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‘Working With Children’ Check in Victoria


Monday, 10th January 2005 at 12:01 pm
Staff Reporter
The Victorian Government has released a draft of the Working With Children legislation which will introduce compulsory police checks for paid and volunteer staff working in community organisations.

Monday, 10th January 2005
at 12:01 pm
Staff Reporter


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‘Working With Children’ Check in Victoria
Monday, 10th January 2005 at 12:01 pm

The Victorian Government has released a draft of the Working With Children legislation which will introduce compulsory police checks for paid and volunteer staff working in sporting, welfare, educational and other community organisations.

The discussion paper is open for public consultation until February 25.

The legislation widens the bans already in place on those working with children and extends the regime for checking those employed or volunteering in child-related fields.

Compulsory police checks are already carried out on teachers and child care workers. In future, the self-employed and volunteers who have contact with children through pre-schools, schools, religious organisations and overnight camps will also be checked.

The proposed checks will consider the following information:

-Registration on the recently established Sex Offender Register;
– Convictions for sexual assault, child-related violence or trafficking or supplying drugs to a child anywhere in Australia;
– Pending charges for sexual assault, child-related violence or drug offences and
– Serious disciplinary action by prescribed professional registration boards.

The Victorian Attorney General, Rob Hulls, says it’s proposed an assessment notice allowing a person to work with children would be valid for five years.

A reassessment will be automatically triggered if a person is charged with a relevant crime.

The Australian Council for Children and Youth Organisations (ACCYO) congratulated the Victorian Government for releasing the draft legislation saying ACCYO has been calling for this since 2002.

Netty Horton, CEO of ACCYO says that the legislation when enacted will send a very strong message to the community that whilst these checks will not stop child abuse, they will provide a significant deterrent to people who want to do the wrong thing by children.

Horton says interstate experience shows that they do catch people out and they will make families and organisations much more aware of the things they need to do to prevent child sexual abuse.

In NSW the Commission for Children and Young People report in its 2004 Annual Report says that more than 940,000 background checks have been carried out between 2000 and 2004 on paid workers, foster carers, ministers of religion and members of religious organisations. 367 people were rejected for child-related employment on the basis of their previous record.

In Queensland the Commission for Children and Young People¡¦s 2004 Annual Report notes that 110 negative notices prohibiting people from working with children and young people were issued in the past year.

In addition a further 289 applicants decided not to proceed with their application after the Commission had sought further information about their criminal histories with a further 5,487 applications being withdrawn from the screening process for a range of reasons including requests for further identification information.

ACCYO says it looks forward to providing the Government with comment and advice on the detail of the documents and especially to the enactment of the legislation next year.

Whilst many organisations already screen employees and volunteers for relevant criminal record matters, the Working with Children check will ensure that state-wide minimum standards apply across a wide range of child-related fields.

Once the Working with Children check is implemented, it will apply to a large number of Victorian employees and volunteers.

For this reason, the Victorian Government says it is keen to seek the views of stakeholders and members of the public on the proposed scheme through the release of the Discussion Paper and Exposure Draft Bill.

Specific questions are posed in the Discussion Paper, which may assist organisations in making their comments. However, the Government says Not for Profits are free to comment on any aspect of the Bill.

If you would like an electronic version of the draft just send an email with the words “Working With Children Discussion Paper ” in the subject line to probono@probonoaustralia.com.au.

Comments on the Exposure Draft Bill may be sent to:

Criminal Law Policy
Department of Justice
55 St Andrews Place
Melbourne Vic 3002
Email: legalpolicysubmissions@justice.vic.gov.au
Fax: (03) 9651 0577

Email submissions of 3 Megabytes (MB) or above cannot be received. These submissions will need to be sent in hard copy to the above address.

All comments on the Exposure Draft Bill will be treated as public documents unless you have requested otherwise. If you do not want your name to be identified or if you do not want your comments to be quoted or sourced to you, please make this clear on the document.

CLOSING DATE FOR COMMENTS: FRIDAY 25 FEBRUARY 2005

Contacts:
Criminal Law Policy
Department of Justice
55 St Andrews Place
Melbourne Vic 3002
Email: legalpolicysubmissions@justice.vic.gov.au
Fax: (03) 9651 0577



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