||On 26 October 2014 a number of important amendments to the Working with Children Act 2005 (the Act) will come into effect. The changes improve the clarity and efficiency of the Act and respond to the Victorian Parliament’s Betrayal of Trust report recommendation about ministers of religion.
The information below outlines two important changes. The complete list of amendments is available on our website at Changes to Legislation.
Working with Children Check no longer a suitability check
The Working with Children (WWC) Check screens a person’s criminal records and professional conduct reports over their lifetime. The Act has been changed to make it clear that the WWC Check does not assess a person’s suitability to work with children, as this is the role of organisations.
The WWC Check is just the starting point. There are a number of other important actions organisations need to take to determine a person’s suitability to work with children and to create safe environments for children.
For example, organisations should also reference check people they plan to engage in child-related work, and continue to monitor the behaviour of their workers around children.
Further details will be available on our website at About the Check from 26 October 2014.
New definition of child-related work
Several changes have been made to the definition of child-related work.
The Act now defines child-related work as work in one of the occupational fields listed in the Act, where the contact with children is direct, unsupervised and part of a person’s duties.
The changes to the definition clarify that:
Example: A plumber is called to fix a burst pipe in a junior sports clubroom. As contact with children isn’t necessary for the plumber to fix the pipe, they do not need to get a WWC Check.
- direct supervision no longer refers to the supervision of a person’s work but to their contact with children. The requirement that this supervision has to be personal and immediate has not changed.
- direct contact means that the worker is able to talk face-to-face or be physically close enough to interact with a child. Being 'within eyeshot' of children has been removed from the definition.
- contact with children needs to be a part of a worker’s duties, not incidental to their work.
New requirements for ministers of religion
All ministers of religion are now required to get a WWC Check unless the contact they have with children is only occasional and always incidental to their work.
Child-related work for ministers is defined more broadly than for everyone else. For ministers, child-related work is not limited to work involving direct and unsupervised contact with children. Any contact with children, unless it is only occasional and incidental, is enough to trigger the requirement to get checked. This would include having children present in their congregation, or attendance at schools or children's camps, even when all their contact with children is supervised.
Full details about which people need a WWC Check will be available on our website at Who needs a Check? from 26 October 2014.
Please ensure your members and affiliates are aware of these important changes.
If you would like us to review materials about these changes prior to distribution, or provide sample articles for your newsletters and bulletins, please contact Glenys Sharma, Manager Public Interface at Glenys.Sharma@justice.vic.gov.au ahead of your publication date/s.
Thank you for your continued support in helping to protect children from harm.