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6.04 Final Report

All institutions should uphold the rights of the child. Consistent with Article 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, all institutions should act with the best interests of the child as a primary consideration. In order to achieve this, institutions should implement the Child Safe Standards identified by the Royal Commission.

The National Statement of Principles for Child Safe Organisations was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in February 2019.

Implementation of National Principles into South Australia’s existing regulatory and policy framework will commence in late 2019.

Additional guidance and materials will be developed to support South Australian organisations, particularly smaller organisations and sole traders to understand and implement the principles.

Government response: Accepted in principle
Lead agency: Department of Human Services
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

6.05 Final Report

The Child Safe Standards are:

  1. child safety is embedded in institutional leadership, governance and culture
  2. children participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously
  3. families and communities are informed and involved
  4. equity is upheld and diverse needs are taken into account
  5. people working with children are suitable and supported
  6. processes to respond to complaints of child sexual abuse are child focused
  7. staff are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children safe through continual education and training
  8. physical and online environments minimise the opportunity for abuse to occur
  9. implementation of the Child Safe Standards is continuously reviewed and improved
  10. policies and procedures document how the institution is child safe.

See response to Recommendation 6.4.

Government response: Accepted in principle
Lead agency: Department of Human Services
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

6.06 Final Report

Institutions should be guided by the following core components when implementing the Child Safe Standards.

Standard 1: Child safety is embedded in institutional leadership, governance and culture.

  1. The institution publicly commits to child safety and leaders champion a child safe culture.
  2. Child safety is a shared responsibility at all levels of the institution.
  3. Risk management strategies focus on preventing, identifying and mitigating risks to children.
  4. Staff and volunteers comply with a code of conduct that sets clear behavioural standards towards children.
  5. Staff and volunteers understand their obligations on information sharing and record keeping.

Standard 2: Children participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.

  1. Children are able to express their views and are provided opportunities to participate in decisions that affect their lives.
  2. The importance of friendships is recognised and support from peers is encouraged, helping children feel safe and be less isolated.
  3. Children can access sexual abuse prevention programs and information.
  4. Staff and volunteers are attuned to signs of harm and facilitate child-friendly ways for children to communicate and raise their concerns.

Standard 3: Families and communities are informed and involved.

  1. Families have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of their child and participate in decisions affecting their child.
  2. The institution engages in open, two-way communication with families and communities about its child safety approach and relevant information is accessible.
  3. Families and communities have a say in the institution’s policies and practices.
  4. Families and communities are informed about the institution’s operations and governance.

Standard 4: Equity is upheld and diverse needs are taken into account.

  1. The institution actively anticipates children’s diverse circumstances and responds effectively to those with additional vulnerabilities.
  2. All children have access to information, support and complaints processes.
  3. The institution pays particular attention to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children with disability, and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Standard 5: People working with children are suitable and supported.

  1. Recruitment, including advertising and screening, emphasises child safety.
  2. Relevant staff and volunteers have Working with Children Checks.
  3. All staff and volunteers receive an appropriate induction and are aware of their child safety responsibilities, including reporting obligations.
  4. Supervision and people management have a child safety focus.

Standard 6: Processes to respond to complaints of child sexual abuse are child-focused.

  1. The institution has a child-focused complaint handling system that is understood by children, staff, volunteers and families.
  2. The institution has an effective complaint handling policy and procedure which clearly outline roles and responsibilities, approaches to dealing with different types of complaints and obligations to act and report.
  3. Complaints are taken seriously, responded to promptly and thoroughly, and reporting, privacy and employment law obligations are met.

Standard 7: Staff are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children safe through continual education and training.

  1. Relevant staff and volunteers receive training on the nature and indicators of child maltreatment, particularly institutional child sexual abuse.
  2. Staff and volunteers receive training on the institution’s child safe practices and child protection.
  3. Relevant staff and volunteers are supported to develop practical skills in protecting children and responding to disclosures.

Standard 8: Physical and online environments minimise the opportunity for abuse to occur.

  1. Risks in the online and physical environments are identified and mitigated without compromising a child’s right to privacy and healthy development.
  2. The online environment is used in accordance with the institution’s code of conduct and relevant policies.

Standard 9: Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is continuously reviewed and improved.

  1. The institution regularly reviews and improves child safe practices.
  2. The institution analyses complaints to identify causes and systemic failures to inform continuous improvement.

Standard 10: Policies and procedures document how the institution is child safe.

  1. Policies and procedures address all Child Safe Standards.
  2. Policies and procedures are accessible and easy to understand.
  3. Best practice models and stakeholder consultation inform the development of policies and procedures.
  4. Leaders champion and model compliance with policies and procedures.
  5. Staff understand and implement the policies and procedures.

See response to Recommendation 6.4.

Government response: Accepted in principle
Lead agency: Department of Human Services
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

6.08 Final Report

State and territory governments should require all institutions in their jurisdictions that engage in child-related work to meet the Child Safe Standards identified by the Royal Commission at Recommendation 6.5.

On 1 July 2019, the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 commenced, establishing a Working with Children Check scheme in South Australia. The Act outlines the definitions of working with children and undertaking child-related work, consistent with recommendation 6.9.

The Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 requires all state authorities, organisations and people working with children or  undertaking child-related work to ensure their environments are safe for children and young people.

Government response: Accepted in principle
Lead agency: Department of Human Services
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

6.09 - Final Report

Legislative requirements to comply with the Child Safe Standards should cover institutions that provide:

  1. accommodation and residential services for children, including overnight excursions or stays
  2. activities or services of any kind, under the auspices of a particular religious denomination or faith, through which adults have contact with children
  3. childcare or childminding services
  4. child protection services, including out-of-home care
  5. activities or services where clubs and associations have a significant membership of, or involvement by, children
  6. coaching or tuition services for children
  7. commercial services for children, including entertainment or party services, gym or play facilities, photography services, and talent or beauty competitions
  8. services for children with disability
  9. education services for children
  10. health services for children
  11. justice and detention services for children, including immigration detention facilities
  12. transport services for children, including school crossing services.

