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Screening Checks

Screening Checks
Screening Checks

Screening Process

Types of Screening Checks

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.

Screening mandated by legislation

Screening not mandated by legislation

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.

Determining what type of screening is required

Following the steps below will help organisations to determine what type of screening is required.

  1. Job role: Refer to the list of duties that are part of the work or volunteer role.
  2. Nature of the workplace: Consider the nature of the workplace and the groups of people with whom the employee or volunteer will have contact
  3. Check against the legislation: Check the list of duties against the legislation to determine whether screening is required, and if so, what type.
  4. Consider whether more than one type of screening is required: This flow chart (PDF 179.9 KB) poses key questions and guides you through this process.  Refer to the relevant regulations to determine whether an exemption applies.
  5. If screening is not required by legislation: Consider your organisation’s policies or contractual obligations.
  6. Will a Police Check suffice? In some cases a National Police Certificate from SA Police may meet your organisation's requirements and/or if documentation of the person's criminal history is required.
  7. Is there a current clearance? If the person has a current clearance with six or more months left, they do not need to be rescreened. Send renewal applications when the applicant has six months or less left to go on their current clearance.

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 Unit Check versus a National Police Certificate

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

Volunteer Screening

Volunteer Screening

DHS screening checks are free for South Australian volunteers

Types of screening checks

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:

  • Child related employment screening
  • Disability services employment screening
  • Vulnerable person-related employment screening
  • Aged care sector employment screening
  • General employment probity screening.

Applying for a screening check

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.

Processing times

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.

For more information

To stay informed about these changes, follow the Department of Human Services on FacebookTwitter or Instagram or check back here.

Child-related employment screening

Child-related employment screening

Child-related employment screening 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:

  • health
  • child and family welfare
  • education
  • sporting or recreational
  • religious or spiritual instruction
  • child care and child protection
  • cultural
  • entertainment
  • residential.

Conducting child-related employment screening

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.

Information assessed as part of a child-related employment screening

The range of information that is assessed includes:

  • a national criminal history check
  • information from South Australian government databases, such as SA child protection records from Families SA (Department of Education and Child Development) and Care Concern investigations (by DHS or DECD) into the welfare of children in foster or state care
  • publicly available information from professional registration bodies relating to persons disciplined or precluded from working with children or vulnerable people
  • information from South Australian police, courts, and prosecuting authorities including information about charges for offences alleged to have been committed (regardless of the outcome of those charges)
  • expanded criminal history information from other Australian police jurisdictions, and
  • any declarations made by the applicant in response to questions in the 'declaration' section of their screening application form.

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.

Factors considered in the assessment

The following factors are considered during the assessment process for child-related employment screening:

  • the nature of and circumstances surrounding the offence
  • the presence of a pattern of offending (if any)
  • time elapsed since the offence was committed
  • severity of a court-imposed penalty
  • the age and vulnerability of the victim
  • the relationship to the victim and age difference
  • applicant's own age at the time of the offence
  • whether a child played a part in committing the offence (either directly or indirectly)
  • relevance of the offence to the role of the applicant
  • the applicant's conduct since the time of the offence.

It is unlikely that an applicant will be considered suitable for employment or volunteering if they are convicted of:

  • murder
  • sexual assault
  • an offence involving child pornography, child prostitution or child abuse, for example, criminal neglect.

Related information

New working with children checks

New working with children checks

From 1 July 2019, people working or volunteering with children in South Australia must, by law, have a valid child-related clearance.

Do you have a current check?

Who needs a working with children check from 1 July 2019?

People need a working with children check if they are in a ‘prescribed position’. This means people who:

  • are in paid or volunteering roles where it is reasonably foreseeable that they will work with children
  • run or manage a business where the employees or volunteers work with children
  • are employed to provide preschool, primary or secondary education to a child.

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.

Is your role affected?

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.

