Making the decision to put your child in a child care can be a stressful time. As well as the emotional trauma of having to leave your little one all day, you may worry about them getting ill, feeling lonely or one of a hundred other concerns experienced by parents facing the prospect of leaving their child in a centre or with a nanny, au pair or babysitter for the first time.
Knowing you are leaving your child safe in the hands of qualified professionals should help ease your concerns. Working with children checks are now mandatory in most States and Territories in Australia, and these checks are working to provide a safer environment for children in child care.
Refer to the table below for an overview of the checks available in each State or Territory and to find out which agency oversees the checking process.
Remember that child care workers need to fulfil the checking and clearance requirements of the state they are working in as there are no checks required on a national basis.
|Australian Capital Territory||Under new rules in the ACT, people who work with children and vulnerable adults must register with a Statutory Screening Unit. Under the Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Bill 2010 it is expected that all employees and volunteers who provide regulated services to children will be checked in the first year of the new law’s operation. For more information click here.|
|New South Wales||The NSW Office of the Children's Guardian is responsible for conducting Working With Children Checks to determine whether a person is suitable to work in child related employment.|
A Working With Children Check is mandatory for anyone who works with kids and involves a national criminal history check and a review of findings of workplace misconduct.
A person who successfully passes a Working With Children Check receives clearance to work with children for five years, or a bar from working with children. People who pass are also subject to ongoing monitoring and new recorded may lead to the clearance being revoked.
The check is portable which means people who are cleared can work in any paid or unpaid child related work in NSW as long as they remain cleared.
For more information click here.
|Northern Territory||In the NT the law has recently changed and from 1 March 2011 it will be mandatory for people who have contact or potential contact with children to hold a Working with Children Clearance Notice and an Ochre Card.|
SAFE NT administers the clearance procedure which involves an employment and criminal history check. People who have previously had a Criminal History Check to work with children will still be required to apply for the Working with Children Clearance if they work certain specified areas of employment.
For more information on the requirements visit www.workingwithchildren.nt.gov.au or contact SAFE NT on 1800 SAFENT (1800 723 368).
|Queensland||In Queensland people working or volunteering with children need to hold a Blue Card.|
The Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian is responsible for administering and conducting criminal history checks on people who want to work with children to determine whether or not they are eligible to hold a Blue Card.
|South Australia||Under the Children's Protection Act (Section 8B) people in SA who work in jobs which require regular contact with children are required to obtain police clearance before they commence employment.|
A National Police Certificate application form is available from the South Australian Police Department.
|Tasmania||Currently there are no legal requirements for people working with children to undertake a police check in Tasmania, however, organisations which require employees and/or volunteers to work with children may have their own policies in this regard.|
In 2005 the Commissioner for Children Tasmania released a consultation paper discussing proposals for the Government to introduce screening procedures for Tasmanian organisations who want to employ people to work with children.
|Victoria||The Victorian Government has introduced the Working with Children Check, which is compulsory for people who wish to work with or volunteer with children.|
The check seeks to protect children from harm by requiring people to undertake a criminal history check before they start work in an organisation.
|Western Australia||In Western Australia a Working with Children Check is compulsory for people who carry out child-related work in Western Australia.|
The check aims to protect children by deterring people from working with children when they have criminal records that indicate they may harm children; and by preventing people with such records from gaining positions of trust in paid and voluntary work with children.
Remember that many organisations have internal policies which require employees to undergo background checks as it protects both the children and the organisation from future problems. It is worth asking about these checking policies and procedures when you start hunting for a child care centre for your child or with the agency you have engaged.