Changes made to Working with Children Check in Victoria

EXPANDED: More people will require a Working with Children Check under changes being brought in this year. Picture: GEORGIE BERESFORD

EXPANDED: More people will require a Working with Children Check under changes being brought in this year. Picture: GEORGIE BERESFORD

More people will need a Working with Children Check under changes coming into effect later this year.

The changes, operational from August 1, will implement some recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Currently, people who work with children under supervision do not need a check.

But these new rules will mean even those who have supervised contact with children will require a check.

Parents who volunteer at school canteens or on stalls at school fetes will need to attain a Working with Children Check under the changes.

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

Non-conviction charges for serious sexual, violent or drug offences will also be considered as part of assessments and re-assessments of check applications.

People who might soon need a check have been advised to apply ahead of August 1, to ensure they can continue in their roles once the changes come into effect.

“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,” Department of Justice and Regulation deputy secretary Ryan Phillips said.

Currently 21,680 people in the Bendigo area hold a Working with Children Check.

The check examines criminal records and, in some cases, reports from professional bodies about the conduct of the applicant to assess potential risk to children.

Changes which require kinship carers – those who provide out-of-home care to a young family member or child of significance to them – to hold a Working with Children Check began in May.

Engaging in child-related work without a Working with Children Check is a criminal offence, with penalties of two years’ imprisonment, a fine of more than $37,000, or both.

It is also a criminal offence for organisations to engage people in such work without a valid check, and can carry a fine of more than $186,500.

Child-related work is defined as work involving direct contact with a child, where this contact is required as part of the duties of the position.

Working with Children Checks are valid for five years, during which time the Department of Justice and Regulation will monitor the criminal records of holders.

For more information on how to apply for a check, visit the website.

Applications are free for volunteers.

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