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Working with Children Check

A sample Working with Children Check card.Renew your Working with Children Check online

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.

Where can I find further information about the Working with Children Check?

The Department of Justice and Regulation administers the Working with Children Check – visit their website at www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au

What is checked?

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:

  • convictions and findings of guilt from when you were under 18 years of age
  • findings of guilt with or without a conviction
  • guilty pleas
  • acquittals because of mental impairment
  • spent convictions
  • pending charges
  • the circumstances of these charges or court findings.

The offences that are relevant to the Check are:

  • serious sexual, violent or drug offences
  • any offence that presents an unjustifiable risk to the safety of children
  • offences against the Working with Children Act 2005 (the Act).

For a complete list of offences go to the Working with Children Check website ‘List of offences’.

Who needs a Check?

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.

Organisations need to:

  • determine which paid and volunteer workers require a Check
  • ensure workers have a valid Check
  • ensure new starters apply for a Check before commencing child-related work.

Organisations must:

  • not engage in child-related work anyone who does not have a valid Check, unless they are exempt under the Act
  • not engage in child-related work any person who is subject to obligations or orders under Schedule 3 of the Act
  • not allow people who are charged with, convicted or found guilty of serious sexual, violent or drug offences specified in clause 2 of Schedule 3 of the to work with or care for children while their application is processed or their Check reassessed.
  • check if a person is allowed to work with children on Check status
  • check that any self-employed person, such as a coach or tutor, has a valid Check and is not prohibited from working with children. Go to Check status
  • ensure supervisors of other workers’ contact with children have a Check, unless the supervisor is exempt under the Act
  • ensure that a person who has a Negative Notice does not work with or care for children, even if they are exempt or you can arrange supervision of their contact with children
  • ensure paid workers doing child-related work have an Employee Check, not a Volunteer Check
  • respect and protect workers’ privacy.

It is against the law for a person who is required to but who has not obtained a Working with Children Check to engage in child-related work, including volunteering.
It is also against the law to knowingly employ a person who has not obtained a Working with Children Check in child-related work if they are required to have one, including volunteering.

Organisation’s obligations

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.

To keep the children in your care safe from harm, you must know:

  • that everyone with direct and unsupervised contact with children has a Check
  • if applicants are legally permitted to work while their application is processed. People with serious sexual, violent or drug offences or subject to orders listed under Schedule 3 of the Act cannot work with children while their applications are assessed.
  • when workers’ Checks expire
  • what to do if one of your workers:
    • has their card suspended or revoked
    • is issued with an Interim Negative Notice
    • fails the Check and is issued with a Negative Notice.

In addition to your legal obligations listed above, you must:

  • keep a record of the application receipt or card number of all workers doing child-related work in your organisation
  • carefully look at workers’ cards, and record the number, expiry date and card type (‘E’ for paid employees or ‘V’ for volunteers)
  • retain and secure all correspondence the department sends you about your workers
  • ensure workers notify the department within 21 days of commencing child-related work with your organisation and whenever their personal and contact details change.

Special requirements for religious organisations

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.