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Working With Children Check in Victoria

Most people will need to get a Working With Children Check if they are going to do child-related work or volunteering in Victoria. Child-related work is work that involves direct, unsupervised contact with someone who is under 18 as part of your duties.  Direct contact means your work allows you to have physical contact or talk face-to-face with children.

Child-related work is also categorised by the services, bodies or places listed in the Act. These are called occupational categories and include:

  • Schools or other educational institutes (including providing coaching and tuition for children);
  • Clubs or associations providing services or activities directed at children;
  • Religious organisations;
  • Commercial baby sitting or child-minding services; and
  • Providing commercial entertainment, gym or play services for children.

Who needs to apply?

The Act sets out who must apply for a Working With Children Check.

You will need to apply if you:

  1. are an adult working with children; and
  2. work in one or more of the occupational categories; and
  3. have direct contact with children as part of your duties; and
  4. are not directly supervised by someone else while having contact with children.

A wide variety of people will need to apply, including:

  • employees;
  • volunteers;
  • self-employed;
  • contractors;
  • body corporate officers;
  • management committee members of an unincorporated body;
  • partnership members;
  • ministers of religion (or someone performing religious vocation duties);
  • participants in practical training, as part of an educational/ vocational course; and
  • unpaid community workers under a court order.

If you are supervising employees who are under 15 years of age, you will also need to apply for a Working With Children Check.  This is required by the Child Employment Act 2003.

Who does NOT need to apply?

Parents who volunteer in an activity that their child participates in, or would usually participate, do not need a Working With Children Check.  For example, a parent coaching their child’s football team would not need a Check but would if their child was on a different team.

Working only with closely-related children does not require a Check.  You are closely-related if you are a parent, step-parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt or sibling.  This also covers mothers- or fathers-in-law, and domestic partnerships.

Teachers and police officers are also exempt. You will need to notify any organisation that you do child-related work for if:

  • You are a teacher, and your registration is cancelled or suspended; or
  • You are a police officer and you have been suspended from duty.

Workers visiting from other states do not need to apply, as long as:

  • You do not undertake child-related work for more than 30 days; and
  • You do not engage in any more child-related work in Victoria in the same calendar year.

If you are unsure whether you need a Check, you can find out by completing the online questionnaire.

Who cannot apply?

You cannot apply for a Check if:

A relevant change includes having charges pending against you withdrawn or struck out, or being found not guilty.

The Check

There are two types of Working With Children Check:

  1. An Employee Check allows you to do paid and voluntary child-related work; and
  2. A Volunteer Check can only be used for voluntary work.

The Check looks at your national criminal records for relevant offences, including:

  • Serious violent, sexual or drug offences;
  • Other offences that pose an unjustifiable risk to children’s safety; and
  • Offences against the Working with Children Act 2005.

Your non-convictions, spent convictions, acquittals because of mental impairment, and pending charges are all considered.

The Check also examines reports from other courts and organisations, such as Corrections Victoria, the Department of Health, and Child Protection, as well as any other information you provide.  If you work for any professional bodies, they may be asked about your professional conduct

Working With Children Checks are valid for five years. Your Check can be reassessed during these five years if your circumstances change.

The application process

You must lodge your application at Australia Post, who then send it to the Department of Justice & Regulation.

You will be contacted if anything is missing from your application.  If you do not provide the missing information, your application will be withdrawn and you cannot do any child-related work.

Other important points about your application:

  • It generally takes two or three weeks for applications to be finalised but allow up to 12 weeks;
  • The Department will inform you, and your nominated organisations, about the results of your application; and
  • You will receive your Working With Children Check card about two weeks after your application is finalised.

The Department must inform employers and volunteer organisations you do child-related work for of its final decision.

Negative notices

You will receive an Interim Negative Notice if the Department’s assessment indicates that your application will fail.  The Department must tell you why your application will fail.  You will also be asked to make a written submission explaining why you think you should pass the Check.  The Interim Notice will give you a time limit for making your submission.

You cannot withdraw your application after receiving an Interim Negative Notice.

A Negative Notice is the Department’s final decision.  It is issued if the Department rejects your submissions, or if you failed to respond to the Interim Negative Notice within the time limit.

The Negative Notice stops you doing any child-related work, even if you qualify for an exemption, or would be supervised while working.  A copy of your Negative Notice is sent to every organisation you have listed with the Department.  You must tell anyone that you propose to do child-related work for about the Negative Notice.

Once a Negative Notice is issued, you cannot apply again for five years, unless your circumstances change. This means:

Appealing a negative notice

You can appeal a Negative Notice to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. You must lodge an application to appeal the decision within 28 days of receiving a Negative Notice.

The Tribunal may:

  • Suspend the Negative Notice, pending the outcome of your appeal;
  • Confirm the Negative Notice is correct;
  • Set aside the Negative Notice and order that you receive a Check; or
  • Order the Department to reconsider.

In making their decision, the Tribunal must be satisfied of the safety of children, including:

  • A reasonable person would let their child have direct unsupervised contact with you;
  • You are suitable to do the work and do not pose an unjustifiable risk to children’s safety; and
  • It is in the public interest to issue a check.

Working without a check

You can still do child-related work while your application is being processed, even if you have received an Interim Negative Notice.

You cannot do child-related work if you are charged with, found guilty or convicted of a serious violent, sexual or drug offence (such as sexual assaults against children, grievous bodily harm or drug trafficking).

You must not work without a Check if you have previously received a Negative Notice or are subject to orders or reporting obligations under the:

People working in a service under the Children’s Services Regulations 1998 or under the Education and Care Services National Law (Victoria) must complete the Check before undertaking child-related work.

What if I already have a police check?

Police Checks only list offences that are on a person’s national criminal records.  This is insufficient information to satisfy the Act, so you will still need to apply for a Working With Children Check.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 

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