Working with Children Check – Employee and Volunteer Obligations
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Do you need to comply?
Possibly – it will depend on your employment or volunteer status.
Conditions of compliance
If your work usually involves (or is likely to involve) direct contact with a child where that contact is not directly supervised and is part of your duties, then you will need to apply for a Working with Children (WWC) Check. You must pass a WWC Check to be eligible to work or volunteer in child-related work (unless an exemption applies).
Child-related work is an activity undertaken in any of the services, bodies or places referred to in the Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic) (the Act) as ‘occupational categories’. Educational institutions are listed as one of the occupational categories.
You do need a WWC Check if you meet ALL six criteria listed below.
1. You are an adult working with under 18 year olds.
2. You are working as one of the following:
- an employee
- a self-employed person or an independent contractor
- a volunteer
- a supervisor of child employees (where the child is under 15 years of age) pursuant to the Child Employment Act 2003
- a participant in practical training through an educational or vocational course
- a participant in unpaid community work under a court order
- an officer of a body corporate
- a member of a committee of management of an unincorporated body
- a member of a partnership
- a minister of religion or someone performing duties of a religious vocation.
3. You are working in any of the occupational fields listed in the Act.
4. Your work involves direct contact with children, which means you are able to talk face-to-face or have physical contact with children.
5. Your contact with children is part of your duties, i.e., not incidental to your work.
6. Your contact with children is not directly supervised by another person.
Direct supervision means immediate and personal supervision. It is possible for the person supervising the contact with children to leave the room briefly for example to take a telephone call.
If you fall into any of the following categories, you do not need a WWC Check, even if you come into contact with children in the course of your work. You do not need a WWC Check if you are:
- under the age of 18 years
- a parent volunteer whose child ordinarily participates in the activity
- a sworn Victorian or Federal police officer who has not been suspended from duty or dismissed
- a teacher who has current registration with the Victorian Institute of Teaching
- closely related to each child you have contact with in your child-related work
- an 18 or 19 year old student volunteer where your volunteer work is at or has been organised by your educational institution
- a visiting worker who does not ordinarily reside in, and perform child-related work, in Victoria, for a period of up to 30 days in the same calendar year:
- over several events or occasions if the person has a WWC Check from the Australian State/Territory in which the person lives; or
- for one event or on one occasion.
Note: If an exemption applies to you – for example, you volunteer in an activity in which your child participates – but you also perform other child-related work, you may still require a WWC Check. For example, if you volunteer in your child’s sporting activity and you also work as a childcare worker, you will require a WWC Check as a childcare worker if your work requires direct contact with a child, the direct contact is part of your duties and is not directly supervised.
If you have to comply, what do you have to do?
As an employee or volunteer you must:
- determine whether you require a WWC Check
- if required, apply for a WWC Check prior to commencing employment or providing volunteer services. Provide true and correct information on your application form
- show your Application Receipt to your employer or volunteer organisation upon commencing employment or providing volunteer services as evidence that you have submitted an application. While you are not prevented from commencing child-related work before passing the WWC Check, some employers or volunteer organisations may require that you have passed the WWC Check before you can commence work with them. The Act defines which applicants can work with children whilst they are being screened and assessed and which applicants must not work
Note: For example, a person, who is not a registered teacher with the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) and who has applied for a WWC Check to undertake work regulated by the Education and Care Services National Law 2010 (Vic), is not permitted to undertake child-related work during the application and screening process. The person must have a completed the WWC Check and have been granted an Assessment Notice before the person may undertake work in an early learning centre.
