The Screening Unit conducts five types of screening assessment.
A person's screening depends on the work they will perform and the setting in which they will be working or volunteering.
There is no legislative requirement for the following types of screening. A decision as to what type of screening is required is made by the employing organisation.
Following the steps below will help organisations to determine what type of screening is required.
An organisation can conduct its own assessment, except where Disability Services Sector Screening is required, in which case, the screening assessment must be conducted by the Screening Unit.
Screening checks by the Screening Unit involves a risk assessment specifically focused on the applicant’s risk in relation to a particular work or volunteer role.
There is no such risk assessment with National Police Certificate which is simply a record of the applicant’s criminal conviction history.
A list of what is assessed under each type of screening in the Comparison of key features of types of screening check (PDF 200.4 KB) PDF Document
The DHS Screening Unit offers five types of screening checks. All types are free for volunteers, no matter how many of the five types are required:
The process for applying for a screening check has not changed. It is up to the organisation to decide if a volunteer needs a DHS screening check.
Organisation can start an application for a volunteer screening check (and manage all of their applications) through the Screening Unit’s online application portal.
After an organisation starts a new application, the volunteer receives an email with a link to the Screening Unit website to provide the details needed to complete the application.
Screening applications submitted to the Screening Unit before 1 November used to cost $59.40, paid by either the volunteer or the organisation they’re volunteering for. No refunds are available for applications submitted before 1 November 2018, even if the check is still in progress.
The Screening Unit processes most applications within three weeks but it is recommended that organisations allow up to six weeks for screening to be completed.
When submitting an application, it’s important that all information is correct and relevant, such as all names, nicknames and previous addresses, to help the process run smoothly. Incorrect or incomplete information can slow the process down, as the Screening Unit may need to return the application to the volunteer and ask them to correct and resubmit it.
is required to assess whether a potential employee or volunteer could pose a risk to the safety of children, while working for an organisation offering these services:
Screening can be done by an authorised screening unit, such as the DHS Screening Unit, or organisations can undertake their own criminal history assessments.
A child-related employment screening done by the DHS Screening Unit is valid for three years and is continuously monitored to ensure a person’s clearance remains up-to-date.
On 1 July 2019, the child-related employment screening process is being transitioned to a new working with children check.
The range of information that is assessed includes:
In some cases, information from professional accreditation bodies regarding people disciplined and/or precluded from working with children or vulnerable adults will be taken into account.
The following factors are considered during the assessment process for child-related employment screening:
It is unlikely that an applicant will be considered suitable for employment or volunteering if they are convicted of:
From 1 July 2019, people working or volunteering with children in South Australia must, by law, have a valid child-related clearance.
People need a working with children check if they are in a ‘prescribed position’. This means people who:
A working with children check assesses whether a potential employee or volunteer could pose a risk to the safety of children, based on criminal history and child protection information.
Check the list below for examples of volunteer or paid roles and activities that would foreseeably have contact with children, and therefore require a working with children check. If your role type isn’t in this list and you are not sure if you need a working with children check, please contact us.[ ** RECURSION WARNING ** ]
You don’t need a working with children check if you:
*The seven day exclusion does not apply if you are involved in an overnight activity (e.g. school camp), or have close contact with children with disability
If you don't have a current child-related employment clearance and need one before 1 July 2019, speak to your organisation about how to apply.
After 1 July 2019, you can apply for a new working with children check online yourself.
The new, stronger laws for people working or volunteering with children were recommended as part of federal and South Australian royal commissions, and help keep children safe in our community.
The requirement to have a valid child-related clearance from 1 July 2019, such as a working with children check, is covered by the following legislation:
With the new laws:
It is an offence to:
Offences carry fines of up to $120,000 and/or prison sentences.
Subscribe to the DHS Screening Unit newsletter by emailing email@example.com to stay up-to-date with changes.
Disability services employment screening assesses a person’s relevant history to determine whether they pose a risk of harm to the safety and wellbeing of people with a disability.
An organisation may require its employees, volunteers, agents or contractors to have a disability services sector screening. This is only a requirement if, in the course of their duties, they have:
Disability services employment screening can only be required if the organisation where the person will work or volunteer is:
The Screening Unit is the only screening unit with authorisation to undertake disability services employment screening assessments.
Disability services sector screening involves an assessment of the person's relevant history, including:
A screening clearance letter will be posted to people who have been cleared, confirming that they have been assessed as suitable for work in the disability services sector. The requesting organisation is informed by email.
