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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Pre-Employment Screening Topics Pre-Employment Screening (General) Working with Children Check and Police Check Requirements Across Australia

    Working with Children Check and Police Check Requirements Across Australia

    Children and other vulnerable groups are the people most susceptible to exploitation and dangers in Australia, and that is why every society must protect them. Protecting the vulnerable and children in Australia includes carrying out certain compulsory checks on the candidates or people that work in these sectors.

    For example, the Working with Children Checks in Australia is amongst the most common and standard Check for all employees or volunteers whose jobs require proximity to children. It is mainly an offence for a person who operates in roles requiring frequent interaction or proximity to children to continue without a Working with children check if the activity is a regulated activity.

    Who are the vulnerable in Australia?

    There is no particular group or association that marks certain people as vulnerable; instead, it is defined by specific legislation and policies in Australia. The social services law and regulation in Australia defines the vulnerable as;

    • Those under the age of 18 years (or a child) according to the law
    • Those above 18 years, but who may not be able to protect themselves against harm due to any; Physical injury, age, illness, trauma or disability, and other reasons.

    Most States and Territories only incorporate the Working with Children Check to cater for all background checks that cover roles in the vulnerable sector, such as;

    • Aged care roles,
    • Vulnerable or people with special needs

    Across Australia, there are slight variations in the laws guiding the Working with Children Check. This makes the WWCC not a transferable background check among States and Territories. It means a candidate who moves to a new State or Territory will likely obtain another working with children check.

    What details does the Working with Children Check release?

    Employers use various background checks in Australia to assess how suitable or "eligible" a candidate is for the role. Working in a sensitive role involves the candidate's highest level of probity and scruples, and most times, the Working with Children Check reveals these.

    Working with children Checks reveal details about a candidate's records relevant to the position they are applying for. For example, a WWCC for a candidate seeking roles in child related healthcare will include;

    • Court convictions relating to child offences
    • Finding of guilts, especially in assault or compromising offences
    • Arrest warrants
    • Court/intervention orders relating to domestic violence
    • Police cautions
    • Spent conviction records relevant to child offences
    • Other records on the Australian criminal database relevant to child offences
    • Sexually related offences
    • Other offences the State/jurisdiction considers relevant to the WWCC.

    The Working with Children Check in Australia is more peculiar but deeper when compared to other background checks like the National Police Check. Usually, the organisation may require the candidate to produce both the Police Check result and their Working with Children Check.

    All States and Territories in Australia incorporate the Working with Children Check with special laws as follows;

    • ✔ Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

    The ACT legislation refers to the Check that ensures the safety of vulnerable people as the Working with Vulnerable People Registration. The WWVP is valid for five years in the ACT and is open to all eligible candidates above the age of 16 who have contact with vulnerable people in their roles.

    The ACT legislation guiding the WWVP in ACT mandates all workers or employees in the following field to obtain the Check;

    • Child protection,
    • Child care,
    • Child accommodation,
    • Addictions,
    • Drivers and transport workers,
    • Vocational and educational trainers
    • Justice workers and other employees
    • Asylum seekers and those who work in mental health.
    • And others as shown on the Access Canberra website.

    It includes all the court convictions, finding of guilt, apprehended violence orders. The registration outcomes mostly decide where and if the person can work in the child-related role.

    If the WWVP result returns positive, the candidate can work in all regulated activities, even those regarding children.

    If it returns positive with restrictions, it can only work in some of the regulated activities.

    If the result returns as positive role-based, the candidate can only work in a role strictly specified by the jurisdiction.

    However, the candidate will be ineligible to work or operate in these roles if the result returns with a Negative Notice.

    Also, the candidate may be required to provide a police check in the ACT in addition to the Working with Vulnerable People Check for some workplaces, however this will depend on the organisation's internal risk mitigation policies.

