The Working with Children Check (the Check) helps protect children from physical and sexual harm. It does this by screening people’s criminal records and professional conduct and preventing those who pose an unjustifiable risk to children from working with or caring for them.
A Check is valid for five years and is transferrable between employers or volunteer organisations, as it remains the property of the individual (except if moving from a volunteer to an employee position because a person cannot use a volunteer card to engage in paid work).
The Check is different from a police check as cardholders are monitored on an ongoing basis, for any new relevant offences or adverse professional conduct reports from prescribed professional bodies. New charges, convictions or findings relevant to the Check will instigate a re-assessment of the person’s eligibility to hold a card.
The Checks is not a substitute for child safe practices.
The Check is just a starting point. It screens a person’s criminal records and any reports about professional conduct by some professional bodies.
The Check does not assess a person’s suitability to work with or care for children in a particular role. It is the responsibility of organisations to assess if a worker is suitable to work with children and continue monitoring their behaviour around children.
The Check is one part of building a child safe organisation, but it is not a substitute for undertaking the other strategies included in this guide.
The Department of Justice and Regulation administers the Working with Children Check – visit their website at www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au
The Check screens the person’s lifelong criminal history records, from Victoria Police, the police of other Australian States and Territories and the Australian Federal Police.
The Check also examines reports from Corrections Victoria, the Department of Health & Human Services’ Child Protection Unit, other courts, information provided by organisations and other relevant sources.
The Check reveals information about:
The offences that are relevant to the Check are:
For a complete list of offences go to the Working with Children Check website ‘List of offences’.
Any person who intends to do child-related work, and who does not qualify for an exemption, needs a Check.
The Act includes some exemptions; examples, a person is under the age of 18 years, a parent volunteering in an activity in which their child participates, or normally participates, do not need a Check. For a complete list of exemptions, view the List of Exemptions page on the Working with Children Check website.
The Check is just one part of creating and maintaining a child safe environment.
Organisations need to ensure that people in roles that have direct, unsupervised contact with children have a WWC Check.
In addition to your obligations under the Act, it is your duty to assess the suitability of both volunteers and staff you engage, to make sure children are safe with them. To do this, you need to at least have sound practices in place to check their references and monitor their behaviour around the children in your care.
If you are a religious organisation, you must ensure that all ministers of religion pass the Check unless their contact with children is only occasional and always incidental to their work.
Child-related work for ministers is defined more broadly than for everyone else. For ministers, child-related work is not limited to work involving unsupervised, direct contact with children.
By law, any contact with children, unless it is only occasional and incidental, is enough to require the minister to get a Check. This includes ministers regardless of whether their contact with children is supervised or not, who visit schools, children’s camps or have children present in their congregation.