See response to Recommendation 6.8.  The definition of working with children and child-related work set out in the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 is consistent with this recommendation.

Government response: Accepted in principle
Lead agency: Department of Human Services
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

7.07 - Final Report

Consistent with 'Child Safe Standard 6: Processes to respond to complaints of child sexual abuse are child focused', institutions should have a clear, accessible and child-focused complaint handling policy and procedure that sets out how the institution should respond to complaints of child sexual abuse. The complaint handling policy and procedure should cover:

  1. making a complaint
  2. responding to a complaint
  3. investigating a complaint
  4. providing support and assistance
  5. achieving systemic improvements following a complaint.

The Child Safe Environments Program requires all organisations engaged in child-related work to establish a complaint handling process consistent with this recommendation. The Government of South Australia is considering the suitability of the complaint handling resources recently released by the National Office for Child Safety.

Government response: Accepted in principle
Lead agency: Department of Human Services
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

7.08 - Final Report

Consistent with 'Child Safe Standard 1: Child safety is embedded in institutional leadership, governance and culture', institutions should have a clear code of conduct that:

  1. outlines behaviours towards children that the institution considers unacceptable, including concerning conduct, misconduct or criminal conduct
  2. includes a specific requirement to report any concerns, breaches or suspected breaches of the code to a person responsible for handling complaints in the institution or to an external authority when required by law and/or the institution’s complaint handling policy
  3. outlines the protections available to individuals who make complaints or reports in good faith to any institution engaging in child-related work (see Recommendation 7.6 on reporter protections).

The Child Safe Environments Program requires all organisations engaging in child-related work to establish a code of conduct that sets out professional boundaries, ethical behaviour and unacceptable behaviour.

The Government of South Australia is considering whether its existing requirements could be strengthened through the adoption of the code of conduct resources developed by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Government response: Accepted in principle
Lead agency: Department of Human Services
Recommendation progress status: Planning

13.05 - Final Report

1. Boarding hostels for children and young people should implement the Child Safe Standards identified by the Royal Commission.

2. State and territory independent oversight authorities should monitor and enforce the Child Safe Standards in these institutions.

In relation to part 1, See response to Recommendation 6.4.

In relation to part 2, see the response to Recommendation 6.10.

Government response: 1) Accepted in principle. 2) For further consideration
Lead agency: 1) Department of Human Services 2) Department for Education
Recommendation progress status: 1) Implementing 2) Planning

14.01 - Final Report

All sport and recreation institutions, including arts, culture, community and hobby groups, that engage with or provide services to children should implement the Child Safe Standards identified by the Royal Commission.

See response to Recommendation 6.4.

All sporting and recreation institutions that provide services to children and young people in South Australia are currently required to provide child safe environments.

Government response: Accepted in principle
Lead agency: Department for Education
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

15.01 - Final Report

All institutions engaged in child-related work, including detention institutions and those involving detention and detention-like practices, should implement the Child Safe Standards identified by the Royal Commission.

December 2019 update

From 22 October 2018, psychometric or psychological assessments are a legislative requirement for all training centre staff. This includes new staff being assessed prior to their commencement. The Government of South Australia has assessed the majority of existing staff. All existing staff must be assessed before 22 October 2019.

Government response: Accepted in principle
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

15.03 - Final Report

Youth justice agencies in each state and territory should review the building and design features of youth detention to identify and address elements that may place children at risk. This should include consideration of how to most effectively use technology, such as closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and body-worn cameras, to capture interactions between children and between staff and children without unduly infringing children’s privacy.

The Government of South Australia is currently undertaking a trial of body worn cameras on staff in the Youth Service Division, Department of Human Services. Following completion of the trial, the effectiveness of body worn cameras will be assessed.

The use of CCTV cameras in areas accessed by residents is also being reviewed, with consideration being given to a program that pixelates portions of the room.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

15.04 - Final Report

As part of efforts to mitigate risks of child sexual abuse in the physical environment of youth detention, state and territory governments should review legislation, policy and procedures to ensure:

  1. appropriate and safe placements of children in youth detention, including a risk assessment process before placement decisions that identifies if a child may be vulnerable to child sexual abuse or if a child is displaying harmful sexual behaviours
  2. children are not placed in adult prisons
  3. frameworks take into account the importance of children having access to trusted adults, including family, friends and community, in the prevention and disclosure of child sexual abuse and provide for maximum contact between children and trusted adults through visitation, and use of the telephone and audio-visual technology
  4. best practice processes are in place for strip searches and other authorised physical contact between staff and children, including sufficient safeguards to protect children such as:
    1. adequate communication between staff and the child before, during and after a search is conducted or other physical contact occurs
    2. clear protocols detailing when such practices are permitted and how they should be performed. The key elements of these protocols should be provided to children in an accessible format
    3. staff training that highlights the potential for strip searching to re-traumatise children who have been sexually abused and how the misuse of search powers can lead to sexual humiliation or abuse. State and territory governments should consider implementing strategies for detecting contraband, such as risk assessments or body scanners, to minimise the need for strip searching children.

No further action required.

Current South Australian legislation, policies and programs are mostly consistent with this recommendation.