If the Screening Unit uncovers any relevant history about the person being screened that may prevent them from being assessed as suitable for work in the sector, the Unit will write to that person. The person will have an opportunity to respond by providing relevant information that may affect the outcome of the assessment.
If it is assessed that the person poses a risk to people with disability, the organisation will be informed by email that the person is considered unsuitable for work in the disability sector.
Current service agreements specify that the organisation must not employ or engage a person who has been found unsuitable by the Screening Unit.
It should be noted that the final decision as to whether to engage a person for a particular role is the responsibility of the requesting organisation.
In some circumstances, more than one type of screening may be required.
Aged care sector screening involves assessing whether a potential employee or volunteer may pose a risk of harm to older people when providing aged care services.
Aged care sector screening is required for:
The organisation must be satisfied that the person being assessed does not have:
Organisations providing aged care services do not need to use the services of the Screening Unit, and may conduct their own screening.
Aged care providers must ensure that a person, who at any time after turning 16, has been a citizen or permanent resident of a country other than Australia, has made a statutory declaration stating that they have never been convicted of murder or sexual assault, or convicted of and sentenced to imprisonment for any other form of assault.
assesses a person's criminal conviction history to determine whether they pose a risk of harm to the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable people when working or volunteering with them.
There is no legislative requirement for this type of screening, however, an organisation may require it as a condition of employment.
Vulnerable-person-related screening may be relevant for:
If there is a current clearance for any other type of screening there is no need to have a vulnerable-person-related clearance as well.
The Screening Unit provides a point-in-time assessment of risk, based on the information disclosed to it at the time of screening.
This information may be shared with the employing organisation.
If the Screening Unit assesses that an applicant may pose a risk of harm to vulnerable people, they will contact the applicant to discuss the matter before finalising the assessment.
Applicants have access to a review process in relation to this.
Employer organisations can conduct their own vulnerable-person-related screening.
An employee’s National Police Certificate can be used by the organisation to conduct their own assessment.
General employment probity screening is a point-in-time assessment of a person's criminal conviction history that can assist an employer to determine a person's suitability for employment.
There is no legislative requirement for this type of screening, however an organisation may require it as part of a condition of employment.
If there is a current clearance for another type of screening there is no need for general employment probity clearance as well.
This screening involves a risk assessment of the applicant's relevant criminal history only.
If the Screening Unit assesses information about an applicant that indicates they may pose a risk, the Unit will contact the applicant to discuss the matter before finalising the assessment.
The applicant does not receive a clearance letter, Police Check or details relating to their National Criminal History Record Check.
If the person needs this kind of documentation, they can apply for a National Police Check.
The employer organisation is advised of the screening result by email.
This type of screening check is not generally portable between employer organisations. If the employee or volunteer moves to a new role, even within the same organisation, it may be necessary to have the person re-screened.
Because general employment probity screening is specific to a role, this type of employment clearance is not suitable for agency staff who undertake a variety of roles.
It is recommended that employment agencies direct staff to apply for a National Police Check.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) provides a National Police Checking Service, through which police services and accredited organisations, such as the Screening Unit, can obtain relevant criminal history information.
The information obtained is considered during the screening process to assess the applicant's suitability for employment or appointment to positions of trust.
The screening applicant's details are submitted electronically to the ACIC, for checking against a central database of names (by name, date of birth and gender) to find potential matches with people with relevant criminal records.
If the applicant has no relevant criminal history information, or none that can be released to the Screening Unit, the applicant's result will show as' No Disclosable Court Outcomes'.
Where the applicant's name appears to match a name or names on the central database, this is referred to as a 'name match'. The relevant police agency will manually process the check to determine whether the applicant's details are a match. If the details do not match, the result will come back as 'No Disclosable Court Outcomes'.
If there is a match of the applicant's name against the National Names Index, the ACIC forwards the applicant's details to the relevant police jurisdiction for further checking.
If criminal history results are located for the applicant, the relevant police jurisdictions will identify and release criminal history information (subject to relevant spent conviction legislation, non-disclosure and/or information release policies, which vary from state to state). The ACIC receives the results and forwards this information on to the Screening Unit for assessment.