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Excluded people

You don’t need a working with children check if you:

  • work for SA Police or the Australian Federal Police
  • employ or supervise children in a workplace, unless the work is child-related (e.g. you manage a fast food restaurant that employs people under 18)
  • work in the same capacity as a child (e.g. you work at a checkout in a supermarket that also hires people under 18 in the same type of role)
  • don’t think you will work with children for more than seven days (consecutive or not) in a calendar year*
  • are a parent or guardian volunteering with your own child (e.g. at school) and do not have close personal contact with other children, or participate in an organised overnight event (e.g. a school camp)
  • live interstate, have a current child-related check from your home state, and are working at an organised event in South Australia lasting no more than 10 consecutive days
  • are under the age of 14.

*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

Apply for a check

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.

Child safety laws

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:

  • only the South Australian DHS Screening Unit can do a working with children check (organisations can no longer do their own background screening of workers and volunteers)
  • some work-types that didn't require checks to work with children under the old laws now have to have a working with children check
  • individuals can do their own application for a new working with children check, which helps make people job-ready
  • new working with children checks are portable between roles and jobs across South Australia
  • the new working with children checks are valid for five years and are continuously monitored.

It is an offence to:

  • work or volunteer in a child-related role without a working with children check
  • work or volunteer in a child-related role if you are 'prohibited from working with children'
  • employ a person or volunteer for a child-related role who doesn’t have a valid working with children check, or is prohibited from working with children.

Offences carry fines of up to $120,000 and/or prison sentences.

Keep up-to-date

Subscribe to the DHS Screening Unit newsletter by emailing to stay up-to-date with changes.

Related information

Disability services employment screening

Disability services employment screening

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.

Requirement for disability services employment screening

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:

  • regular unsupervised contact or close proximity to people with disability
  • supervision or management of people whose roles require regular contact or close proximity to people with disability
  • access to records relating to people with disability
  • providing overnight care to a person with disability that involves sleeping arrangements, whether short-term or ongoing.

Disability services employment screening can only be required if the organisation where the person will work or volunteer is:

Conducting disability services sector screening

The  Screening Unit is the only screening unit with authorisation to undertake disability services employment screening assessments.

Information assessed as part of disability services sector screening

Disability services sector screening involves an assessment of the person's relevant history, including:

  • findings of guilt by a court
  • charges for an offence (including pending charges) regardless of the outcome
  • convictions that would otherwise be considered spent
  • information held by government and non-government agencies, including human resources information about allegations of workplace misconduct
  • information about care concern investigations
  • child protection information.

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.

Communicating the outcome of disability services sector screening

Procedural fairness

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.

Requirement for more than one type of screening

In some circumstances, more than one type of screening may be required.

Working with children

  • If the role involves working with both children and adults with disability; both a disability services sector clearance and a child-related employment screening clearance may be required.
  • If the role involves working in the disability sector AND working with children BUT NOT adults with disability, only a child-related employment assessment is required.

Related information

Aged care sector screening

Aged care sector screening

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.

Requirement for aged care sector screening

Aged care sector screening is required for:

  • key organisational personnel in Commonwealth-funded aged care services
  • employees and contractors providing care (including staff employed, hired, retained or contracted to provide services, whether in a residential aged care setting, community setting or in the service recipient's own home)
  • allied health professionals contracted to provide care services
  • kitchen, cleaning, laundry, garden and office personnel employed by the service provider either directly or through a contract agency, and
  • consultants, trainers and advisors of the provider.

The organisation must be satisfied that the person being assessed does not have:

  • a conviction for murder or sexual assault
  • a conviction of, and sentence to imprisonment for, any other form of assault
  • other criminal history offences.

Conducting aged care screening

Organisations providing aged care services do not need to use the services of the  Screening Unit, and may conduct their own screening.

Statutory Declaration for citizens or residents of a country other than Australia

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.

Related information

Vulnerable-person-related employment screening

Vulnerable-person-related employment screening

Vulnerable-person-related employment screening 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.

