the future may lead to immediate termination even if you slip through the cracks now.

Note that some specific roles may require access to your spent convictions. If that is the case, the employer must be approved to access such information.

Wrap Up

The mining industry is pivotal in today's economy and is projected even to become more critical. Employers in the mining industry must improve the quality of their hires to meet the growing demand.

Police checks serve as a valuable way for employers to assess the character of potential mining workers. These checks help ensure workplace safety, prevent theft, and improve brand reputation. While the ACIC is responsible for police checks, they collaborate with ACIC-accredited agencies and the Australian Police to make the police checking service accessible. If you're looking to work in the mining industry, analysing your police check result can help set realistic expectations and improve your hiring chances.