If the applicant has police history information that can be released to the Screening Unit, their result will be shown as 'Disclosable Court Outcome(s)'. The applicant's disclosable police history information will be listed on the result and may include:
The type of police history information that is released depends on the purpose/type of check being conducted, and any relevant spent convictions legislation and information release policies.
As there may be more than one person with the same, or similar, names, any name matches at this stage need further checking. This is done using any additional details such as the applicant’s current or previous addresses or date of birth, to confirm or rule out the apparent match. Most name matches are ruled out based on this additional information.
For more information about the ACIC and the services it provides, the visit the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission website.
The following organisations may have access to your relevant criminal history check result obtained by the Screening Unit:
All criminal history information provided to the Screening Unit by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) is destroyed within three (3) months following the completion of the assessment.
All information provided in your application, and any further information received by the Screening Unit, will be treated confidentially and with the utmost regard to individual privacy.
The information will not be used without your prior consent for any purpose other than as set out in the Informed Consent section of the application form, or unless required by law.
All information received as a part of the assessment process is stored securely in the Screening Unit.
A National Police Certificate (Police Check) provides a summary of a person’s offender history in Australia and a record of their criminal history relating to convictions, finding of guilt or pending court proceedings.
A Police Check allows an organisation to undertake its own employee and volunteer criminal history assessment.
A Police Check is not always sufficient. In some circumstances, a particular type of screening is necessary in order to comply with legislation or regulation.
Police Checks are available through:
Police Checks may be provided free of charge to volunteers at qualifying charitable organisations.
To be eligible for the free checks, an organisation:
Free checks are not available to paid employees of a volunteer organisation.
The Screening Unit is not part of the VOAN Scheme, and therefore a fee is charged for all screening services it provides.
More information is available on the SA Police website - Volunteer Organisation Number
The information assessed by the Screening Unit depends on the type of screening being conducted.
Each check involves obtaining a national criminal history record check but some types of screening take into account additional sources of information.
In some cases, legislative requirements determine the type of screening required and therefore the information assessed in a particular case.
Criminal convictions only.
Criminal convictions only.
Criminal convictions and an assessment of relevant criminal history to identify any precluding offences such as murder, sexual assault or an assault for which a sentence of imprisonment was imposed.
Disability services sector screening involves a national criminal history record check, and:
Child-related employment screening involves a national criminal history record check, and an assessment of information from SA Police and other Australian jurisdictions regarding alleged offences, regardless of outcome, including:
It involves the consideration of factors such as:
An offence that occurred a long time ago (for example, more than 10 years ago) might be considered to be 'spent', and will not be included in a criminal history report considered by the Screening Unit (unless the category of employment, or purpose of the screening application is considered exempt from the workings of any applicable Spent Convictions scheme).
More information, Spent Convictions Schemes Fact Sheet (PDF 179.6 KB)
For child-related employment screening, the Screening Unit can access and take into account spent convictions information from sources Australia-wide. This capability is provided through an inter-governmental agreement for the National Exchange of Criminal History Information for People Working with Children (ECHIPWC).
If you believe that due process was not followed in an assessment decision made by the Screening Unit you can apply to have that decision reviewed by the Unit.
A review will look at the information collected for your initial assessment, and any new or additional information you provide with your application for review.
The Screening Unit will only review your assessment if you can provide substantive (important) reasons to do so.
Substantive reasons for a request for a review may include, but are not limited to:
To apply for an internal review, contact the Screening Unit:
Phone: 1300 321 592
The Screening Unit does not retain a person's National Criminal History Record Check (NCHRC) for more than three (3) months after the finalisation of an assessment.
If you apply for an internal review more than three months after your initial application, the Screening Unit may contact you seeking your consent to obtain another copy of your NCHRC. This may cost a fee, but will ensure that your check is as up-to-date as possible.
If you are not happy with the results of the internal review, you can ask to have your application reviewed externally.
The Screening Unit processes most applications within 3 weeks.
However, it can take longer than this, depending on the relevance, complexity and amount of background information identified during the screening process.
You should receive a clearance within 3 weeks for a straightforward check. If your name registers as a match in any of the databases assessed by the Screening Unit, or there is relevant criminal history for you, processing the application may take longer.
Other factors affecting time taken for screening applications:
To make sure the screening check is processed as quickly as possible, be sure to provide complete and accurate personal information and role-related information in your application.
We recommend you allow as much time as possible for a screening check to be completed. You can start a screening application up to 6 months before your current clearance expires.