  1. Relevant assessments inform immediate referral needs, unit placement and release information.
  2. Section 63 of the Young Offenders Act 1993 governs when young people can be moved to adult prisons. Applications can be made to the Youth Court to transfer detainees who are 17 years or older from a training centre to a prison for the remainder of their sentence. This can only occur in certain circumstances, and there are a number of considerations and steps that must be taken by youth justice staff before recommending this action and providing evidence to support an application. The Government of South Australia does not intend to change this process.
  3. There are a number of mechanisms for current residents of the Adelaide Youth Training Centre to raise concerns or disclose alleged sexual abuse. These include:
    • daily interactions with youth workers and custodial workers weekly catch-ups with case coordinators dedicated unrecorded telephone lines to the Ombudsman South Australia and the Office of the Guardian for Children and Young People
    • ongoing access to a broad group of people, such as SA Health staff, education staff, youth workers, centre management and visitors from the Office of the Guardian for Children and Young People
    • access to the Training Centre Visitor, who visits and inspects training centres and performs an advocacy and monitoring role (formalised position since 1 December 2016) ongoing access to lodge written feedback to the management team via a secure feedback box in each accommodation unit Youth Advisory Committee meetings held at the training centre
    • contact with family.
  4. Training centre residents can be searched under the Youth Justice Administration Act 2016. Section 30 outlines the number of people who must be present at the search, their gender and the information to be recorded. In addition, the search must be carried out quickly and must consider the particular needs and circumstances of the resident. A number of search techniques can be used on Adelaide Youth Training Centre campuses including pat down searches, wand scan searches and partial unclothed searches. In all circumstances the least intrusive search must be selected to meet the required level of safety and security. All training centre operational staff are trained in approved search techniques.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

15.5 - Final Report

State and territory governments should consider further strategies that provide for the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in youth detention including:

  1. recruiting and developing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to work at all levels of the youth justice system, including in key roles in complaint handling systems
  2. providing access to interpreters, particularly with respect to induction and education programs, and accessing internal and external complaint handling systems
  3. ensuring that all youth detention facilities have culturally appropriate policies and procedures that facilitate connection with family, community and culture, and reflect an understanding of, and respect for, cultural practices in different clan groups
  4. employing, training and professionally developing culturally competent staff who understand the particular needs and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, including the specific barriers that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children face in disclosing sexual abuse.

The Government of South Australia has investigated a number of options to increase Aboriginal employment opportunities in Youth Justice. In particular, the Department of Human Services (DHS) has approval to consider Aboriginal applicants who have the appropriate background and skills but do not have the essential qualifications for Allied Health Professional roles within Youth Justice.

In addition, DHS has a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy with actions to ensure a workplace that is reflective of its community. DHS aims to be an employer of choice for Aboriginal people ensuring it is inclusive and respectful of Aboriginal culture.

DHS will continue to build on initiatives to attract, retain and develop Aboriginal employees and provide meaningful career pathways.

Government response: Accepted in principle
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

15.06 - Final Report

All staff should receive appropriate training on the needs and experiences of children with disability, mental health problems, and alcohol or other drug problems, and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds that highlights the barriers these children may face in disclosing sexual abuse.

New employees at the Department of Human Services (DHS) must attend a one day induction program. All new operational staff at the Adelaide Youth Training Centre – Kurlana Tapa (AYTC) must complete a 7 week induction program. Training for all staff includes, but is not limited to:

  • trauma informed practice
  • cultural awareness and diversity
  • child safe environments
  • mental health and suicide awareness.

In addition, all new youth workers at the AYTC are enrolled in Certificate IV in Youth Justice, to be completed within their first 12 months of employment. The Stanton Institute, in consultation with Youth Justice, have agreed to incorporate the elective unit – Work effectively in trauma informed care into the Certificate IV in Youth Justice. The unit is expected to be available to all youth worker intakes in 2020.

Disability awareness online training is available to all DHS staff and is a requirement for all training centre operational staff. Youth Justice is also investigating further disability training options. A Disability Practice Seminar with expert speakers was held during 2018-19, with a focus on communication strategies when working with young people with disability related needs in the Youth Justice system.

Government response: Accepted in principle
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

15.07 - Final Report

State and territory governments should improve access to therapeutic treatment for survivors of child sexual abuse who are in youth detention, including by assessing their advocacy, support and therapeutic treatment needs and referring them to appropriate services, and ensure they are linked to ongoing treatment when they leave detention.

No further action required.

Current policies and practices in South Australia are consistent with this recommendation.

Youth Justice, a division of the Department of Human Services, uses case management to refer young people to services that meet their needs, including services for victims of child sexual abuse. Youth Justice also works in partnership with agencies and community to support engagement with services.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

15.8 - Final Report

State and territory governments should ensure that all staff in youth detention are provided with training and ongoing professional development in trauma-informed care to assist them to meet the needs of children in youth detention, including children at risk of sexual abuse and children with harmful sexual behaviours.

Youth Justice staff receive recurrent training, including in trauma-informed practice, to ensure consistent practice in accordance with the Youth Justice Administration Act 2016.

All new youth workers at the Adelaide Youth Training Centre – Kurlana Tapa (AYTC) are enrolled in Certificate IV in Youth Justice, to be completed within their first 12 months of employment. The Stanton Institute, in consultation with Youth Justice, has agreed to incorporate the elective unit Work effectively in trauma informed care into the Certificate IV in Youth Justice. The unit is expected to be available to all youth worker intakes in 2020.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

15.09 - Final Report

State and territory governments should review the current internal and external complaint handling systems concerning youth detention to ensure they are capable of effectively dealing with complaints of child sexual abuse, including so that:

  1. children can easily access child-appropriate information about internal complaint processes and external oversight bodies that may receive or refer children’s complaints, such as visitor’s schemes, ombudsmen, inspectors of custodial services, and children’s commissioners or guardians
  2. children have confidential and unrestricted access to external oversight bodies
  3. staff involved in managing complaints both internally and externally include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and professionals qualified to provide trauma-informed care
  4. complaint handling systems are accessible for children with literacy difficulties or who speak English as a second language
  5. children are regularly consulted about the effectiveness of complaint handling systems and systems are continually improved.

