Working with Children Checks and Police Checks
Please find below responses to questions Speech Pathology Australia (SPA) members frequently ask about Working With Children Checks (WWCCs) and Police Checks.
Please note: there is no single national framework setting out requirements for obtaining a Working With Children Check or a Police Check and the requirements may also differ depending on whether you work in the public or private sector. Members are therefore advised to check the latest requirements for their state or territory by contacting the relevant body listed below.
It is also worth noting that WWCC’s have different names in different states/territories. This information has been included in the first table below, however, for ease of understanding the generic term WWCC has been used throughout the document unless specifically referring to a particular check for a particular state/territory.
What are the two types of screening programs operating in Australia?
The two types of screening programs are:
- Employer driven systems: where it is mandatory for employers in relevant fields to carry out background checks on prospective employees or volunteers, and
- Certification programs whereby the employee/volunteer obtains certification to engage in child-related work for a specified period of time.
How can I find out more information about these programs?
To view the type of scheme operating in your state or territory and the relevant legislation / regulations refer to the Fact Sheet Pre-employment screening: Working With Children Checks and Police Checks on the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) or see the Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) information exchange website www.aifs.gov.au/cfca/
What is the difference between a Police Check and a WWCC?
Police Checks: identify and release relevant criminal history information relating to convictions, findings of guilt or pending court proceedings. 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 conviction).
Working With Children Checks: the object of a WWCC is to make an assessment of the level of risk an individual poses to children’s safety. WWCCs are more extensive and more targeted than Police Checks and in some cases a National Police Check is part of the process for obtaining a WWCC. Information will include convictions, apprehensions, charges, any relevant allegations or police investigations and relevant employment proceedings and disciplinary information from professional organisations.
I work in the public sector do I need a WWCC or a Police Check?
This varies depending on which state/territory you work in. If you are unsure you should speak to your manager/employer. In some instances organisations have their own policies requiring employees and volunteers to undergo criminal background checks. This is particularly relevant in Tasmania where there is currently no legislation pertaining to WWCCs.
I’m self-employed do I need a WWCC or Police Check?
You may however, due to the variance across jurisdictions it is best if you look up the relevant legislation/requirements for the state/ territory you work in.
I employ staff (including speech pathologists and administrative staff) do they need a WWCC and Police Check?
Once again you need to check the relevant legislation/ requirements for your state/ territory.
Why don’t registered health professionals have to obtain a WWCC in some jurisdictions but speech pathologists do?
Registered health professionals are usually exempt from WWCC requirements because screening is part of the registration process.
My employer requires me to have a WWCC and/ or Police Check who pays for the Check(s)?
Public organisations will tend to have a policy about who requires a WWCC and or Police Check and thus who is responsible for organising the Check(s) and/ or paying for the Check(s). In private practice it is usually something that is negotiated between the employer and employee. For contractors it would be standard practice that it is stipulated in the contract as to whether they need a WWCC and/or Police Check. A contractor would be expected to obtain and pay for the Check(s).
I’m a private practitioner and it’s not mandatory for me to obtain a WWCC in the state/territory in which I work should I still get one?
This is a personal decision that you will have to make. Some private practitioners have reported obtaining a WWCC check (or requiring their staff to obtain a WWCC) as a way of minimising risk within their practice and providing an added layer of reassurance to their clients.
How do I obtain information relevant to my state/territory?
Below are the contact details for the relevant organisation in each state/territory.
Original March 2013
Updated May 2013, September, 2013, November 2015, February 2018
Disclaimer: To the best of the Speech Pathology Association of Australia Limited’s (“the Association”) knowledge, this information is valid at the time of publication. The Association makes no warranty or representation in relation to the content or accuracy of the material in this publication. The Association expressly disclaims any and all liability (including liability for negligence) in respect of the use of the information provided. The Association recommends you seek independent professional advice prior to making any decision involving matters outlined in this publication.
Download a PDF version below.