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Working with Children Check in New South Wales

The Working with Children Check in NSW (New South Wales) falls under the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 and is overseen by the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG).

As of 15 June 2013, all employees and volunteers over 18 who begin working face-to-face in child-related work are required to undergo a check. The fee only applies to those requiring a check to work with children in paid employment.

If you were doing child-related work before 15 June 2013, the requirement for you to undergo a check is being phased in over a five-year period based on industry sectors. If your check expires or lapses during the phase-in, you must apply under the new rules.

A check can be used for any child-related work in the state. However, if you have a check as a volunteer, you cannot use this for a paid position. You are able to simply update your details and pay the fee to convert your check to a paid position type of check.

You will be subject to ongoing monitoring and your clearance can be revoked at any time for relevant misconduct.

Child-related work

You will be required to undergo a Working with Children Check in NSW if you work in a child-related sector, such as:

  • Child protection;
  • Child development, family welfare, or disability services;
  • Child care and education including early education;
  • Health services involving children;
  • Justice centres which deal with children;
  • Youth work;
  • Residential and transport services involving children;
  • School cleaners;
  • Clubs, religious organisations, or other entities who provide children’s services; or
  • Children’s entertainment.

Applying for a Working with Children Check in NSW

You must submit your own application online. Once it has been processed, you will receive either of the following:

  • A Working with Children Check notice – this grants you permission to work with children for a five-year period. It has your Working with Children number on it and you must provide this to anyone who employs you in child-related work over that period;
  • Disqualification letter – this means you cannot work with children;
  • Notice of interim bar – this means you are prevented from working with children until you are cleared to do so;
  • Notice of risk assessment – this means that further checks will be carried out before the OCG will make a decision in relation to your application.

Working with Children Check in NSWThe check

Your application will go through the following steps:

Step 1: A check against databases such as the national police database and workplace misconduct records database is undertaken.

Step 2: If an issue is identified under step 1, a review will be conducted of all records including the following:

  • Your criminal history including convictions (both spent and unspent), all charges ever laid against you (whether heard, yet to be heard or dismissed), and your juvenile records;

If you have been convicted of any of the disqualifying offences listed in Schedule 2 of the Act as an adult, you will not be cleared to work with children. If you have been charged with one of these offences a decision won’t be made until the charge is finalised.

  • All interstate records;
  • Any aliases; and
  • Findings of misconduct involving children by reporting bodies.

Step 3: If you have any charges or convictions for offences listed in Schedule 1 of the Act or in any other circumstances that the OCG believes is relevant to the safety of children, a further risk assessment will be conducted.

Schedule 1 offences

Offences which will trigger a risk assessment are set out in Schedule 1 of the Act. Offences vary depending upon, for example, whether you have been convicted or only charged.

A risk assessment may be triggered for the following offences:

  • Homicide;
  • Wounding or causing serious harm to a child;
  • A sexual offence in the presence of or against a child;
  • Drugging a child;
  • Assaulting anyone, particularly children;
  • Child abuse or neglect including leaving a child unsupervised in a vehicle;
  • Stalking;
  • Aggravated cruelty to animals; or
  • Certain drug offences.

Schedule 2 offences

Schedule 2 of the Act sets out a number of offences for which a conviction will preclude you from obtaining a Working with Children Check in NSW altogether. These offences include the following:

  • Homicide;
  • Wounding or causing serious harm;
  • Most sexual offences;
  • Kidnapping or slavery offences;
  • Child pornography offences; or
  • Abandonment or exposing a child to danger.

Interim bars, disqualification and appeals

An interim bar is applied to those who are assessed as being high risk individuals. An interim bar, when applied, will prevent a person from engaging in child-related work for up to 12 months. Not all risk assessments lead to an interim bar, however, the interim bar will prevent you from working with children until a final decision on your Working with Children Check is finalised.

Disqualification will prevent you from working with children for five years and automatically applies if you have been convicted of a schedule 2 offence (see above).

If you are subject to an interim bar or have been disqualified from working with children, you may be able to seek a review in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. If you are subject to an interim bar, you must wait six months before applying for an appeal.

You will not be able to appeal a disqualification if your criminal matter for a schedule 2 offence is subject to ongoing proceedings. You must wait until the proceedings have been finalised before appealing a disqualification from working with children in NSW. You will also not be able to appeal a disqualification if you have been found guilty of child murder.

All appeals to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal must bodged within 28 days of receiving a disqualification and after six months has lapsed since an interim bar has been applied. Extensions may be granted by the Tribunal in special circumstances.

Exemptions

You do not have to apply for a Working with Children Check in NSW if you meet any of the following:

  • You are under 18;
  • A parent or close relative volunteering with your child’s educational institution, team, program or other activity in which the child is involved;
  • Working in clerical or administrative roles, or maintenance or ancillary work that does not involve contact with children over extended periods;
  • Doing short term work amounting to less than five working days per calendar year;
  • From interstate and at a one-off event (up to 30 days in any year). You can also work or volunteer in any child-related work for up to 30 days a year if you hold an equivalent interstate check, or you are exempted in your home state;
  • You are a health practitioner from interstate working no more than five days in a three-month period;
  • A home carer and you have a current police certificate allowing you to work in aged care where your clients are not primarily children;
  • A Police officer; or
  • A private practice health practitioner who does not usually treat children unless other adults are present.

Additional roles that do not require a check are set out in Part 2 of the Child Protection (Working With Children) Regulation 2013.

Employers’ obligations

To comply with the requirements of the Working with Children Check in NSW, employers of persons who are to work in a child-related business must complete the following:

  • Register online with the OCG;
  • Determine which positions in the organisation require a check, verify the status of every new employee before hiring them, and make sure they have a check or have made an application;
  • Determine your responsibilities in relation to reporting misconduct involving children;
  • Report all instances of misconduct as required to the OCG;
  • Ensure that current workers and volunteers apply for the new check under the phase-in schedule;
  • Remove any barred persons from child-related work. An employer has no legal obligation to find alternative work for a barred employee;
  • Keep records of the verification of child-related workers including:
  • Their full name and date of birth;
  • The Working with Children Check number;
  • The date and outcome of the check verification; and
  • Expiry date of their check.

You should keep records of checks for 7 years.

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