“All care, no responsibility” might be a common catchphrase, but when it comes to child care, this approach just doesn’t cut it.
Care and responsibility are equally important when you’re leaving your child in the hands of another and Working with Children Checks (or WWCCs) help to ensure your kiddo is kept safe and their care-givers are the right people for the job.
Child care workers (and others) must be checked and cleared before they can launch into looking after kids, and every state and territory has its own laws in place to screen adults and protect kids.
WWCCs assess the level of risk a person poses to children’s safety (instead of just checking their criminal record), and here’s how these checks work around the nation:
New South Wales
In NSW, adults who are in contact with children as a usual part of their work have to get a WWCC, plus a Police Check.
The Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) conducts WWCCs and they look at a person’s national criminal history, findings of workplace misconduct, and ‘any other matters deemed relevant to the safety of children.’
Sometimes, a risk assessment has to be conducted before a person is cleared to work with kids. Other times, they’re automatically barred from doing so.
The OCG also has to be satisfied that it’s in the public interest to grant the WWCC and that a reasonable person would allow their child to have direct contact with the worker, without direct supervision.
Once granted, the WWCC certification is valid for five years, and employers have to verify that their people have had a WWCC (or applied for one).
People in child-related occupations, including workers at education and care services, and nannies, au pairs and babysitters employed by an agency or family, must have a Blue Card.
This is Queensland’s WWCC and it involves screening, monitoring and risk management strategies to ensure safe environments for children.
The Blue Card Check looks at national criminal history, plus things like child protection prohibition orders and disciplinary information from child care services. Some offences will disqualify a worker from getting a Blue Card, and workers also need to get Police Check.
The Blue Card certification is valid for three years, and it must be valid for a person to work with kids (it can’t have expired).
People’s police information is monitored on an ongoing basis, and the government will take immediate action if they’re worried about someone who’s working with kids.
The WWCC screens people who work with, or care for, kids.
The check looks at criminal history and relevant professional conduct findings, and also takes into account whether the worker has been excluded from child-related work in the past or in another state/territory.
Once they’re given clearance, the certification is valid for five years, and it’s against the law to employ a person in child-related work without a valid WWC Clearance Check.
The WWCC includes a National Police Check, so a separate Police Check isn’t needed, unless the employer wants to screen for a different kind of offence, like fraud.
People working with children are legally obliged to get a WWCC. In other parts of Australia, individuals have to apply for the WWCC, but in South Australia, this check can be initiated by the worker or by their employer on their behalf.
The check looks into their criminal history and information around things like Care Concern investigations and child protection matters.
The WWCC is an assessment of whether a person poses an unacceptable risk to children, and some employers require a Police Check as well.
The WWCC is valid for five years, and people mustn’t work with children unless they’ve had a South Australian WWCC done in the previous five years. A valid DHS/DCSI child-related employment check is recognised as a WWCC until it expires (because the WWCC only came in in 2019).
The WWCC is a compulsory screening strategy which covers adults working in child care services, community kindergartens, plus babysitters, nannies and crèche staff employed by an agency, and au pairs.
The WWCC considers the worker’s relevant national criminal record to see if any indicate they may be of harm to a child, and information can also be sought from others, including the Police, the Courts and Director of Public Prosecutions.
Child care workers also need to get a Police Check, and the WWCC certification is valid for three years. Employers must make sure workers have a valid WWCC or WWC Card (which must be renewed before they expire).
People doing child-related work have to have a Working with Children Clearance Notice (an Ochre Card).
SAFE NT administers the clearance procedure, and they check the worker’s National Police history first. Any relevant offences are then investigated, and the check can also look at employment disciplinary records, outstanding Court matters, and character references.
Working with Children clearance is valid for two years, and although workers are responsible for getting clearance, employers must make sure their staff have a valid WWCC. Employers must also comply with the WWCC scheme.
Australian Capital Territory
Instead of getting a WWCC, child care workers must get a Working with Vulnerable People (WWVP) screening check, plus a Police Check.
The background check looks for charges, convictions and negative work decisions, and a person needs a valid WWVP registration to work with children.
Registrations are valid for five years, and the person’s screening clearance can be general (they’re free to work with children), conditional (they can only do some activities) or role-based (they can only work in a specified role).
There’s also a WWVP check in Tasmania.
Child care workers have to apply for certification and the WWVP includes a national criminal history check.
The risk assessment process means that a child care worker will be Registered, Registered with Conditions or given a Negative Notice (not approved to work with kids).
The WWVP certification is valid for five years, and workers must report any changes to their criminal history. Employers have to check their registration before the person starts working with children, and check that their own details have been added to the worker’s registration. They also have to tell the Registrar when the workers starts/stops working at the service.
What else do you need to know?
WWCC and WWVP checks can be transferred from role to role, but not between jurisdictions (states/territories).
All WWCCs have continuous monitoring, which means that a new record can lead to a worker getting their WWC clearance cancelled, but people don’t have to get re-screened while their check is valid.
Volunteers are also covered in the different WWCC and WWVP checks, not just workers, and there are exemptions and conditions depending on where you live. You can see the different legislation and finer points here.
It’s also worth remembering that child care services have to comply with laws, regulations and standards before they can step up to care for our kids.
To find an approved service with great credentials, search Toddle - Australia’s most trusted child care comparison site.
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