The Working with Children Check (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.
If you are doing or intending to do child-related work and do not qualify for an exemption, you need a Check.
To help you decide if you are doing child-related work see Who needs a Check?
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.
The Check is just a starting point. It screens a person’s criminal records and any reports about professional conduct by the bodies listed in What is checked.
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 person is suitable to work with children and to continue monitoring their workers' behaviour around children.
Organisations should be vigilant at all times by doing thorough reference checks and establishing sound, ongoing supervision practices so that children are safe from harm. For more information go to Commission for Children and Young People.
Unless you are exempt, you must obtain a Check to do child-related work. You are doing child-related work if you work within one or more of the occupational fields defined in the Act, and your contact with children is direct, unsupervised, and part of your duties.
All ministers of religion are now required to get a Check unless the contact they have 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 direct and unsupervised contact with children. Any contact with children, unless it is only occasional and incidental, is enough to trigger the requirement to get a Check. This includes ministers who have children present in their congregation, or who attend schools or children’s camps, even when all their contact with children is supervised.
Some people are exempt from the Check including teachers registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT), and parents working with their child. For details, go to Exemptions.
If you pass the Check, you can participate in child-related work for five years. The checking continues during this time as your criminal records and professional conduct continue to be monitored. This means that if, for example, you are charged with a serious crime, your eligibility to continue working with children will be reassessed.
If the Department of Justice & Regulation decides that you should not pass the Check, you will have an opportunity to explain in a submission why you believe you should pass. If, after consideration of your submission, you still do not pass the Check, you can appeal the department’s decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
The first Checks were processed in 2006.
By 30 June 2015 over 1.1 million people had passed the Check, and 2,239 people had failed the Check and were prohibited from working with children.
Since its introduction, the scheme has been regularly reviewed and the Act amended several times to strengthen its operation and ensure the efficient administration of the Check.