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Changes ahead for Working with Children Checks


Golden Plains residents are being urged to consider applying for a Working with Children (WWC) Check ahead of new rules coming into effect from 1 August 2017.


Under the changes, more Victorians will need to have a valid WWC Check to engage in child-related work, including people volunteering at local schools, sporting clubs or other community organisations.

The changes will implement key recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to improve working with children regimes across Australia.

The changes will remove the element of supervision from the definition of ‘child-related work’ to ensure that WWC Checks are required regardless of whether the person’s contact with a child is supervised or not.

Currently, a person does not require a WWC Check if their contact with children is supervised. 

For example, an assistant coach of a junior sports team does not currently need a WWC Check if their contact with children is directly supervised by the head coach.

From 1 August 2017, the assistant coach will need a WWC Check, regardless of whether their contact with children is supervised by the head coach.  

Additionally, parents who volunteer at school canteens or on stalls at school fetes will also need a WWC Check from 1 August 2017. 

The reforms will also expand the definition of ‘direct contact’ to include oral, written or electronic communication. 

Department of Justice and Regulation Deputy Secretary Ryan Phillips said 3927 people in the Golden Plains LGA already hold current WWC Check cards and urged people to consider applying now before the changes come into effect.

“We’re encouraging people who want to engage in child-related work to start applying for their WWC Check now to ensure that they can continue to participate in their community as volunteers, or in sporting or educational activities with children, after the changes come into effect,” Mr Phillips said.

“We’re also advising people who already undertake child-related work as a paid employee or volunteer, to start talking to their organisations now so they know what will be required from 1 August 2017.”

“If the changes impact on your paid or volunteer work, the best way to guarantee that you are ready for the changes is to make an application now so you have a valid WWC Check card well in advance,” he said. 

WWC Check applications can be made online at www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au and are free for volunteers. 

WWC Checks were first introduced in Victoria in April 2006 and more than 2.14 million checks have been issued during the past 11 years.

Fact sheet 1 About WWC Children Checks 
WWC Checks

•  WWC Checks help to protect children from sexual or physical harm by ensuring that people who work with, or care for, them are subject to a rigorous screening process

•  They were first introduced in Victoria in April 2006 and more than 2.14 million checks have been issued during the past 11 years

Volunteers
•  WWC Check applications and renewals are free for volunteers and can be made online at www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au 

•  Applications can take three to five weeks, or longer if the person has a common name. This allows sufficient time to conduct a national criminal records check. 

•  When an application returns a criminal record, the Department of Justice and Regulation will assess the person’s eligibility to hold a WWC Check. In this instance, the above timeline does not apply 

•  WWC Check cards are valid for five years

•  The Department of Justice and Regulation monitors the criminal records of all WWC Check cardholders

•  This ensures that valid WWC Checks can be revoked when circumstances change, including when a person is charged with, or convicted of having committed a sexual, violent, or serious drug related offence.

Penalties
•  Engaging in child-related work without a WWC Check is a criminal offence and carries a penalty of two years imprisonment, a $37,310 fine, or both

•  It is also a criminal offence for organisations to engage, or continue to engage, people in child-related work if they do not hold a valid WWC Check 

•  The penalty for organisations include two years imprisonment for an individual, a $37,310 fine, or both 

•  Additionally, the organisation may also be subject to a $186,552 fine.

Definitions 
•  Child-related work is defined as work involving direct contact with a child, and where the contact is required as a part of that person’s duties. Work that involves only occasional contact with a child, and where the contact is incidental to the person’s duties, is not considered child-related work 

•  Direct contact is defined as having face to face or physical contact with a child. However, this definition will be expanded from 1 August to include oral, written or electronic communication. 

Further information
•  Further information about WWC Checks, including how to apply is available at www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au