The check is a mandatory requirement for anyone who works with children or vulnerable members of the community, in either a paid or voluntary role. Businesses must not hire anyone who does not have a valid check, unless a specific state based exemption applies or they have lodged an application for a check that is in the process of being assessed. If your organisation fails to comply with legislation surrounding working with children or vulnerable people, there may be consequences for both the individual and the organisation, including fines and imprisonment.
A Working with Children and Vulnerable People Check reviews a candidate’s criminal record in all Australian states and territories, as well as checking any findings of workplace misconduct. The result of a check is either a clearance to work with children, vulnerable people or groups for a specified period of time, or a bar against working with these groups.
There is no single check that covers an individual worker across every State and Territory in Australia. Each Australian State and Territory has its own screening unit to conduct the relevant check and issue the resulting card, registration or permit. Each of these checks may differ in terms of who is required to be registered, how long the registration is valid for, and the type of history that may prevent an individual from successfully passing the check.
For example, an employee who legally requires a check, who works in both Victoria and Tasmania, would need both a Victorian Working With Children Check and a Tasmanian Working With Vulnerable People Check.
All Australian States and Territories offer checks for both paid and volunteer workers:
For example, in Victoria, if you have a volunteer check and want to do paid child-related work, you would need to request to transition the type of your Working with Children Check from Volunteer to Employee. With an Employee Check, you can perform both volunteer and paid child-related work.
Generally speaking, the majority of checks will take between two and four weeks from the initial application to receiving the check. Some people may receive their results within a few days, others may wait longer depending on the information supplied. There are many reasons as to why some checks may take longer than others to process, including:
For example, in Victoria, it typically takes up to three weeks to assess the application, however – if the applicant has a common name or the authorised body needs to spend more time investigating the application – it may take up to 12 weeks.
When a check is “acknowledged”, this means that the employer has seen it, and checked the following details:
From here, an additional fee may be paid to formally “verify” the check with the relevant Australian State or Territory’s authorised body. Note that this service is currently not available in the ACT or South Australia. Once verified, the WorkPro platform will facilitate a result in minutes. The verification certificate shows date/s verified and the validity of the card.
Employing entities can continue to periodically verify that there have been no changes to the card status, ensuring the check hasn’t been revoked, checking expiry dates and ensuring that the card remains valid for continued currency.