Adelaide Youth Training Centre – Kurlana Tapa (AYTC) procedures are regularly reviewed. The relevant operational procedure in relation to complaint handling mechanisms will be updated, with a view to strengthening independent oversight of the process.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

15.10 - Final Report

State and territory governments should ensure they have an independent oversight body with the appropriate visitation, complaint handling and reporting powers, to provide oversight of youth detention. This could include an appropriately funded and independent Inspector of Custodial Services or similar body. New and existing bodies should have expertise in child-trauma, and the prevention and identification of child sexual abuse.

The Training Centre Visitor is developing a set of inspection standards and a pilot inspection is scheduled to occur during 2019-20.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

16 - Criminal Justice Report

In relation to blind reporting, institutions and survivor advocacy and support groups should:

  1. be clear that, where the law requires reporting to police, child protection or another agency, the institution or group or its relevant staff member or official will report as required
  2. develop and adopt clear guidelines to inform staff and volunteers, victims and their families and survivors, and police, child protection and other agencies as to the approach the institution or group will take in relation to allegations, reports or disclosures it receives that it is not required by law to report to police, child protection or another agency.

This recommendation is primarily applicable to institutions and survivor advocacy and support groups beyond those operated by government. The Government of South Australia is considering what appropriate guidance will be provided to institutions through the implementation of the National Statement of Principles for Child Safe Organisations about reporting allegations, reports or disclosures that are not required by law to be reported to police, child protection authorities or another agency.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services
Recommendation progress status: Planning

17 - Criminal Justice Report

If a relevant institution or survivor advocacy and support group adopts a policy of reporting survivors’ details to police without survivors’ consent – that is, if it will not make blind reports – it should seek to provide information about alternative avenues for a survivor to seek support if this aspect of the institution or group’s guidelines is not acceptable to the survivor.

See response to recommendation 16.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services
Recommendation progress status: Planning

18 - Criminal Justice Report

Institutions and survivor advocacy and support groups that adopt a policy that they will not report the survivor’s details without the survivor’s consent should make a blind report to police in preference to making no report at all.

See response to recommendation 16.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services
Recommendation progress status: Planning

19 - Criminal Justice Report

Regardless of an institution or survivor advocacy and support group’s policy in relation to blind reporting, the institution or group should
provide survivors with:

  1. information to inform them about options for reporting to police
  2. support to report to police if the survivor is willing to do so.

See response to recommendation 16.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services
Recommendation progress status: Planning

1 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should:

  1. within 12 months of the publication of this report, amend their working with children check laws to implement the standards identified in this report
  2. once the standards are implemented, obtain agreement from the Council of Australian Governments, or a relevant ministerial council, before deviating from or altering the standards in this report, adopting changes across all jurisdictions
  3. within 18 months from the publication of this report, amend their working with children check laws to enable clearances from other jurisdictions to be recognised and accepted.

a) The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implemented South Australia’s Working With Children Check (WWCC) scheme incorporating most of the WWCC report’s recommendations. See individual recommendations for further details.

b) National WWCC Standards (the Standards) were provided to the Council of Attorneys-General for endorsement on 23 November 2018. The Standards identify that jurisdictions should consult on any proposed changes to ensure best practice is built nationally and to drive national consistency. They also identify that changes are to be approved by the relevant Ministers.

c) The Commonwealth is leading a project to implement the National WWCC Database that will facilitate the sharing of WWCC negative notices between Australian jurisdictions.

The WWCC definition in the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (the Act), which commenced on 1 July 2019, includes a mechanism (through its regulations) for WWCCs issued by Australian jurisdictions other than South Australia to be regarded as WWCCs in South Australia. This mechanism has not yet been initiated. Further consideration and work with the Commonwealth and jurisdictions will be required before doing so.

The Act does include an exclusion of ten consecutive days for persons issued with a WWCC by an Australian jurisdiction other than South Australia, subject to conditions.

Government response: a) Accepted b) Accepted c) For further consideration
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: a) Complete b) Complete c) For further consideration

2 - Working with Children Checks Report

The South Australian Government should, within 12 months of the publication of this report, replace its criminal history assessments with a working with children check scheme that incorporates the standards set out in this report.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implemented South Australia’s Working With Children Check (WWCC) scheme incorporating most of the recommended standards. See individual recommendations for details.

Transitional provisions are in place for 12 months allowing temporary recognition of some types of criminal history assessments to allow a smooth transition to the new scheme.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

4 - Working with Childrens Checks Report

The Commonwealth, state and territory governments should, within 12 months of the publication of this report:

  1. agree on a set of standards or guidelines to enhance the accurate and timely recording of information by state and territory police into CrimTrac’s system
  2. review the information they have agreed to exchange under the National Exchange of Criminal History Information for People Working with Children, and establish a set of definitions for the key terms used to describe the different types of criminal history records so they are consistent across the jurisdictions (these key terms include pending charges, non-conviction charges and information about the circumstances of an offence)
  3. take immediate action to record into CrimTrac’s system historical criminal records that are in paper form or on microfilm and which are not currently identified by CrimTrac’s initial database search
  4. once these historical criminal history records are entered into CrimTrac’s system by all jurisdictions, check all working with children check cardholders against them through the expanded continuous monitoring process.

a), c) and d) The Commonwealth is progressing these recommendations.

b) The Steering Committee for the National Exchange of Criminal History Information for People Working with Children (ECHIPWC) reviewed the definitions used by each jurisdiction to share criminal history information (CHI) under COAG’s 2013 ECHIPWC Intergovernmental Agreement (the IGA). It agreed that the CHI shared by each jurisdiction is consistent with the IGA definition of CHI, and noted that the IGA definition of CHI is consistent with the CHI definition outlined in recommendation 17 of the report.

