Certain penalties apply to individuals and organisations who commit an offence against the Worker Screening Act 2020 (the Act) and the Worker Screeing Regulations 2021 (the Regulations).

The tables below outline examples of offences and the penalties that might apply should the Act be breached. If you are supervising children, defences available may be modified by section 19A of the Child Employment Act 2003.

We've also created a guide to offences so you are aware of what we regularly look for when assessing applications for a Check, or what we are notified about for current cardholders.

Please note: The information below is intended as a guide only. It is not legal advice and should not be taken as such. It is recommended that you seek independent legal advice relevant to your particular circumstances.

Applicants and WWC Clearance holders

The table below outlines the offences and penalties that can apply to individuals when it comes to the Check.

 

Offences for applicants and WWC Clearance holders

Offences Defence/exception Penalty* Section in the Act or Regulation
Engaging in child-related work if you do not have a Check, knowing that the work is child-related work, and that you do not have a Check.

You may work while your application is being assessed, only if you have not been given a WWC Exclusion, and:

  • you are not excluded from child-related work under a corresponding working with children law
  • you are not subject to reporting obligations or orders under the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004, or a supervision order, detention order or emergency detention order, or
  • you have not been charged with, convicted or found guilty of sexual, violent or drug offences specified in clause 2 of Schedule 5 of the Act

If an exemption applies to you, you may work in your chosen occupational field only if:

  • you have not been given a WWC Exclusion; and
  • you are not subject to reporting obligations or orders under the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004, or subject to a supervision order, detention order or emergency detention order.

If you are engaging in work as a volunteer, or undertaking practical training, it is a defence to the charge if your employer has been notified of your WWC Exclusion and is in the process of transferring you to non-child-related work, or in the process of lawfully terminating your employment.

You have been given a WWC Exclusion but have applied to VCAT and been granted a stay of the decision to give you a WWC Exclusion whilst your appeal is pending.

If you are engaging in child-related work that is out of home care (kinship care), and you have applied for a Check within 21 days of becoming a kinship carer.

Two years imprisonment, or a fine of 240 penalty units maximum* or both. 121(1)
Knowingly using a false card or another person’s card when you are applying for or doing child-related work. n/a Two years imprisonment, or a fine of 240 penalty units manximum* or both. 126
Using a Volunteer Check to do paid work knowing you have a Volunteer Check and the work is for profit or gain.
  • You did not know that your Check was only a Volunteer Check, or
  • You did not know that the work you were engaging in was for profit or gain.
A fine of five penalty units maximum*. 125 (1)
Providing false or misleading information to the Department of Justice and Community Safety in your application for a Check or when the department is reassessing your eligibility to hold a Check.

You believed on reasonable grounds that:

  • the information provided was true; or
  • the information provided was not misleading.
Two years imprisonment, or a fine of 240 penalty units maximum* or both. 128 (2)

Applying for a Check when you are:

  • a registrable offender under the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004
  • subject to a detention order, supervision order or emergency detention order.
n/a Two years imprisonment or a fine of 240 penalty units*. 129

Failing to notify your organisation/s and the department, in writing within seven days of a relevant change in circumstances.

A relevant change in circumstances is if:

  • you are charged with an offence listed in Schedule 2 or 4 of the Act
  • you are convicted or found guilty of an offence listed in Schedule 2 or 4 of the Act, or the charge has been finally dealt with
  • you become subject to:
    • reporting obligations under the Sex Offenders Registrations Act 2004
    • a supervision order, detention order or emergency detention order
  • A relevant disciplinary or regulatory finding is made against you
  • you are given an NDIS exclusion
  • you are excluded from child-related work under a corresponding working with children law

It is a defence to a charge of failing to notify the department of how your charge has been finally dealt with if you can prove that:

  • you notified the department of the filing of the charge sheet; and
  • the department re-assessed your eligibility to have a Check, and
  • your Check was not revoked following the re-assessment, and
  • the charge was finally dealt with other than by a finding of guilty.
A fine of 60 penalty units maximum*. 72

Failing to notify the department of a change in your organisation/employer’s details within 21 days of becoming aware of the change.

This includes changes in the following details:

  • name of organisation/employer
  • address, and 
  • telephone number.
n/a A fine of one penalty unit*. 73

Failing to notify the department within 21 days of any changes to your:

  • full name, and any other names you are currently or have been known by
  • date of birth
  • residential address
  • email address
  • phone numbers

if you either hold a Check or have applied for a Check.

n/a A fine of one penalty unit*. Regulation 12 
If you have been given a WWC Exclusion and do not have a current WWC Clearance it is an offence to apply for or engage in child-related work.

You did not know the work you were applying for was or engaging in was child-related work

OR

You have applied to VCAT for a WWC Clearance and been granted a stay of the decision to give you a WWC Exclusion.

