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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Children and vulnerable people and your duty of care

Maralyn Kastel - Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Part of a business's legal requirements may include the need for background checks if your business works with children (and in many cases other vulnerable people). This includes businesses that coordinate or use volunteers in their activities.

As a PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) these checks are just a small, but important part of your duty of care under the WHS legislation.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies - Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) at this link -CFCA - provides comprehensive information and links to other resources that may provide helpful details.

At the present Australia does not have a national framework for background checks, rather each territory and state has their own requirements to fulfill depending on the jurisdiction within which the worker or volunteer is working. Generally the volunteer or worker covers their background check cost so it is easy for them to carry with them if they move to a different organisation. Below is a brief summary of the legislative jurisdictions:

  • Australian Capital Territory (ACT) - Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Bill 2011- Bill Info - requires individuals engaged in specific services or activities be registered
  • Western Australia (WA) - Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 (WA) - Bill Info - requires a Working With Children Check that is valid for three years.
  • New South Whales (NSW) - Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 (NSW) - Bill Info - is a Working With Children Check that came into effect 15 June 2013 and is valid for five years.
  • Victoria (Vic.) - Working With Children Act 2005 (Vic.) - Bill Info - requires a Working With Children Check valid for five years. 
  • Northern Territory (NT) - Care and Protection of Children Act 2007 (NT) - Bill Info - is a Working With Children Check that is known as an "Ochre Card" valid for two years.
  • Tasmania (TAS) - Education and Care Services National Law (Application) Act 2011 (Tas.) - Bill Info - is a Good Character Check screening program that came into force 1 January 2012.
  • Queensland (QLD) - Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian Act 2000 (Qld) - Bill Info - is a Working With Children Check known as a "Blue Card" valid for two years.
  • South Australia (SA) - Children's Protection Act 1993 (SA) - Bill Info - is an employer driven system requiring responsible authorities and employers to obtain National Police Checks, including wider screening assessment for those engaging in child-related volunteering or occupations.

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