WWCC

All members of the Host family who are over the age of 18 years are required to have WWCC card.

Each state has their own requirement. Please arrange your WWCC card when you are making your application. We cannot provide you with a student until this information has been received.

Police check and child safety screening programs

There are two types of screening programs operating in Australia. Some states have employer-driven systems (NSW and SA ) that make it mandatory for employers in relevant fields to carry out background checks on prospective employees or volunteers. These systems provide "point-in-time" background checks and individuals must undergo screening each time they enter into a child-related position.

The other type of screening program in operation offers certification to engage in child-related work to individuals (Qld, Vic., WA and the NT). These certifications are valid for a period of time (e.g., 3 years in WA) and provide for ongoing monitoring of an individual's suitability for child-related work. This means that if a relevant criminal offence is committed during the validity of the check, or if the individual is subject to relevant work-related disciplinary procedures, the administering authority may inform employers of the offence, and alter or withdraw an individual's entitlement to work with children. Individuals can also carry their certification between positions and do not have to undergo repeated screening while their Working With Children Check is valid. Table 1 outlines the relevant legislation in each state and territory and explains the type of system in place in each.

Table 1. Relevant legislation and state and territory screening programs

 

Jurisdiction

Act

Type of program

SA

Children's Protection Act 1993 (SA)

The South Australian system is an employer driven "point-in-time" system requiring employers and responsible authorities to obtain criminal history checks for those engaging in child-related occupations/volunteering.

Professional registration and child safety policy development

In addition to child-related employment legislation (where it exists), all states and territories have legislation that requires people who wish to register in certain occupations (e.g., teachers, doctors or childcare workers) to be screened for criminal offences. This means that even in jurisdictions where child-related employment legislation does not exist there are still requirements for adults working in certain occupations to undergo screening (e.g., the Victorian Institute of Teaching Act 2001 [Vic.]; the Medical Practitioners Registration Act 2001 [Qld]; the Child Care Act 2001 [Tas.]). Due to the screening already being part of the registration requirements, certain persons are exempt from Working With Children Check requirements (e.g., in Victoria, persons registered under the Victorian Institute of Teaching Act 2001 are exempt from the Working With Children Check).

Organisations may also have developed their own policies that require employees and volunteers to undergo criminal record checks. These policies may exist as a substitute for relevant legislation (i.e., in a jurisdiction where there is no legislation) or in addition to a relevant Act. State and territory police provide criminal history checks to individuals and organisations wishing to obtain Police Checks for employment, voluntary work and occupation-related licensing or registration purposes.

The difference between a Police Check and a Working With Children Check

Police Checks identify and release relevant criminal history information relating to convictions, findings of guilt or pending court proceedings. However, due to spent conviction/non-disclosure legislation and information release policies, there are limitations on the information a Police Check can provide (e.g., the Spent Convictions Scheme stipulates that prior convictions are not to be disclosed where 10 years have passed from the date of the conviction).

As the object of a Working With Children Check is to make an assessment of the level of risk an individual poses to children's safety, Working With Children Checks are more extensive, but also more targeted than Police Checks. For example, Working With Children Checks draw together information from various sources, but may include a primary focus on certain types of offences (e.g., sexual offences, offences related to the harm or mistreatment of a child). In general, Working With Children Checks give consideration to:

  convictions - whether or not they are considered spent or were committed by a juvenile;

  apprehended violence orders and other orders, prohibitions or reporting obligations;

  charges (i.e., where a conviction has not been recorded because, for example, a proceeding has not been heard or finalised by a court, or where charges have been dismissed or withdrawn);

  any relevant allegations or police investigations involving the individual; and

  relevant employment proceedings and disciplinary information from professional organisations (e.g., organisations associated with teachers, childcare service providers, foster carers, and health practitioners).

Across the five jurisdictions that currently carry out Working With Children Checks (NSW, NT, Qld, Vic. and WA) there are differences in what information is considered and what sources of information are drawn upon. Table 2 provides a comparison of the information considered in Working With Children Checks across these jurisdictions.

Table 2. Information considered in Working With Children Checks

 

Who must undergo pre-employment child safety screening?

In all jurisdictions that have child-related employment pre-screening legislation, it is mandatory for certain individuals engaged in occupations such as education and childcare, child protection, child and family welfare, health, entertainment and recreation, and religious instruction to meet screening requirements. There are differences across the states and territories in who is required to undergo screening, and how different occupations are identified. Table 3 provides an outline of the settings in which pre-employment screening is required in each jurisdiction.

Table 3. Child-related settings subject to screening regulations

Jurisdiction

Types of child-related settings subject to regulation

SA

Employers and responsible authorities are required to obtain criminal history checks for employees, volunteers, agents, contractors or subcontractors who have regular contact with children or work in close proximity to children on a regular basis; people supervising or managing persons in positions requiring or involving regular contact or proximity to children; persons with access to records relating to children; or persons engaged in any other function prescribed by regulation. The Act does not stipulate an age at which criminal history checks are to be obtained. Practice guidelines recommend that all persons (including young people under 18 years of age) be checked.

Requirements in Australian states and territories

South Australia

The responsibility of government and non-government organisations who come into regular contact with children to obtain Police Record Checks for employees, volunteers, agents, contractors and sub-contractors is embedded in the Children's Protection Act 1993 (SA). The Act also requires that organisations have a policy framework relating to child-safety.

Further information is available at the South Australian Department for Families and Communities (visit: www.dfc.sa.gov.au/pub/Default.aspx?tabid=238).

Police Check application forms can be obtained from the South Australian Police (visit: www.sapolice.sa.gov.au/sapol/home.jsp).