Working with Children check

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Working with Children check

To protect children from potential harm or sexual abuse, all people who work directly with children under 18 years of age must have a Working with Children check (WWC check) unless an exemption applies.

WWC checks are carried out by the Department of Justice and Community Safety (the department).

Do I need a Working with Children check?

The kinds of paid or voluntary work that may require a WWC check include:

  • childcare, childminding, babysitting, kinship care and child fostering
  • children's services
  • educational institutions
  • paediatric wards
  • clubs and religious organisations
  • transport services specifically for children
  • counselling
  • children's party services
  • student exchange accommodation services and
  • coaching or tuition services of any kind for children.

For a complete list of the types of jobs that require a WWC check, view the when you need a check page on the department’s Working with Children check website.

It is an offence to do child-related work without first obtaining a WWC check.

Exemptions

The following people are not required to undergo a WWC check:

  • people under 18
  • parent volunteers (if their child ordinarily participates in the activity)
  • people ‘closely related’ to each child they have contact with in their ‘child-related work’ (this exemption does not apply if the person is a kinship carer. A person who engages in kinship care work must hold a WWC check)
  • 18-year-old or 19-year-old students doing volunteer work organised by the student’s educational institution.

As they are already checked by a similar scheme, exemptions also apply to:

  • sworn police officers and
  • teachers registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching.

View the when you don’t need a check page on the Working with Children Check website. The exemptions do not apply to people who have failed the WWC check and been given a ‘WWC exclusion’. Before February 2021, a WWC exclusion was called a ‘negative notice’.

How do I apply?

To apply for a WWC check, you must fill in the online application form on the Working with Children Check website. You will also be required to take steps to prove your identity online.

After completing the form, you will receive an email with instructions on how to finalise your application at a post office. A passport photo is required for your application and this will be taken at the post office free of charge.

If you are applying for an employee WWC check you will need to pay an application fee.

What does the check involve?

The WWC check screens people in relation to their criminal history so that those who have been charged with or convicted of certain offences are not granted a ‘WWC clearance’ which then allows them to work directly with children. Before February 2021, a WWC clearance was called an ‘assessment notice’.

Not all prior offences, charges or allegations will result in a WWC exclusion. Offences are categorised according to how serious the potential risk is believed to be.

The offences that are most relevant to the check are serious sexual, violent or drug offences and offences that are considered to present an ‘unjustifiable risk’ to the safety of children. These charges may still be considered as part of the WWC check even if you were not ultimately convicted or found guilty of the offence.

Read things you need to know for more information about what is checked. 

Do I need to let the department know about any changes in my circumstances?

If anything changes while you are waiting for the check to be finished, you will need to let the department know.

Once you have passed the check and have been granted a WWC clearance you are also under a continuing obligation to notify the department about changes in your circumstances.

New offences must be reported within 7 days

If you hold a WWC clearance, you must notify both the department and your employer if you are charged with a serious offence. Penalties apply if you fail to notify them within 7 days of the change.

Penalty for failing to advise of changes to personal details

After lodging your application, or passing the check, you must notify the department within 21 days if there are any changes to your name, address or contact phone number.

Read more about your responsibilities at information for cardholders.

WWC clearance

If you pass the check, the department will issue a WWC clearance and you will be sent a card in the mail.

The check lasts for 5 years.

What if I fail the check?

If you fail the check, the department will issue you with a ‘WWC exclusion’. This means that you are prevented from doing any child-related work for a period of five years, unless your circumstances change. After five years, you can reapply for a WWC check.

Where the department believes that you pose an unjustifiable risk to children, it will notify you that it intends to issue an ‘interim WWC exclusion’. This gives you the opportunity to write to the department and ask them to consider the reasons why you think that you should pass the WWC check. If, after the department considers these reasons, you fail the check, you will be issued with a ‘WWC exclusion’, which prohibits you from working with children. If you do not provide any reasons in response to an interim WWC exclusion, the department must issue you with a final WWC exclusion.

If you receive an interim WWC exclusion, it is a good idea to speak with a lawyer before you respond to the department.

Find out how you can Get help with a Working with Children check.

If you receive a WWC exclusion, you may apply for a review of the department’s decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT). These applications are heard in the Review and Regulation List.

Read more about Appealing a WWC exclusion.

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