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About Australian police checks

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A person applying for a job may be required to present their Australian Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check certificate.

When companies/organizations screen for qualified persons on a job offer, it is quite common that they request the applicant's police check. If such a job involves "interactions" with people considered as "vulnerable" or "special needs" populations, like children, the aged, and those with disabilities, then it becomes imperative.

How to get a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check in Australia

If you are requested to present your police check, there are numerous ways you could obtain it. You can obtain your check applying via the;

  • Australian Federal Police (AFP)
  • Your local Australian police station
  • An accredited agency like Australian National Character Check™
Applying through a local police station may be time consuming. The application is generally paper-based, and an applicant may travel to the issuing office to complete their application.

What is the fastest way to get a police check in Australia?

Applying through a police station can take anywhere between 7 and 21 days to get your police check. The process is generally paper based and results get posted to a physical address. However, with an agency like Australian National Character Check, you will not only get your police check certificate emailed electronically back to you as soon as your results get released, the online application process can be completed and submitted in as little as 12 minutes.

When an individual begins the application for the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check, they are directed to fill out an online application form. Completing and submitting our comprehensive online forms fulfils any other form of bureaucracies or paper-work, and removes the need for in-person submission.

An applicant who has successfully registered for their police check would in most cases have it emailed to them within 24-48 hours and can choose to have the hardcopy delivered by post to them. In some instances the process may take up to 15+ days if the applicant gets referred for manual processing by Australian police agencies. Manual processing generally occurs for persons that have a common name, or a name that is similar to a person of interest on the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Checking database.

Can I get a Free police check?

Releasing police check results is a statutory function of Australian police agencies and there is a fee associated with each police check request. Therefore, it is not possible to obtain a free police check in Australia. Applicants can obtain an Australian police check certificate with a fee of $48.90 using the online police check application form.

Some organisations have arrangements in place where they cover the cost of the police check for their employees or contractors. Other organisations encourage the employee to bear the cost and fulfil the normal process of obtaining a nationally coordinated criminal history check.

Applicants should check with their employer or the requesting organisation about whether or not they will be reimbursed for the cost of the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

Identification document (ID) requirements for a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Checks Online in Australia

The Australian Federal Government made major changes to ID requirements for police checks since July 2018 as part of the National Identity Security Strategy. These changes replaced the '100 points' ID system that was traditionally in place.

Since July 2018, applicants must provide four identification documents and a biometric link to obtain a police check. These include:

  • 1 x Commencement ID
  • 1 x Primary ID
  • 2 x Secondary ID's
  • A biometric link between the applicant and their ID documents. A self-photo "selfie" demonstrating liveness as instructed on our website is a biometric link.
A list of acceptable identification documents for a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check can be found using this link: List of Acceptable Documents for National Police Checks Online

All applicants must meet the minimum identity requirements regardless of which police check provider they use.

Should an applicant find out that they do not meet minimum identification document requirements, they should approach their local government shopfront to get identification documents updated.

This means that you may need to obtain new documents, or have your existing documents changed to reflect your name correctly if they currently do not.

Can it take longer than 24 hours to get my police check result?

Online police checks are usually delivered to an applicant within 24 hours upon completion of the application. 70 percent of police checks are returned to applicants within 24 hours. 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. However, an applicant's data or application can be flagged for "manual review" by Australian police agencies. Manual review occurs when some or all data on an application matches or resembles records on the police criminal database.

A manual review may not be equal to conviction or guilt to an offence. Many reasons can lead to the "flagging" of an application for manual review.

  • Common/Shared data, like Name; having common names like William, John, Brian might lead to a “potential match" in the search algorithm.
  • If you have also changed addresses frequently over a short period could also draw attention to your application.
  • Previous convictions on traffic offences (or other offences) can lead to your application being flagged for verification.
Unfortunately, Australian National Character Check cannot predict or foretell which application/applicant will be flagged for further perusal. Manual reviews are strictly on the prerogative of the relevant Australian police agency issuing the police check.

If an application is flagged for "manual review" the application can be delayed for anywhere up to 15+ business days. Also, the process of a "manual review" cannot be interfered with, sped up or influenced, until the process is completed.

How long is a police check certificate valid for?

Police checks are only requested by the company/organisation seeking it as a means of reference. Therefore, the period of validity for the police check is at the sole discretion of the organisation that requests it. It mostly depends on their internal risk mitigation strategy.

A police check is a point in time check; it is valid up until the date of issue. Though, most Australian organisations will not accept police checks older than 3 months.

Also, police checks are non-transferable between organisations. This is because Australian police agencies release criminal offences that are relevant to the proposed position, occupation or entitlement that is indicated on the police check application form.

You will be notified by the requesting authority when they want an updated police check. If you commit an offense or have a conviction within the period before an updated certificate, you should apply for an updated police check certificate.

What are Australian Federal Police (AFP) police checks used for?

Australian Federal Police (AFP) police checks are used for the following purposes:

  • Residents of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Jervis Bay Territory and external Commonwealth territories
  • People seeking employment with the Commonwealth Government
  • People requiring a check under Commonwealth legislation
  • Australian immigration purposes
  • Where the applicant resides overseas
  • Overseas employment
  • Overseas adoption
  • Visa applications for overseas travel.
All other applicants should apply for a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check via their local police department or via an accredited agency like Australian National Character Check.

What do police check results contain?

Police checks is a record containing all the disclosable court outcomes (DCOs) of an individual including but not limited to:

  • Charges for offences in corporate organisations
  • Sexually related offences
  • Traffic charges for which an individual is convicted
  • Sentences and Convictions
  • Pending court charges and offences
Police checks help decision makers reach better decisions on the employability of an individual. It is against the law to discriminate against an individual because of their criminal history, especially where such convictions do not jeopardise the job.
  • Companies and organisations need to protect the interests and integrity of their brand, which is reflected through their employment policy and staff.
  • Brands and Organisations also have a duty to protect the safety of their customers, properties, interests and the general work environments through their employment policies.
  • Organisations that handle the care of the aged/vulnerable are mandated by the government, through the Aged Care Act of 1997 to request or carry out Aged Care police checks on workers.

Police checks may be required for;

  • Employment in areas where the individuals will work in proximity/direct service to vulnerable groups.
  • Employment in sensitive job roles or where the individual is given a job role that entails a position of trust.
  • Obtaining licenses and accreditations for occupations or registrations. For example as real estate agents, nurses, public vehicle drivers, firearms licenses and the rest.
  • When applying for commonwealth related jobs .
  • For immigration purposes (must be applied via the Australian Federal Police).
  • When applying for visas or employment overseas (must be applied via the Australian Federal Police).
  • For adoption purposes (must be applied via the Australian Federal Police).

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About ANCC

ANCC® enables individuals and approved legal entities to apply for a nationally coordinated criminal history check, which is commonly referred to as a national police check. The nationally coordinated criminal history check is valid all over Australia and can be used when applying for Employment, Probity, Licencing, or Commonwealth check purposes. Get discount police checks online. We beat prices!

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Book in a free consultation with us to discuss your organisation's employment background check needs, or to get an overview of the ANCC Business Portal.