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The application process

After you have lodged your application for a Working with Children Check (Check) at Australia Post, it is electronically sent to the Department of Justice & Regulation.

If any information is missing from your application, the department will contact you. If you fail to submit the requested information, your application will be withdrawn and, by law, you cannot do any child-related work. To do so is a breach of the Working with Children Act 2005 (the Act) and penalties apply.


How long will it take?

It generally takes two-to-three weeks for applications to be finalised. You and your organisations will be advised of the outcome at this time. After this, it will take two more weeks for your card to be made and mailed to you.

However, if the screening check reveals criminal activity or an adverse professional conduct report relevant to the Check, or if you have a very common name, it can take up to 12 weeks for the department to assess your application.


What does the Check involve?

1. A screening check of:

  • criminal records in all Australian states and territories across your lifetime
  • professional conduct reports by the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) or the Suitability panel
  • relevant determinations by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) under current and historical health practitioner legislation.

2. A rigorous assessment of any relevant offences and professional conduct reports revealed by the screening process. The department gathers information from a range of sources such as:

  • Court records including the Children’s Court.
  • The Department of Health & Human Services’ Child Protection Unit, health professionals, employers, and Corrections Victoria.
  • Material provided by the applicant.

3. Preparation of the Department of Justice & Regulation's decision.

The offences that are relevant to the Check are:

  1. Serious sexual, violent or drug offences.
  2. Any offence that presents an unjustifiable risk to the safety of children.
  3. Offences against the Act.

The protection of children is the paramount consideration for any decision made under the Act.


What happens next?

If the criminal record check does not reveal any relevant offences or adverse professional conduct reports, you will pass the Check. Go to Passing the Check for details.

It is then up to your organisation to assess if your suitability to work with or care for children in a particular role.

If the department's assessment indicates that you will fail the Check, you will be served with an Interim Negative Notice. You will be given the opportunity to explain why you believe you should pass the Check.

The department will review your submission and decide if you will pass the Check or receive a Negative Notice. A Negative Notice means you must not work with or care for children, even if your contact with children is supervised or you qualify for an exemption under the Act.

If you are served with a Negative Notice, you may apply to VCAT to have the department's decision reviewed. Certain category A applicants can only apply for a review on the grounds of mistaken identity.


What does department tell my organisations?

The department is required to inform the organisations that engage you in child-related work of its decisions. This includes serving you with an Interim Negative Notice or a Negative Notice, as well as passing the Check.

If you remove organisations from your records, the department may notify these organisations that you have removed their details.

You are legally required to provide the department with the details of all the organisations that engage you in child-related work.

The department will not disclose any details to these organisations about your criminal record or professional conduct.