    Candidates who want to apply for the Working with Vulnerable People registration in the ACT can apply through the following link:

    https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/s/article/working-with-vulnerable-people-wwvp-registration-tab-overview

    • ✔ New South Wales (NSW)

    The Child Protection (Working with Children) Amendment Act 2012 regulates the Working With Children Check (WWCC) in NSW. The NSW jurisdiction requires all volunteers and workers above 18 years to register for the Check to enter a child-related role.

    The WWCC in NSW lasts for five years, after which the holder must register for a renewal. The legislation also advises candidates to register for renewal within three months of getting new criminal records.

    The NSW legislation exempts certain people from registering for the Check under the following conditions;

    • Those under 18 years
    • Who are on a short visit to NSW
    • If they are closely related to the child, they volunteer; at the school or any other place. However, this does not apply for;
    • Overnight camps for kids
    • Participating in a formal mentoring programme
    • When providing healthcare for a child with a disability

    NSW mandates all agencies or organisations that operate in child-related sectors to include the WWCC as a recruitment condition regardless of the scope.

    When assessing the result, the legislation provides specific guidelines for the employer or agency like;

    • The details of the national criminal history, including ongoing charges, spent convictions, sexual offences.
    • Whether the offences were committed in the NSW
    • If the offences included sexual misdemeanours
    • Other matters that would compromise the safety and wellbeing of the child.

    Candidates in NSW can apply for the Working with the Children Check through the Office of the Children's Guardian.

    • ✔ Northern Territory (NT)

    The Ochre Card is the common name for the Working with Children Clearance in the Northern Territory of Australia. The Care and Protection of Children Act 2007 (NT) ensures that all applicants and organisations operate by these guidelines when registering for their Working with Children clearance.

    The Ochre Card in the NT is valid for two years before the candidate must update or renew the application.

    Although the NT mandates the Working with Children Check for all child-related roles, it may offer exemptions to;

    • Short term volunteer workers, including those staying less than 30 days within 12 months but not a resident of the Territory.
    • If you are doing voluntary work where you are a parent of one of the children, and an Ochre Card Holder supervises you.
    • If the role only involves providing entertainment or food for the children.

    The other records that may be considered are the National Police Check in the NT and further reference checks from past employers.

    Candidates who want to apply for the Working with Children Check in the NT can do so through the following link;

    https://nt.gov.au/emergency/community-safety/apply-for-a-working-with-children-clearance

    • ✔ Queensland (QLD)

    The Blue Card is the common name for the Working with Children Check in Queensland, and it is only valid for three years in possession of the candidate. The Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 (Qld) regulates the registration and conditions for the WWCC in Queensland.

    The WWCC is open to all workers or volunteers over 18 years and volunteers for more than seven days in a calendar year. The Act offers special exemptions to people;

    • Under the age of 18, especially if a "Blue Card" holder supervises them,
    • Those under 18 but acting in a team,
    • Students/interns under supervision.

    The WWCC is recommended for all who work in childcare services and facilities, including and not limited to;

    • Private teaching
    • Coaching
    • Churches
    • Healthcare and facilities
    • Clubs and association
    • Coaching or Tutoring

    The candidate may also need to provide the National Police Check in QLD as a requirement for the recruitments however this will depend on the employer’s internal risk mitigation policies.

    The organisation may assess the candidate based on;

    • Information from a police investigation
    • Disciplinary information
    • Respondents to application for child protection

    Candidates can obtain their Blue Card in QLD through the online application portal via the following link: https://www.qld.gov.au/law/laws-regulated-industries-and-accountability/queensland-laws-and-regulations/regulated-industries-and-licensing/blue-card-services

    • ✔ South Australia (SA)

    The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (SA) regulates the Working with Children Checks in SA. The certificate lasts for five years before the holder must renew or update it. Other legislation considered includes;

    By the Act, all workers and volunteers must get a working with children check in South Australia if they are to apply for any of the following roles;

    • Roles that involve child-related Work
    • Operating in a business or agency where the employee works with children
    • If they are to reside on prescribed premises with children

    There may be exemptions from the Working with Children Check if the candidate is;

    • Less than 14 years of age,
    • If they only work in such roles for seven or fewer days in a year
    • If they already hold a WWCC from another jurisdiction for a related child work, the program does not exceed ten days.