The National Working With Children Check (WWCC) Standards (the Standards), provided to the Council of Attorneys-General for endorsement on 23 November 2018, includes the recommendation 17 definition of CHI other than identifying that it should be irrespective of whether or not it concerns the person’s history as an adult or a child.

Government response: a) For further consideration b) Accepted c) For further consideration d) For further consideration
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: a) For further consideration b) Complete c) For further consideration d) For further consideration

5 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to incorporate a consistent and simplified definition of child-related work, in line with the recommendations below.

The National Working With Children Check (WWCC) Standards (the Standards), provided to the Council of Attorneys-General for endorsement on 23 November 2018, seek to promote consistent and simplified child-related work categories but not definitions as the jurisdictions were unable to agree child-related work definitions that could be applicable across all the jurisdictions’ varied legal frameworks.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements the report’s recommendations related to the categories of child-related work.

Government response: Accepted in principle
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

6 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to provide that work must involve contact between an adult and one or more children to qualify as child-related work.

December 2019 update

The National Working With Children Check (WWCC) Standards (the Standards), provided to the Council of Attorneys-General for endorsement on 23 November 2018, require jurisdictions to screen adults and allow but not require jurisdictions to screen children. This was interpreted by the Commonwealth as being consistent with recommendation 14 a) i) of this report, and so also this recommendation.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (the Act), which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements this recommendation, as interpreted in the Standards, and exempts children under 14 years from being required to have a WWCC.

In relation to contact, the Act identifies four types of positions requiring WWCCs including those working with children as a result of providing services or undertaking activities identified as child-related work. The services and activities identified as being child-related work in the Act and the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Regulations 2019 involve contact between the person being screened and one or more children.

Government response: Accepted in principle
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

7 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should:

  1. amend their working with children check laws to provide that the phrase ‘contact with children’ refers to physical contact, face-to-face contact, oral communication, written communication or electronic communication
  2. through the Council of Australian Governments, or a relevant ministerial council, agree on standard definitions for each kind of contact and amend their working with children check laws to incorporate those definitions.

    a) The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implemented this recommendation.

    b) The National Working With Children Check (WWCC) Standards (the Standards), provided to the Council of Attorneys-General for endorsement on 23 November 2018, identify child-related work as being work that involves physical contact, face-to-face contact, oral communication, written communication or electronic communication with one or more child. The Standards do not, however, include standard definitions for each kind of contact as the jurisdictions were unable to agree definitions that could be applicable across all the jurisdictions’ varied legal frameworks.

    Government response: a) Accepted b) Not accepted
    Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
    Recommendation progress status: a) Complete b) Not accepted

8 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should:

  1. amend their working with children check laws to provide that contact with children must be a usual part of, and more than incidental to, the child-related work
  2. through the Council of Australian Governments, or a relevant ministerial council, agree on standard definitions for the phrases ‘usual part of work’ and ‘more than incidental to the work’, and amend their working with children check laws to incorporate those definitions.

  1. The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements this recommendation by identifying that a person must either be providing services or undertaking activities that are child-related work or, in the ordinary course of their duties, it is reasonably foreseeable that they will be providing services or undertaking activities that are child-related work where child-related work must involve contact between the person being screened and one or more children.

Government response: a) Accepted b) Not accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: a) Completed b) Not accepted

9 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to specify that it is irrelevant whether the contact with children is supervised or unsupervised.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (the Act), which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements the spirit of this recommendation in that the Act ensures it is irrelevant whether contact with children is supervised or unsupervised even though this is not specified.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Completed

10 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to provide that a person is engaged in child-related work if they are engaged in the work in any capacity and whether or not for reward.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements this recommendation.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

11 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to provide that work that is undertaken under an arrangement for a personal or domestic purpose is not child-related, even if it would otherwise be so considered.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements this recommendation.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

12 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to:

  1. define the following as child-related work:
    1. accommodation and residential services for children, including overnight excursions or stays
    2. activities or services provided by religious leaders, officers or personnel of religious organisations
    3. childcare or minding services
    4. child protection services, including out-of-home care
    5. clubs and associations with a significant membership of, or involvement by, children
    6. coaching or tuition services for children
    7. commercial services for children, including entertainment or party services, gym or play facilities, photography services, and talent or beauty competitions
    8. disability services for children
    9. education services for children
    10. health services for children
    11. justice and detention services for children, including immigration detention facilities where children are regularly detained
    12. transport services for children, including school crossing services
    13. other work or roles that involve contact with children that is a usual part of, and more than incidental to, the work or roles.
  2. require working with children checks for adults residing in the homes of authorised carers of children
  3. remove all other remaining categories of work or roles.

a) The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (the Act), which commenced on 1 July 2019, mostly implements recommendations 12 a), noting that v) has not been limited to require contact with children and that the Act identifies (i)-(xii) categories of child-related work not including (xiii), the category for other work that involves contact with children. The wording used in the Act results in similar outcomes but does not always include the exact wording.

b) The Act implements recommendation 12 b) by declaring adults residing in the homes of authorised carers of children as being taken to work with children in the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Regulations 2019.

c) The Act, identifies four types of positions requiring a Working With Children Check (WWCC):

  • those prescribed as prescribed positions
  • those prescribed as working with children
  • those working with children because they carry on a business in the course of which an employee works with children, and
  • those working with children as a result of providing services or undertaking activities identified as child-related work.

