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

Vic.

Working With Children Act 2005 (Vic.)

Individuals are required to apply for a Working With Children Check. Valid for five years, the Check entitles individuals to engage 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

Jurisdiction

Information considered

 

 

 

 

VIC

The Working With Children Check is comprised of:

  a National Police Check - offences with most significance include serious sexual offences; serious violent offences; serious drug related offences, offences against the Working With Children Act 2005 (Vic.) itself;

  a review of relevant findings from prescribed professional disciplinary bodies (at present only the Victorian Institute of Teaching);

  information sought from other bodies such as courts, Corrections Victoria and employers, including, where a court: made a formal finding of guilt in relation to an offence; convicted the applicant of an offence; accepted a plea of guilt from the applicant; or acquitted the applicant of an offence because of mental impairment; and

  information about any spent convictions, juvenile convictions and findings of guilt, pending charges; and the circumstances surrounding any charges or convictions.

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

VIC

Employees and volunteers in the following settings are required to obtain a Working With Children Check: child protection services; child care services; children's services; educational institutions (except teachers who are covered under the Victorian Institute of Teaching Act 2001); community services; remand centres; youth residential centres; youth supervision units or youth justice centres; refuges or other residential facilities used by children; paediatric wards of public and private hospitals; clubs, associations or movements (including of a cultural, recreational or sporting nature) that provide services or conduct activities for, or directed at children or whose membership is mainly comprised of children; religious organisations; baby sitting or child minding services arranged by a commercial agency; foster care services; transportation services specifically for children; coaching or tuition services of any kind for children; counselling or other support services for children; overnight camps for children; school crossing services; entertainment or party services, gym or play facilities, and photography services provided on a commercial basis specifically for children; and talent or beauty competitions held for children on a commercial basis. Note that people under 18 years of age do not require Working With Children Checks.

Requirements in Australian states and territories

Victoria

The Working With Children Act 2005 (Vic) sets out the legislative requirements for child safety screening in Victoria. Individuals who work or volunteer with children are required to undergo a screening process known as a Working With Children Check. Information, guidelines and application forms are available from the Department of Justice, Victoria (visit: www.justice.vic.gov.au/workingwithchildren). Beginning in 2006, the legislation is being phased-in over five years for different areas of child-related work. It is important that you check the date at which Working With Children Checks will become compulsory in your field.

The Working With Children Check is different from a Police Check as it provides ongoing monitoring for criminal offences for the duration of the validity of the Check (five years) and can be carried across employment/volunteer positions.

Police Checks can also be obtained via Victoria Police (visit: www.police.vic.gov.au/content.asp?Document_ID=274).