Two years imprisonment, a fine of 240 penalty units maximum* or both. 122 (1)
Failing to notify your organisation/employer in writing, of an Interim WWC Exclusion, or WWC Exclusion given to you, within 7 days after being given the exclusion. n/a A fine of 60 penalty units maximum*. 127
Refusing or failing to surrender your card or other Check documents, if requested to do so by the department upon the revocation of your card. You have a reasonable excuse why you did not surrender the requested documents. A fine of 60 penalty units maximum*. 91 (4)
Refusion or failing to surrender your first card within 7 days, if you have applied for and been given another card, and you have been directed to surrender your first card. You have a reasonable excuse why you did not surrender the first card. A fine of one penalty unit*. 93 (3)

If the Teacher exemption applies to you

Failing to notify in writing any organisation that engages you in child-related work, of any suspension or cancellation of your registration with the Victorian Institute of Teaching within seven days after receiving notice of the suspension or cancellation.

n/a A fine of 60 penalty units maximum*. 113 (3)

If the Teacher exemption applies to you

Failing to notify in writing the department of any person who has engaged you or an agency who has listed you to perform child-related work that is not teaching in a school or an early childhood service, within 21 days after the engagement.

n/a A fine of 10 penalty units*. 113(2)

If the Police officer or protective services officer exemption applies to you

Failing to notify in writing any organisation that engages you in child-related work, of any suspension or dismissal of your job as a police officer under the Victoria Police Act 2013, or Australian Federal Police Act 1979, within 7 days after receiving notice of the suspension or dismissal.

n/a A fine of 60 penalty units maximum*. 114 (2) and 115 (2)

Failing to provide information requested by the department pursuant to s 142(1) of the Act within 28 days, or any longer period specified in the notice.

You have a reasonable excuse why you did not comply with the request, including if the information would tend to incriminate you A fine of 60 penalty units*. 142 (2)

 

Organisations engaging people in child-related work

Every organisation (including companies and individuals) that engages people in child-related work is also subject to penalties if an offence is committed against the Act. The table below outlines some of the offences and penalties that may apply.

 

Offences for organisations engaging people in child-related work

Offences Exceptions / defences Penalty for individuals* Penalty for companies* Section reference in the Act

Knowingly or recklessly engaging or continuing to engage a person in child-related work who does not have a Check.

  • If the worker doesn’t need a Check because they are exempt under the Act.
  • If the worker has applied for a Check and their application is being processed and has not been withdrawn or finally decided, unless you knew or ought to reasonably to have know that the worker:
    • was excluded from child-related work under a corresponding working with children law; was subject to reporting obligations under the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 or a supervision order, detention order or emergency deterntion order; or
    • has been been charged with, convicted or found guilty of offences specified in clause 2 of Schedule 5 of the Act. (Tip: check the status of their application, and their work rights, on the website, to make sure they’re not prohibited from working while being assessed).
  • If you were in the process of transferring the worker to non-child-related work, or you were in the process of lawfully terminating them.
  • If you directly engaged the worker to undertake child-related work with your child, whether or not it involved direct contact with other children.
  • The worker has been given a WWC Exclusion but had applied to VCAT and been granted a stay of the decision to give them the WWC Exclusion.
Two years imprisonment, or a fine of 240 penalty units maximum* or both. A fine of 1200 penalty units*. 123
Knowingly or recklessly offering the services of any person without a Check to another person or organisation for child-related work.
  • If the worker doesn’t need a Check because they’re exempt under the Act.
  • If If the worker has applied for a Check and their application is being processed, and has not been withdrawn or finally decided, unless you knew or ought reasonably to have known that the worker:  
    • was excluded from child-related work under a corresponding working with children law; was subject to reporting obligations under the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 or a supervision order, detention order or emergency detention order; or
    • has been charged with, convicted or found guilty of an offence specified in clause 2 of Schedule 5 of the Act. (Tip: check the status of their application, and their work rights, on the website, to make sure they’re not prohibited from working while being assessed).
  • the worker has been given a WWC Exclusion but had applied to VCAT and been granted a stay of the decision to give them a WWC Exclusion.
Two years imprisonment, or a fine of 240 penalty units maximum* or both. A fine of 1200 penalty units*. 124
Giving any person, directly or indirectly, any information acquired from a Check, including information obtained from the worker or from the Department of Justice and Community Safety. This applies to both individuals and organisations.
  • The information was given in good faith for the prevention of a serious threat to a person's life, health or safety, for a reference check, or for making employment related decisions.
  • The information was given in good faith to the Commission for Children and Young People for the purposes of an investigation of a reportable allegation under Part 5A of the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005.
  • Where the person to whom the information relates is a child, or has a cognitive impairment or mental illness, someone authorised to act on their behalf, gave written authority to release information.
  • It was given to a court or tribunal in the course of legal proceedings, or pursuant to a court or tribunal order.
  • It was given to the extent reasonably required to enable the investigation or the enforcement of laws in Australia.
  • It was given to any person or body with functions that correspond with the functions or powers of the Chief Commissioner of Police under the Act.
  • It was given to a lawyer for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or representation.
  • It was given as required or permitted by or under the Act or any other law.
  • It was given to the Victorian Institute of Teaching for the purposes of the Institute's functions under Part 2.6 of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006.
A fine of 60 penalty units maximum*. A fine of 60 penalty units maximum*. 130
Knowingly or recklessly engaging or continuing to engage a person in child-related work for profit or gain if that person has a Volunteer Check.
  • You didn’t know the worker’s Check was only a Volunteer Check.
A fine of five penalty units maximum*. A fine of five penalty units maximun*. 125 (2)
Failing to provide information to the Department of Justice and Community Safety pursuant to s142(1) of the Act within 28 days or any longer period specified in the notice. 

You have a reasonable excuse why you didn’t provide the information including if the information would tent to incriminate you.

A fine of 60 penalty units*. A fine of 60 penalty units*. 142(2)

 

*Penalty amounts

Offences against The Act carry penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment. The value of penalty units listed in the Act are determined each financial year by the Victorian Government under section 5(3) of the Monetary Units Act 2004.

Penalty unit 2020-21 financial year
1 $165.22
5 $826.10
60 $9,913.20
240 $39,652.80
1200 $198,264.00

Related information