Recommendations 12 a) and b) are implemented through the definitions of child-related work and working with children. Prescribed positions are outlined in the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Regulations 2019, however they may not already be captured through the definitions of child-related work and working with children and so this mechanism can expand the roles requiring WWCCs which is contrary to recommendation 12 c), for example persons working in South Australia’s Screening Unit and the Registrar of the Teachers Registration Board.

Government response: a) Accepted b) Accepted c) Not accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: a) Complete b) Complete c) Not accepted

13 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments, through the Council of Australian Governments, or a relevant ministerial council, should agree on standard definitions for each category of child-related work and amend their working with children check laws to incorporate those definitions.

The National Working With Children Check (WWCC) Standards (the Standards), were provided to the Council of Attorneys-General for endorsement on 23 November 2018. These identify agreed categories of child-related work, and allow jurisdictions to expand these categories in their legislation. The Standards do not identify agreed definitions as the jurisdictions were unable to agree definitions that could be applicable across all the jurisdictions’ varied legal frameworks.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, includes the child-related work categories listed in the report but does not include the categories of ‘work at an educational facility for children including administration and maintenance services’ or ‘mentoring or counselling services for children’ which are included in the Standards. South Australia will consider these two additional categories in future amendments to the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Regulations 2019.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

14 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children checks laws to:

  1. exempt:
    1. children under 18 years of age, regardless of their employment status
    2. employers and supervisors of children in a workplace, unless the work is child-related
    3. people who engage in child-related work for seven days or fewer in a calendar year, except in respect of overnight excursions or stays
    4. people who engage in child-related work in the same capacity as the child
    5. police officers, including members of the Australian Federal Police
    6. parents or guardians who volunteer for services or activities that are usually provided to their children, in respect of that activity, except in respect of:
      • overnight excursions or stays
      • providing services to children with disabilities, where the services involve close, personal contact with those children
  2. remove all other exemptions and exclusions
  3. prohibit people who have been denied a working with children check, and subsequently not granted one, from relying on any exemption.

  1. The National Working With Children Check (WWCC) Standards (the Standards), provided to the Council of Attorneys-General for endorsement on 23 November 2018, include these exemptions and the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (the Act), which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements them, noting:

    1. The Standards do not list children under 18 years of age as an exemption and instead require jurisdictions to screen adults and allow, but not require, jurisdictions to screen children. This was interpreted by the Commonwealth as being consistent with this recommendation. The Act exempts children under 14 years from being required to obtain a WWCC complying with the Standards and therefore the Commonwealth’s interpretation of this recommendation.
    2. The Standards do not list employers of supervisors of children in the workplace as an exemption and instead it is enacted by limiting the Act’s scope through services or activities not being taken to be child-related work merely because a person employs a child in the course of the service or activity;
    3. is additionally not allowed if there is close personal contact with children with disabilities;
    4. The Standards do not identify this as an exemption and instead remove these persons from the scope of a WWCC. They also vary the recommendation as it was considered that it was instead intended to state “people who engage in child-related work in the same capacity as the child, except where the person’s work is child-related work”. The Act implements this recommendation, as varied by the Standards, noting it is enacted through services or activities not being taken to be child-related work merely because a person undertakes the service or activity in the same capacity as a child to whom the service or activity relates as opposed to the person being exempted.
    5. is available only to South Australian Police in addition to the Australian Federal Police; and
    6. is not allowed if the service or activity provided involves close personal contact with any child (other than the person’s own child) and not just those children with disabilities which is consistent with a request from the South Australian Child Protection Systems Royal Commission.
  2. Contrary to this recommendation, the Standards allow persons to be exempt if allowed under a jurisdiction’s legislation. Consistent with the Standards, the Act allows the definition of excluded person to be expanded by its regulations. For example, the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Regulations 2019 currently defines excluded persons to include interstate residents who hold WWCCs and who provide child-related work for no more than ten consecutive days.
  3. The Act goes further as it precludes persons from being granted exemptions from screening requirements (and from being considered excluded persons) if they are or have ever been a prohibited person making any subsequent granting of a WWCC irrelevant. This implements the South Australian Child Protection Systems Royal Commission recommendation that exemptions should be precluded for those refused a WWCC.

Government response: a) Accepted b) Not accepted c) Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: a) Complete b) Not accepted c) Complete

15 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments, through the Council of Australian Governments, or a relevant ministerial council, should agree on standard definitions for each exemption category and amend their working with children checks laws to incorporate those definitions.

The National Working With Children Check (WWCC) Standards (the Standards), provided to the Council of Attorneys-General for endorsement on 23 November 2018, include the exemption categories identified in recommendation 14 (noting that i), ii) and iv) have not been listed as exemptions, instead being incorporated through scope).

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, has incorporated these exemptions into South Australia’s WWCC scheme although not always as exemptions.

The Standards do not include standard definitions for each kind of exemption category as the jurisdictions were unable to agree definitions that could be applicable across all the jurisdictions’ varied legal frameworks.

Government response: Not accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Not accepted

16 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to incorporate a consistent and simplified list of offences, including:

  1. engaging in child-related work without holding, or having applied for, a working with children check
  2. engaging a person in child-related work without them holding, or having applied for, a working with children check
  3. providing false or misleading information in connection with a working with children check application
  4. applicants and/or working with children check cardholders failing to notify screening agencies of relevant changes in circumstances
  5. unauthorised disclosure of information gathered during the course of a working with children check.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements this recommendation.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

17 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to include a standard definition of criminal history, for working with children check purposes, comprised of:

  1. convictions, whether or not spent
  2. findings of guilt that did not result in a conviction being recorded
  3. charges, regardless of status or outcome, including:
    1. pending charges – that is, charges laid but not finalised
    2. charges disposed of by a court, or otherwise, other than by way of conviction (for example, withdrawn, set aside or dismissed)
    3. charges that led to acquittals or convictions that were quashed or otherwise over-turned on appeal for all offences, irrespective of whether or not they concern the person’s history as an adult or a child and/or relate to offences outside Australia.

