Working With Children Check: The Ultimate Guide

Working With Children Illustration

Working with Children Check is a screening clearance for people who work or volunteer with children in Australia. 

One of the main reasons this risk assessment screening process is obligatory when working with children is to offer child protection and safeguard them from abuse and neglect. 

While VerifyNow does not provide these checks, we strongly advise that you’re equipped with all the information regarding the sort of checks and screenings you may be required to perform when working with children. 

So we’ve put together this ultimate guide to guide you on all there is to know about working with children in Australia.

 

Who Is Required To Undergo Working With Children Checks (WWCC)?

All states and territories in Australia have introduced legislation that regulates assessments for employees or volunteers who perform jobs in child-related roles. 

The law requires potential applicants who will engage with children as their profession to meet specific screening requirements. Child-related job or volunteer positions include: 

  • education and child care; 
  • child welfare; 
  • child healthcare; 
  • child protection; and even 
  • child entertainment such as “nippers” at the lifesaving club

 

When Is Working With Children Registration Required by Law?

Legislation governing the protection of children varies according to the particular state or territory in Australia. So, there is currently no general national approach.

In New South Wales

According to the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012, all employees and volunteers who are above 18 years old and work with children need a Working with Children Check (WWCC) clearance. 

Child-related roles include directly engaging with children in either of the following industries: 

  • child development services; 
  • child and family welfare; 
  • hospital wards where children are treated; 
  • all other children’s health services; 
  • education and tutoring services; 
  • child care services; 
  • sporting; cultural and entertainment services offered to children; as well as
  • residential and transport services

Registration must be completed through the authorised government screening unit – the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian

Following a National Police Check, if the applicant is successful, they are given clearance to work in child-related roles for five years before having to renew their registration. 

All employers are responsible for verifying the validity of the Working with Children Check registration. It’s considered an offence if employers do not conduct a screening without a reasonable excuse.

Employing any individual that does not hold a Working with Children Check clearance carries penalties in the form of government fines under the Child Protection Act.

In Queensland

The equivalent to the Working with Children Check in Queensland is known as a Blue Card Check

According to the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening Act) 2000, if you’re an employee or volunteer working in either of the following child-related settings, you are required to obtain a Blue Card: 

  • schools and school boarding facilities; 
  • other education services 
  • churches; 
  • clubs and associations; 
  • health care services; and 
  • counselling and support services

Registration must be completed through the authorised government screening unit, Blue Card Services.

Following a National Police Check, if the candidate is successful, they are given a Blue Card and can work with children for three years before having to renew their registration.

In Tasmania and The Australian Capital Territory

The equivalent to the Working with Children Check in Tasmania and The Australian Capital Territory is known as the Working with Vulnerable People Check

While the check regulates people who work with children, it also governs who can work with other vulnerable people, including individuals above the age of 18 years who are:

  • unable to take care of themselves;
  • or is unable to safeguard themselves against abuse or exploitation due to their age, illness, trauma, disability or any other reason


The following table summarises the government screening units in Tasmania and The Australian Capital Territory:

State or Territory

Name of the Check

Who It’s Applicable To

Relevant Legislation

Government Screening Unit

Tasmania

Working with Vulnerable People Check

All employees and volunteers over 16 years who work in positions with vulnerable people, including children

Registration to Work With Vulnerable People Act 2013

Consumer, Building and Occupational Services

The Australian Capital Territory

Working with Vulnerable People Check

All employees and volunteers over 18 years who work in positions with vulnerable people, including children

The Working With Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Act 2011

Access Canberra

You can read more about these checks in our article about working with vulnerable people.

In Other States and Territories

The following table summarises the government screening units in the other states and territories:

State or Territory

Name of the Check

Who It’s Applicable To

Relevant Legislation

Government Screening Unit

Victoria

Working with Children Check

All employees and volunteers over 18 years who work in child-related roles

The Working with Children Act 2005

Department of Justice and Regulation, Working with Children Check Unit

South Australia

DSI Screening

Employees or volunteers in positions that involve regular contact with children. 

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016

DSI Screening Unit

Western Australia

Working with Children Check

Volunteers over 18 years who work in child-related roles. Employees both under and over 18 years require a check.

The Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 

WWC Screening Unit

Northern Territory

Working with Children Clearance/ Ochre Card

All employees and volunteers over 15 years who work in child-related roles

The Care and Protection of Children Act 2007

Screening Assessment for Employment

 

Key Takeaways

To work with children in Australia, you’ll need to obtain the relevant state or territory’s children clearance. To obtain the clearance, the applicant needs to undergo a screening process known as the Working with Children Check.

To ensure that children are protected against being exploited or abused within the various child sectors, it’s vital that businesses establish a candidate’s past behaviour with children. This way, you can determine their possible future behaviour. 

For example, if the findings of the National Police Check show misconduct involving children, a risk assessment will need to be conducted. The risk assessment will indicate whether you pose a risk to the safety of children.

What’s useful with the Working with Children Check is that it’s a continuous assessment of a person’s eligibility to work or volunteer with children – not just a once-off screening.

Each state and territory legislate their own Working with Children clearance systems. 

While we don’t consult on working with children checks, we do advise that you consider all screening services when it comes to selecting individuals to work for your business. WWCC is one piece of the overall employment screening process and should be used in together with other forms of employment checks

At VerifyNow we offer services to help businesses simplify their pre-employment screening. We provide one of the most comprehensive screening services in Australia to help you make the best decision for your next hire. To find out how we can help you with your next hiring process, get in touch with us today.

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