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Screening Unit
Screening Unit

Frequently asked questions

About the changes

Why make a different check for working or volunteering with children?

The Working with Children Check was introduced to help keep children safe in our communities. The change is part of the Government of South Australia’s response to recommendations from the Commonwealth Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the South Australian Child Protection Systems Royal Commission (also known as the Nyland Report).

Is a Working with Children Check different from a police check?

Yes. A police check is a point-in-time summary of your Australian criminal history and includes national convictions and certain types of spent convictions. A Working with Children Check is more detailed. It includes:
  • national convictions – withdrawn, spent, non-convictions
  • national charges – pending, withdrawn, dismissed, acquitted
  • information from South Australian government agencies related to care concerns and investigations.

Five years is a long time to be 'not prohibited' from working with children. What if someone gets a check then does something wrong?

Although Working with Children Checks are valid for five years, the DHS Screening Unit continuously monitors them. If new information about a person means they pose a risk to children's safety, that person’s check will be re-assessed and, if necessary, they will be prohibited from working with children. The DHS Screening Unit will inform both the person affected and any organisations they're linked to about the change in status.

What is a prescribed position?

People who work in a prescribed position require a Working with Children Check. Prescribed positions include both:
  • a number of positions that are set out in the Prohibited Persons Regulations
  • positions in which a person works, or in the ordinary course of his or her duties, it is reasonably foreseeable that a person in that position will work, with children.
Learn more about who needs a Working with Children Check.

How long does it take to get a check?

Most screening applications are finalised within three weeks. It can take longer if there is a lot of background information to assess or the information is complex. The DHS Screening Unit recommends allowing at least six weeks to process an application. Find out more about the check process.

Who needs a check?

If you already have a current check, do you have to get a new one?

It depends on the sort of check you have.

You can use your current, valid DHS/DCSI child-related employment screening until it expires. When it is time to renew, you must apply for a Working with Children Check (up to six months before your current screening expires).

If you have a National Police Certificate assessed by your organisation and use it to work or volunteer with children, you have until 1 July 2020 to get a Working with Children Check.

If you are a sole trader, working in partnership, contractor, or self-employed, a National Police Certificate is not a valid check for working with children. You can apply for a Working with Children Check. While you are waiting for the DHS Screening Unit to complete your check and tell you the result, you are not legally allowed to work or volunteer with children.

Emergency services workers (such as SAMFS, SASES, SACFS and SAAS) have until 1 July 2022 to get a Working with Children Check.

Do you need a Working with Children Check to work with children?

According to the law, from 1 July 2019 it is an offence:

  • for a person to work or volunteer with children without a Working with Children Check
  • for a person to work or volunteer with children if you are 'prohibited from working with children'
  • to employ a person or a volunteer to work with children if they don't have a valid Working with Children Check or are 'prohibited from working with children'.

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

Do you need a Working with Children Check to take care of your own children?

No. The check does not apply to parents or guardians caring for their own children. It only applies to people who want to work or volunteer with children.

From what age do you need a check?

The Working with Children Check applies to people aged 14 and over.

If you manage or work in a business that employs children, does everyone working there need a Working with Children Check?

If you are working alongside, or supervising, a child in a workplace where the work is not child-related, you may not need a Working with Children Check.

If an adult works alongside or supervises a child (for example, a 16-year-old) at a local fast food outlet or supermarket, the adult will not require a Working with Children Check, because working at a fast food outlet or a supermarket is not child-related work.

If an adult works alongside or supervises a child (for example, a 16-year-old) at a local childcare centre or a crèche at a local gym, the adult will require a Working with Children Check, because working at a childcare centre or crèche is child-related work.

Can parents or guardians volunteer at their child's school without a Working with Children Check?

You will not need a Working with Children Check if:

  • you are a parent or guardian volunteering with your own child (for example, at school) and
  • you do not have close personal contact with other children or take part in an organised overnight event (such as a school camp).

However, your school may still require that parents or guardians obtain a Working with Children Check. Check with your school.

Do people doing work experience need a Working with Children Check?

If the job involves child-related work, and the person doing work experience is over the age of 14 or is working with children for more than seven days in a calendar year, they will need a Working with Children Check.

Secondary students doing work experience as part of their study can apply for a free Working with Children Check, as used by volunteers.

Tertiary students may be eligible for a discounted rate – see fees and payments for more information.

I represent an organisation; do my paid employees or volunteers require a Working with Children Check?

Your organisations paid employees or volunteers may require a Working with Children Check if they work in a prescribed position.

An employer must no employ, or continue to employ, a person to a prescribed position unless both:

  • they have verified that the person has had a Working with Children Check conducted in the preceding 5 years
  • that the person is not prohibited from working with children.

Employers who do not comply with these requirements are guilty of an offence.

How do I know if I work with children more than seven days in a calendar year?

A day of work is any shift, no matter how long, that starts on a calendar day. For example, a shift from 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm is one day of work.

If a single shift crosses midnight, it will be treated as only one day. For example, a shift from 6.00 pm to 6.00 am the following morning is one day of work.

State Government of South Australia © Copyright DHS[sm v5.4.7.1] .

Last updated:[06 Jun 2019 7:58am]

Provided by:
SA Department for Human Services
URL:
https://screening.sa.gov.au/types-of-check/new-working-with-children-checks/frequently-asked-questions
Last Updated:
05 Jul 2018
Printed on:
12 Nov 2019
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