The National Working With Children Check (WWCC) Standards (the Standards), provided to the Council of Attorneys-General for endorsement on 23 November 2018, includes this definition of criminal history information, other than identifying that it should be irrespective of whether or not it concerns the person’s history as an adult or a child.

In conjunction with the operation of the Spent Convictions Act 2009, the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements the Standards’ definition of criminal history information through its definitions of assessable information and found guilty (noting that juvenile offences dealt with by forums other than the Youth Court (for example through family conference) are not currently available to South Australia Police and so may not always be provided to the Screening Unit).

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

18 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to require police services to provide screening agencies with records that meet the definition of criminal history records for working with children check purposes and any other available information relating to the circumstances of such offences.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements this recommendation.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

19 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to:

  1. require that relevant disciplinary and/or misconduct information is checked for all working with children check applicants
  2. include a standard definition of disciplinary and/or misconduct information that encompasses disciplinary action and/or findings of misconduct where the conduct was against, or involved, a child, irrespective of whether this information arises from reportable conduct schemes or other systems or bodies responsible for disciplinary or misconduct proceedings
  3. require the bodies responsible for the relevant disciplinary and/or misconduct information to notify their respective screening agencies of relevant disciplinary and/or misconduct information that meets the definition.

The National Working With Children Check (WWCC) Standards (the Standards), provided to the Council of Attorneys-General for endorsement on 23 November 2018, include a definition of ‘findings of misconduct’, narrowed to conduct involving physical or sexual misconduct involving or occurring in the presence of a child, and require that these findings must be assessed. They also require responsible bodies to notify their jurisdiction’s Screening Unit of relevant findings of misconduct.


The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements the Standards broadly. It requires employers to notify the Screening Unit about all disciplinary proceedings, disciplinary action and findings of misconduct, whether or not in relation to physical or sexual misconduct involving a child, and includes a mechanism requiring prescribed reporting bodies to notify the Screening Unit if it suspects that a person may pose an unacceptable risk to children. The Screening Unit is currently considering which bodies to prescribe as reporting bodies.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

20 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to respond to records in the same way, specifically that:

  1. the absence of any relevant criminal history, disciplinary or misconduct information in an applicant’s history leads to an automatic grant of a working with children check
  2. any conviction and/or pending charge in an applicant’s criminal history for the following categories of offence leads to an automatic working with children checks refusal, provided the applicant was at least 18 years old at the time of the offence:
    1. murder of a child
    2. manslaughter of a child
    3. indecent or sexual assault of a child
    4. child pornography–related offences
    5. incest where the victim was a child
    6. abduction or kidnapping of a child
    7. animal-related sexual offences.
  3. all other relevant criminal, disciplinary or misconduct information should trigger an assessment of the person’s suitability for a working with children check (consistent with the risk assessment factors set out below).

The National Working With Children Check (WWCC) Standards (the Standards), provided to the Council of Attorneys-General for endorsement on 23 November 2018, include requirements addressing these recommendations noting that for recommendation a) the Standards widen this approach such that applicants must also not have made any self-disclosures and not have other information deemed relevant by Screening Units.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements the Standards noting that jurisdictions are yet to identify which offences fall under the recommendation b) offences categorisation. South Australia has implemented this recommendation through its prescribed offences using the Commonwealth’s National Disability Insurance Scheme offence categorisation work as its starting point.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

21 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to specify that relevant criminal records for the purposes of recommendation 20(c) include but are not limited to the following:

  1. juvenile records and/or non-conviction charges for the offence categories specified in recommendation 20(b)
  2. sexual offences, regardless of whether the victim was a child and including offences not already covered in recommendation 20(b)
  3. violent offences, including assaults, arson and other fire-related offences, regardless of whether the victim was a child and including offences not already covered in recommendation 20(b)
  4. child welfare offences
  5. offences involving cruelty to animals
  6. drug offences.

The National Working With Children Check (WWCC) Standards (the Standards), provided to the Council of Attorneys-General for endorsement on 23 November 2018, include a requirement addressing these recommendations additionally including offences for breach of domestic and family violence orders.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements the Standards although in South Australia juvenile offences dealt with by a forum other than the Youth Court (for example through family conference) are not currently available to South Australia Police and so may not always be provided to the Screening Unit.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

23 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to specify that the criteria for assessing risks to children include:

  1. the nature, gravity and circumstances of the offence and/or misconduct, and how this is relevant to children or child-related work
  2. the length of time that has passed since the offence and/or misconduct occurred
  3. the age of the child
  4. the age difference between the person and the child
  5. the person’s criminal and/or disciplinary history, including whether there is a pattern of concerning conduct
  6. all other relevant circumstances in respect of their history and the impact on their suitability to be engaged in child-related work.

The National Working With Children Check (WWCC) Standards (the Standards), provided to the Council of Attorneys-General for endorsement on 23 November 2018, include a requirement addressing these recommendations additionally including the person’s relationship to the victim and the person’s conduct since the event.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements the Standards.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

24 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to expressly provide that, in weighing up the risk assessment criteria, the paramount consideration must always be in the best interests of children, having regard to their safety and protection.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements this recommendation.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Completed

25 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to permit working with children check applicants to begin child-related work before the outcome of their application is determined, provided the safeguards listed below are introduced.

Applicants

a) applicants must submit a working with children check application to the appropriate screening agency before beginning child-related work and not withdraw the application while engaging in child-related work

b) applicants must provide a working with children check application receipt to their employers before beginning child-related work

Other safeguards

c) employers must cite application receipts, record application numbers and verify applications with the relevant screening agency

d) there must be capacity to impose interim bars on applicants where records are identified that may indicate a risk and require further assessment.

