Not-for-profit Law
Legal help for community organisations

Background checks

Please change your location to view this page.

This page contains content that does not match your current location

Screening procedures for potential candidates

When your not-for-profit organisation is looking to recruiting volunteers or employees you need to conduct appropriate screening procedures to manage the risks they may pose to your organisation.

The checks you undertake will depend on the nature of the work the employee or volunteer will be undertaking.  If someone has access to money, equipment or data, it may be appropriate to undertake a police check. If they will be working with children (this has a special meaning), it is a legal requirement to undertake a Working With Children Check.

Screening applicants appropriately when your organisation is recruiting is a good way to try to keep your organisation safe and to head off potential problems before they arise.

All organisations have a duty of care (a legal responsibility) to ensure a safe environment for employees, volunteers and clients, and being appropriately informed  will help.

Police checks

While police checks are generally not necessary there are certain industries where they are mandatory. For example, aged care facilities that are funded by the Australian Government are required to screen employees and volunteers who have (or are likely to have) direct contact with care recipients. You should check your funding and insurance contracts to see whether any background checks are required.

Those who recruit volunteers for services have a duty of care to ensure that they take reasonable steps to avoid harm to the organisation and its existing employees, volunteers and clients. Even if the law, or any funding agreement, does not require a police records check, your organisation may decide that a criminal record check is necessary.

If your organisation requires that applicants undergo police checks during the recruitment process, you must not refuse an applicant because he or she has a prior conviction for an offence that has no relevance to the position.

There are legal protections against discrimination on the basis of criminal record, and you should only refuse an applicant on the basis of a criminal past when you believe that the prior offence prevents the applicant from performing the 'inherent requirements' of the position.

For more information go to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).

Privacy laws

In the recruitment process your organisation will gain access to personal information about candidates, so the privacy laws may apply to govern the ways your organisation manages that information.

Even if the privacy laws don't apply to your organisation, the ways your organisation uses, stores and discloses that information might impact on your reputation, so it is worth considering how best to approach information about individuals.

Not-for-profit Law has produced a guide on privacy, to download the guide go to the Privacy page.

Working with children checks

Employees (or volunteers) of any organisation who will be undertaking 'child related work' must not commence in that role until they obtain a Working with Children check (WWC Check). The Victorian Working With Children Act 2005 (WWC Act) defines what is 'child related work'. A ‘child’ is defined in the WWC Act as any person under 18 years old. Activities will be considered to be ‘child-related work’ for the purposes of a WWC Check where the work with your organisation (paid or unpaid) usually involves direct contact with a child.

The WWC Check will be required if the child-related work falls within one of the 23 specific activities identified in the WWC Act.

For Not-for-profit Law's comprehensive Guide on Working with Children Checks, go to the VIC section our Recruitment of employees page. 

More information is also available at the Victorian Commission for Children and Young People webpage.

Working with children checks

Employees (or volunteers) of any organisation who will be undertaking 'child-related work’ must not commence in that role without a Working with Children Check (WWC Check).  The Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 (NSW) defines what is 'child-related work’.

Failure to comply with these requirements can result in serious penalties for both the organisation and the employee or volunteer who has failed to undertake the check. 

Not-for-profit Law has produced a comprehensive guide on Working with Children Checks. To access this guide go to the NSW section of our Recruitment of empoyees page. 

More information is also available at the NSW Office of the Children's Guardian webpage.

Working with children checks

The Queensland Working With Children (Risk Management & Screening) Act 2000 (QLD) (WWC Act) requires that a Blue Card Check be obtained by an individual before certain ‘child-related work’ can be undertaken. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in serious penalties for both the organisation and the employee or volunteer who has failed to undertake the check

Not-for-profit Law has produced a comprehensive guide on Working with Children Checks. To access this guide go to the QLD section of our Recruitment of empoyees page. 

More information is also available at the Queensland Government Blue Card services website.

In South Australia, most individuals who perform child-related work (the term used in the Child Protection Act is ‘prescribed position’; see below) are required to undergo child-related employment screening

Not-for-profit Law has produced a comprehensive guide on Working with Children Checks. To access this guide go to the SA section of our Recruitment of empoyees page. 

Note that the the South Australian Government has recently passed legislation that will significantly change the law on checks needed for people who work with children. The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (the new Act) passed parliament in November 2016, but the Government has yet to announce a date for its commencement. Read more here

You should contact the Government of South Australia’s screening checks unit for updated information here or you can call 1300 321 592 or email at DCSIscreeningunit@sa.gov.au 

In the Northern Territory, most individuals who are engaged in ‘child-related work’ are required to obtain a WWC Clearance.

A ‘child’ is defined under the Care and Protection of Children Act 2007 (NT) (the Act as a person under 18 years of age. ‘Child-related work’ for the purposes of a WWC Clearance is any work (paid or unpaid) that involves or potentially involves contact (which is defined broadly under the Act) with children that falls within one of the specific activities listed in the Act.

Not-for-profit Law has produced a comprehensive guide on Working with Children Checks. To access this guide go to the NT section of our Recruitment of empoyees page. 

More information is also available at the SAFE NT website.

The Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Act 2011 (WWVP Act) requires registration for anyone who is 'engage'd in a 'regulated activity' (this means they have contact with a vulnerable person as part of engaging in the activity in any capacity e.g. as a paid employee or an unpaid volunteer. Contact includes physical contact or oral or written communication.  

If your organisation offers roles where ‘regulated activities’ are performed then you should carefully consider if your employees and volunteers need to be obtain registration.

Not-for-profit Law has produced a comprehensive guide on Working with Children Checks. To access this guide go to the ACT section of our Recruitment of empoyees page. 

More information is also available at the Access Canberra webpage, including tools wot work out if a person needs to be registered.

In Tasmania the Registration to Work with Vulnerable People Act 2013 (RWVP Act) provides for registration of individuals working with vulnerable people. Failure to comply with the RWVP Act requirements can result in serious penalties for both the organisation and the employee or volunteer who has failed to undertake the registration.

Not-for-profit Law has produced a comprehensive guide on Working with Children Checks. To access this guide go to the Tasmanian section of our Recruitment of empoyees page. 

The Tasmanian Department of Justice administers the registration system. It has developed detailed guides for specific industries and sectors such as child related disability services, protection services, transport services, education services, and childcare services, as well as many Tasmanian clubs and associations. You can find out more here.

 

Subscribe to the Update

Subscribe to the Update

Subscribe to the monthly Not-for-profit Law Update for information on changes to the law, new resources, events and other sector news.

Subscribe