- if issued with an Assessment Notice or WWC Check Card, present your Assessment Notice or WWC Check Card to your employer, agency or volunteer organisation on request or when applying for child-related work
- not use your Volunteer Assessment Notice and Card for work which is for profit or gain. If you are a volunteer, and wish to work for profit or gain in child-related work, then you need to reapply for an Employee Assessment Notice in order to avoid penalties
- inform the Secretary of the Department of Justice, and your employer, agency or volunteer organisation if you have a relevant change in circumstances, for example, if you have been charged or found guilty of a new relevant offence
- surrender documents as required, if the Secretary of the Department of Justice cancels your Assessment Notice
- inform your employer, agency or volunteer organisation within seven days if you have been issued with an Interim Negative Notice or Negative Notice
- not engage in child-related work if you have been issued with a Negative Notice
- not reapply for a WWC Check for five years after a Negative Notice has been issued, unless there has been a relevant change in your circumstances.
As an employee or volunteer you should:
- keep your Assessment Notice and WWC Check Card in a safe and secure place
- not give your WWC Check Card to anyone else
- apply for a new WWC Check before it expires. WWC Check Cards are valid for five years. You may apply for a new Assessment Notice six months before the expiry date on your WWC Check Card. It is an offence to continue working with children if your WWC check has expired.
- return your Assessment Notice and WWC Check Card if your Assessment Notice has been expired for more than three months and the Department of Justice requests that you return them. There are penalties if you do not return your Assessment Notice and WWC Check Card when required, without a reasonable excuse.
Note that the Department of Justice will notify your employer, agency or volunteer organisation if you have been issued with an Assessment Notice, Interim Negative Notice or Negative Notice, or if you have been asked to return your Assessment Notice and WWC Check Card.
As an employer you must:
- not allow a person (refer to Note below) to commence employment without providing the Application Receipt, which verifies that the person has applied for a WWC Check. If preferred, you may require the person to provide an Assessment Notice before commencing employment. This requirement may delay the commencement date of employment.
- not allow a person (refer to Note below), who is required by law to undertake a WCC Check, to volunteer their services without providing the Application Receipt, which verifies that the person has applied for a WWC Check. If preferred, you may require the person to provide an Assessment Notice before accepting their services. This requirement will delay the provision of volunteer services.
- where your employees or volunteers are not required to apply for a WWC Check because their contact with children is directly supervised, ensure that the supervisor has applied for and passed the WWC Check unless an exemption applies (for example, the supervisor will not be required to apply for a WWC Check if he or she is a teacher with current registration with the Victorian Institute of Teaching).
- ensure that employees or volunteers who are given a Negative Notice do not undertake ‘child-related work’, even if directly supervised
- ensure that your employees are not undertaking ‘child-related work’ with a ‘volunteer’ Assessment Notice and WWC Check Card; employees must apply for an ‘employee’ Assessment Notice and WWC Check Card
- ensure that the employees or volunteers who hold only an Application Receipt, and who are not permitted to work during the screening and application process, do not work
- ensure you comply with obligations to keep employees’ and volunteers’ information confidential as required under the Act and by any other relevant laws.
Note: The Act requires that some applicants, including a person (other than a VIT-registered teacher) applying for work (including volunteer work) in an early learning centre, must not commence work until the person has passed the WWC Check.
As an employer, you should:
- record your employees’ and volunteers’ unique Application Receipt Number (received when they lodge their application)
- confirm that your employees and volunteers have passed the WWC Check
- sight your employees’ and volunteers’ WWC Check card as evidence that they have passed the WWC Check
- record your employees’ and volunteers’ WWC Check Number, which is different from their Application Receipt Number
- if you engage a self-employed person who is required to pass the WWC Check, you should sight the person’s WWC Check card
- develop internal processes to be followed in the event of an existing employee or volunteer being given an Interim Negative Notice or Negative Notice.
What are the consequences if you don’t comply?
The Act includes a number of offences. Employers, employees and volunteers should be aware of the penalties associated with these offences. A list of both individual offences and organisational offences can be downloaded here .
Who will help you?
Independent Schools Victoria contact:
Director, Strategic Relations
Ph. 03 9825 7210
Links and Resources
Department of Justice: Working with Children website