The South Australian Child Protection Systems Royal Commission did not agree with this recommendation and therefore this recommendation is not being implemented.

Government response: Not accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Not accepted

26 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments that do not have an online working with children check processing system should establish one.

Online screening commenced in SA in June 2015.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

27 - Working with Children Checks Report

State and territory governments should process working with children check applications within 5 working days, and no longer than 21 working days for more complex cases.

‘Working With Children Check Guidelines’ were issued under the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 when it commenced on 1 July 2019. These identify that once all necessary information is obtained from external parties, South Australia’s Screening Unit will aim to process the majority of applications for which no risk assessment is required within 5 working days and working with children checks, for which a risk assessment is required, within 21 working days.

Government response: For further consideration
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

28 - Working with Children Checks Report

All state and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to specify that:

  1. working with children check decisions are based on the circumstances of the individual and are detached from the employer the person is seeking to work for, or the role or organisation the person is seeking to work in
  2. the outcome of a working with children check is either that a clearance is issued or it is not; there should be no conditional or different types of clearances
  3. volunteers and employees are issued with the same type of clearance.

SA's current working with children checks (child-related employment clearances) issued under the Children's Protection Act 1993 meet these requirements.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

29 - Working with Children Checks Report

All state and territory governments should ensure that any person the subject of an adverse working with children check decision can appeal to a body independent of the working with children check screening agency, but within the same jurisdiction, for a review of the decision, except persons who have been convicted of one of the following categories of offences:

  • murder of a child
  • indecent or sexual assault of a child
  • child pornography-related offences
  • incest where the victim was a child and
  1. received a sentence of full time custody for the conviction, such persons being permanently excluded from an appeal
    or
  2. by virtue of that conviction, the person is subject to an order that imposes any control on the person’s conduct or movement, or excludes the person from working with children, such persons being excluded from an appeal for the duration of that order.

Notwithstanding the above any person may bring an appeal in which they allege that offences have been mistakenly recorded as applying to that person.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements this recommendation.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

30 - Working with Children Checks Report

Subject to the implementation of the standards set out in this report, all state and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to enable working with children checks from other jurisdictions to be recognised and accepted.

As noted in recommendation 1 c), the national inter-jurisdictional Working With Children Checks (WWCC) working group, led by the Commonwealth, is collaborating on the design of the WWCC National Reference System which will facilitate the exchange of negative WWCCs.

The WWCC definition in the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (the Act), which commenced on 1 July 2019, includes a mechanism (through its regulations) for WWCCs issued by other Australian jurisdictions to be regarded as WWCCs in South Australia. This mechanism has not yet been initiated. Further consideration and work with the Commonwealth and jurisdictions will be required before doing so.

The recognition of positive WWCCs from other jurisdictions is still to be considered nationally.

Government response: For further consideration
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Planning

31 - Working with Children Checks Report

Subject to the commencement of continuous monitoring of national criminal history records, state and territory governments should amend their working with children check laws to specify that:

  1. working with children check s are valid for five years
  2. employers and working with children check cardholders engaged in child-related work must inform the screening agency when a person commences or ceases being engaged in specific child-related work
  3. screening agencies are required to notify a person’s employer of any change in the person’s working with children check status.

a) & c) The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (the Act), which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements these recommendations although noting that monitoring of national criminal history records has not yet commenced.

b) The Act requires employers to register their interest upon commencement but does not require employers to inform the Screening Unit when a person ceases being engaged in specific child-related work.

Government response: a) Accepted b) Accepted in principle c) Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

32 - Working with Children Checks Report

All state and territory governments should grant screening agencies, or another suitable regulatory body, the statutory power to monitor compliance with working with children check laws.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (the Act), which commenced on 1 July 2019, implements this recommendation. Although the Act does not specifically include powers to monitor compliance, as the Act contains offences, there is an implied power to monitor compliance.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

33 - Working with Children Checks Report

All state and territory governments should ensure their working with children checks laws include powers to compel the production of relevant information for the purposes of compliance monitoring.

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, which commenced on 1 July 2019, does not include specific powers to compel the production of relevant information for the purposes of compliance monitoring. It does contain, however, a power that permits the Registrar to require information from other persons, which provides the Registrar the power to require a person to provide information only on another specified person.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

34 - Working with Children Checks Report

The Commonwealth, state and territory governments should:

  1. through the Council of Australian Governments, or a relevant ministerial council, adopt the standards and set a timeframe within which all jurisdictions must report back to the Council of Australian Governments, or a relevant ministerial council, on implementation
  2. establish a process whereby changes to the standards or to state and territory schemes need to be agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments, or a relevant ministerial council, and must be adopted across all jurisdictions.

The Commonwealth led this recommendation with National Working With Children Check Standards (the Standards) being provided to the Council of Attorneys-General for endorsement on 23 November 2018.

The Standards identify that state and territory ministers responsible for the different WWCC schemes have committed to working towards full implementation of the Standards in their respective jurisdictions.

The Standards also identify that jurisdictions should consult on any proposed changes to ensure best practice is built nationally and to drive national consistency, and that changes are to be approved by the relevant Ministers.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Complete

36 - Working with Children Checks Report

The Council of Australian Governments, or a relevant ministerial council, should ensure a review is made after three years of the publication of this report, of the state and territory governments’ progress in achieving consistency across the working with children checks schemes, with a view to assessing whether they have implemented the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

The Commonwealth is leading this recommendation.

Government response: Accepted
Lead agency: Department of Human Services (DHS)
Recommendation progress status: Implementing

Page last updated: 5 December 2019