- Reforms to strengthen Working with Children Checks came into effect today
- The Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Amendment Act 2022 will help to better protect children
- Changes include expanding the list of criminal offences that trigger an automatic Negative Notice which makes it an offence to carry out child-related work
Legislative reforms to strengthen Working with Children Checks have come into effect today, making it harder for people who have committed certain offences, or engaged in certain conduct, to obtain a Working with Children Card.
Under the changes, there will be expanded criminal offences including those that trigger an automatic Negative Notice will be expanded. It is an offence to carry out child-related work while holding a Negative Notice.
Other key changes to the legislation include:
- preventing anyone with a current Interim Negative Notice or Negative Notice being able to use parent volunteer or child volunteer exemptions;
- ability for the Working with Children Screening Unit to receive conduct review findings or outcomes from the Teacher Registration Board of WA and the Ombudsman WA, which could trigger a reassessment of an individual's Working with Children Card; and
- requiring Working with Children cardholders and applicants to notify the Working with Children Screening Unit of a change in: personal details (name), contact details (residential address, telephone number, email etc.) or child-related work status (starting or ceasing).
For employees, volunteers, or organisations who breach their obligations, fines of up to $60,000 and five years' imprisonment may apply.
For more information visit https://www.workingwithchildren.wa.gov.au/
Comments attributed Child Protection Minister Sabine Winton:
"Keeping children safe is always our priority and Working with Children Checks are a screening tool that can help to do that.
"Modernising these laws and making it tougher for people who pose an unacceptable risk to children from getting a Working with Children Card will further support children to safely enjoy everyday activities like sport and schooling.
"Importantly, these updated laws will also give authorised officers powers to investigate suspected offences or determine compliance with the Act, to help keep children safe.
"While these changes will improve one of our vital child-safe systems, it is important to acknowledge that protecting children is everyone's responsibility. It cannot be left to one organisation, one person, or one particular safeguard to ensure the protection of children across the community."