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Working with Children Checks (WWCC)

10-minute read

Key facts

  • There is no national framework for obtaining a Working with Children Check (WWCC), and each state and territory has their own procedures and requirements.
  • A WWCC is an assessment of a person’s prior behaviour, but it doesn’t determine a person’s suitability to work with children.
  • Each organisation must decide if the potential employee or volunteer is a good fit for the organisation and the role.
  • Working with children and vulnerable person checks are continuously monitored.

What is a Working with Children Check?

A Working with Children Check (WWCC) is a type of pre-employment screening that aims to ensure all working environments in Australia are safe for children.

A WWCC is an assessment of a person’s prior behaviour; it doesn’t determine a person’s suitability to work with children.

Screening helps ensure the right people are chosen to work or volunteer with children. The aim is to prevent people from working or volunteering with children if records indicate that they may pose an unacceptable level of risk to children. Examples of unacceptable past behaviour include people with a known criminal or abusive history.

Employers or volunteer organisations shouldn’t rely on Working with Children Checks alone. They must also conduct interviews and reference checks as part of the organisation’s internal recruitment processes.

Do I need a Working with Children Check?

In most Australian states and territories, employees and volunteers who come into contact with children are required by to obtain a WWCC. Roles can include any position at a school, child care centre, hospital, religious institution, or sports and recreation club.

The law makes it mandatory for individuals in the following positions education to undergo a check and meet screening requirements:

  • childcare
  • child protection
  • child and family welfare
  • health
  • entertainment
  • recreation
  • religious instruction

If you are unsure whether you need to obtain a WWCC, contact the relevant body in your state or territory, listed below.

How do I apply for a Working with Children Check?

There is no national standard for WWCCs. Each state and territory has different requirements and operates independently. This includes who needs a WWCC, how long it is valid, and how you renew it.

The relevant governing groups also have different names in each of the states and territories, but each has a single screening unit to issue cards, registrations or permits.

The following state and territory screening units are the only organisations allowed, under legislation, to conduct Working with Children Checks:

Australian Capital Territory

Canberra—Working with Vulnerable People

  • Registration is valid for 3 years and is subject to monitoring
New South Wales

Office of the Children’s Guardian

  • Registration is valid for 5 years and is subject to monitoring
Northern Territory

Northern Territory Government

  • Registration is known as an Ochre Card and is valid for 2 years
Queensland

Queensland Government Department of Justice and Attorney-General – Blue Card Services

  • Registration is known as the Blue Card and is valid for 3 years
South Australia

Department for Communities and Social Inclusion

Tasmania

Department of Justice

  • Registrations are valid for 3 years
Victoria

Justice and Community Safety

  • Registrations are valid for 5 years
Western Australia

Department of Communities

  • Registrations are valid for 3 years

Working with Children Checks cannot be transferred between states and territories. If you move, you must meet the requirements of the state or territory where you are working or volunteering.

What is my role as a parent or carer?

As a parent or carer, you can verify the Working with Children status of someone who will come into close contact with your child, or other children in your care.

Examples of people you may need to verify include:

  • au pairs / nannies or babysitters
  • tutors
  • paid sport coaches
  • music or art teachers outside school
  • party entertainers

Some people may be exempt from needing a check, such as people under 18, close relatives and babysitters who work independently (for example, people who are not employed through an agency).

If you are a parent who volunteers as a sports coach or at your child’s school, you may not need a WWCC if you are working with your own child. If you work with other children (for example, coaching a different team) you may need a WWCC. The rules are different in each state and territory. To find out which rules apply in your state or territory, contact the relevant authority in the list above.

What if I have concerns about a service?

If you have concerns about a service, the first thing to do is raise the concern with that organisation. They should have a policy on how they handle your feedback or concern. This could include a situation where:

  • a person is working with children without a Working with Children Check
  • a person is not permitted to work with children, but continues to do so
  • an organisation does not have a procedure to ensure anyone who works with children undergoes a Working with Children Check and is permitted to work with children

If you still have concerns after speaking with the organisation, report them to the relevant authority in your state or territory.

If a child is in immediate danger, contact police on 000.

Resources and support

  • General advice regarding child safety.
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800 is a free, confidential 24/7 online and phone counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2022


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