Requirement for vulnerable-person-related screening

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:

  • information and communication technology (ICT) employees who may have access to files regarding vulnerable people
  • volunteers in aged care facilities
  • health and allied health professionals.

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.

Assessment for vulnerable-person-related screening

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.

Conducting vulnerable-person-related screening

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

General employment probity screening

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.

Requirement for general employment probity screening

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.

Assessment for general employment probity screening

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.

Notification of outcome

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.

Employment agencies

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.

Related information

General Employment Probity Screening (PDF 157.9 KB)

Obtaining criminal history information

Obtaining criminal history information

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.

Name search

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.

No name match

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'.

Potential name match

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:

  • charges
  • court convictions, including penalties and sentences
  • findings of guilt with no conviction
  • court appearances
  • good behaviour bonds or other court orders
  • matters awaiting court hearing
  • traffic offences.

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.

Name verification

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.

Access to criminal history information

The following organisations may have access to your relevant criminal history check result obtained by the  Screening Unit:

  • authorised staff of the  Screening Unit who assess the screening application
  • the Authorised Officer at the requesting organisation (your employer/volunteer organisation)
  • a third party organisation (only with your explicit consent or as required by relevant legislation).

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.

National Police Certificate

National Police Certificate

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.

Applying for a Police Check

Police Checks are available through:

Fees for a Police Check

Police Checks may be provided free of charge to volunteers at qualifying charitable organisations.

To be eligible for the free checks, an organisation:

  • must provide a charity or community service, and
  • must have a Volunteer Organisation Authorisation Number (VOAN).

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

Information assessed

Information assessed

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.

General employment probity

Criminal convictions only.

Vulnerable person employment screening

Criminal convictions only.

Aged care sector screening

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

Disability services sector screening involves a national criminal history record check, and:

  • An assessment of all convictions information and charges, regardless of the outcome of those charges, for example including those that would otherwise be considered 'spent'
  • Information from the Courts Administration Authority
  • Workplace records that are relevant to working with people with disability, such as:
    • professional misconduct and disciplinary action taken against, or attempted to be taken against an applicant)
    • allegations of abuse in disability employment in some government agencies and all non-government disability service providers as well as licensing authorities of supported residential facilities.

Child-related employment screening

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:

  • pending charges
  • findings of guilt as well as non-conviction charges
  • circumstantial information relating to charges and convictions
  • spent convictions
  • information sourced from professional registration bodies
  • child-protection information.

It involves the consideration of factors such as:

  • the context and circumstances of any offending
  • the seriousness and relevance of any conviction(s)
  • the level of unsupervised access the person will have to children in the work or volunteer role, and
  • the length of time that has lapsed since any conviction.

Spent convictions

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)

Exemption based on type of screening

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).

Related information

Appealing a screening decision

Appealing a screening decision

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 screening decision review

Substantive reasons for a request for a review may include, but are not limited to:

  • new or additional information to the Screening Unit that might affect the outcome of the assessment
  • you believe that information provided by you as part of your initial assessment was not fully or properly taken into account
  • you can demonstrate that information considered as part of your initial assessment was information that the Screening Unit was not permitted to access or incorporate in your assessment, and/or
  • you believe that irrelevant information was considered by the Screening Unit as part of your initial assessment.

To apply for an internal review, contact the Screening Unit:

Phone: 1300 321 592

Retaining criminal history information

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.

Further avenues of appeal

If you are not happy with the results of the internal review, you can ask to have your application reviewed externally.

Government bodies that might be able to assist you include the Ombudsman SA and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

How long does screening take?

How long does screening take?

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:

  • the time of year (January to April is usually the busiest time of year for the Screening Unit);
  • the length of time taken to obtain relevant information from other agencies across Australia, including police agencies.

We will keep you up-to-date as your application progresses. Alternatively, you can check the progress of an application’s status at any time as a registered organisation or an applicant.

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.

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Last updated:10 Apr 2019 12:04pm

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Last Updated:
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