    S.A. lists it a serious offence for an employee to work in a child-related role without a WWCC conducted in the last five years. When assessing the candidate for a child-related position, employers consider;

    • The criminal history of the person, including those under the Spent conviction scheme
    • Court intervention orders
    • Information provided by the applicant, including declarations.

    Applicants in SA can use the following link to obtain a Working with Children Check via the Department of Human Services in SA: https://screening.sa.gov.au/types-of-check/working-with-children-check

    • ✔ Tasmania

    The Registration to Work with Vulnerable People Act (2013) is vital legislation for safety for children in Tasmania. The legislation prescribes and mandates the Working With Vulnerable People Check for all candidates with related functions or roles.

    All candidates above 16 years who have more than "incidental contact/interaction" with children are required to take the Working with Vulnerable People Check in Tasmania. The Working With Vulnerable People check-in Tasmania is valid for only five years, after which the candidate must renew the result.

    The Working with Vulnerable People check includes (and is not limited to) all candidates whose roles include;

    • Child education, whether in govt or non-govt related roles
    • Work as a State Library,
    • Vocational educational
    • Child accommodation
    • Child disability
    • And other roles considered in the Act

    The Working with Vulnerable People Check in Tasmania includes the details about the candidate’s;

    • Spent convictions
    • Pending charges
    • Non-conviction charges
    • Criminal offences and convictions
    • And other matters the jurisdiction considers relevant to the Check.

    Candidates can complete an online application for Working with Vulnerable People registration in Tasmania via the following link: https://www.cbos.tas.gov.au/topics/licensing-and-registration/work-with-vulnerable-people/applications/apply

    • ✔ Victoria (Vic)

    The Worker Screening Act 2020 (Vic) covers all regulations regarding the Working With Children Check within Victoria. The Check lasts for five years for all applicants in Victoria who are 20 years and above employed in a child-related role.

    The Act mandates all adults "working" with children (less than 18 years) regardless of the capacity to apply for the WWCC in Australia. It includes roles where;

    • The Work involves direct contact with children,
    • The contact is much more than “occasional."
    • They are not exempted from any legislation to apply for the WWCC

    The Child Employment Act 2003 (Vic) further mandates supervisors of children to hold a WWCC even if they are under 18 years of age.

    The only group of people exempted from holding the WWCC in Victoria in a child-related role include;

    • Volunteers with a ward or their child participating in the same activity
    • Registered teachers, Victoria Police officers, Federal Police officers and visiting workers who already hold a check from other territories

    The details considered in a WWCC includes;

    • The National Police Record Check
    • Review of relevant findings
    • Previous exclusion or bans from a child-related role
    • Prior exclusions from child-related roles by a different State or Territory.

    When applying for any child/vulnerable related role in Victoria, a National Police Check may also be part of the requirement. Candidates can apply online for the WWCC in Victoria via the following link: https://www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au

    • ✔ Western Australia (WA)

    The Working With Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 (WA) caters to the policies and State laws regarding working with children in WA. A prospective applicant or volunteer must apply for a WWC Check before being legally permitted to undertake a child related role in WA.

    The Act mandates organisations and other providers in such sectors to comply with all safety laws and policies relating to children. All Successful applications for the WWCC come with a card that certifies the holder to participate in the role they apply for.

    However, the WWCC in WA only lasts for three years, and the candidate must renew the results if they wish to continue in the role/related positions.

    Applicants can apply for a Working with Children Check in WA through the following link: https://workingwithchildren.wa.gov.au/about.

    How can I obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

    Individuals

    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.

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