The Working with Children Check is a vital protection for both community groups and children. A recently updated resource sheet provides an overview of screening checks for people who engage with vulnerable groups such as children in employment or volunteer activities in Australia and lists state and territory requirements for working with children.
Working With Children Checks, Working With Vulnerable People Checks and Police Checks
This resource sheet provides an overview of screening checks for people who engage with vulnerable groups such as children in employment or volunteer activities in Australia. It outlines information about Working With Children Checks (WWCC), Working With Vulnerable People Checks (WWVPC) and Police Checks, their requirements and state/territory contact information. This resource is intended for employers, current and prospective employees and volunteers engaging in child-related work in Australia. It answers common questions related to pre-employment screening checks and provides state and territory requirements for working with children, including contact information for state/territory screening services.
The information provided is to be used as a guide only. Individuals are encouraged to check the currency of any information that is provided by contacting relevant departments or organisations. All enquiries about obtaining Working With Children Checks (WWCC), Working With Vulnerable People Checks (WWVPC) and Police Checks should be made to the state or territory government department responsible.
Each day, children across Australia come into contact with a variety of organisations such as schools, child care centres, hospitals, religious institutions and sports and recreation clubs. Pre-employment and volunteer screening for people seeking to engage in child-related work is one measure that contributes to ensuring the safety of children within these organisations. All Australian states and territories administer schemes for screening people who work and volunteer with children. Some of these schemes also include other vulnerable groups such as people with disability and older people. In 2019, state and territory ministers endorsed the National Standards for WWCCs and committed to working toward its implementation in their respective jurisdictions (National Office for Child Safety, 2023). However, there is no single national set of requirements for child-related employment and volunteer checks to work with children or vulnerable people. Instead, all Australian states and territories have related state-based legislation, regulations and pre-screening requirements.
Screening checks in New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia are called Working With Children Checks (WWCC) and in the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania are called Working With Vulnerable People checks (WWVPC). WWVPCs are broader than WWCCs because they are screening checks for people who are in contact with a child or an adult experiencing disadvantage (e.g. with a physical or mental disability) as part of their employment or volunteer work. Pre-employment and volunteer screenings, such as WWCCs, WWVPCs and Police Checks, screen for an individual’s criminal records and any reports on their professional conduct.
Pre-employment and volunteer screening checks are designed to help ensure that the right people are chosen to work or volunteer with children. They aim to prevent people from working or volunteering with children if records indicate they may pose a risk.
Research has highlighted the advantages of having structured pre-employment screening processes in place (Child Protection Systems Royal Commission, 2016). These benefits include:
- Subjective decision making is minimised by basing decisions on standardised points of reference. The use of structured risk assessment approaches is more reliable and valid than the use of professional judgement alone.
- The assumptions on which the risk assessment models are based can be clearly set out and may be tested.
- Information can be dealt with transparently, and the person affected can put forward information as well as correct it.
- Public awareness of the use of structured risk assessment models may deter possible offenders. (Child Protection Systems Royal Commission, 2016)
This resource sheet is divided into 2 parts:
- Common questions about pre-employment screening in relation to working with children and Police Checks
- State and territory requirements for working with children, including contact information for state/territory screening services.
Throughout this resource, the terminology reflects the language used in each jurisdiction.