Pre-employment screening: Working With Children Checks and Police Checks

Pre-employment screening: Working With Children Checks and Police Checks

CFCA Resource Sheet— May 2018
Pre-employment screening: Working with children checks and police checks

This resource sheet provides an overview of the types of Working With Children Checks and Police Checks in Australia, their requirements and state/territory contact information. This resource is intended for employers, current and prospective employees and volunteers engaging in child-related work in Australia. 

Each day, children across Australia come into contact with a variety of organisations such as schools, child care centres, hospitals, religious institutions, and sports and recreation clubs. Pre-employment screening for people seeking to engage in child-related work is one measure that contributes to ensuring the safety of children within these organisations. There is no single national framework setting out the requirements for obtaining Working With Children Checks (WWCC) or Police Checks. Instead, all states and territories have legislation providing for child-related employment pre-screening with requirements to be met. 

Pre-employment screenings such as WWCCs and Police Checks screen for an individual’s criminal records and any reports on their professional conduct. They are designed to help ensure that the right people are chosen to work or volunteer with children. They aim to prevent people from working or volunteering with children if records indicate that they may pose a risk. Research has highlighted the advantages of having structured pre-employment screening processes in place (Child Protection Systems Royal Commission, 2016). These benefits include:

  • Basing decisions on standardised points of reference, subjective decision making is minimised.
  • The use of structured risk assessment approaches is more reliable and valid than the use of professional judgement alone. 

  • The assumptions on which the risk assessment models are based can be clearly set out and may be tested. 

  • Information can be dealt with transparently, and the person affected can put forward information as well as correct it. 

  • Public awareness of the use of structured risk assessment models may deter possible offenders. 


(Child Protection Systems Royal Commission, 2016)

This resource sheet is divided into two parts:

The information provided in this publication is to be used as a guide only. Individuals are encouraged to check the currency of any information that is provided by contacting relevant departments or organisations. All enquiries about obtaining Working With Children Checks (WWCC) and Police Checks should be made to the state or territory government department responsible.

Authors and Acknowledgements

This paper was updated by Will Douglas, Research Officer with the Child Family Community Australia information exchange at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. 

Previous editions have been compiled by Kathryn Goldsworthy, Debbie Scott, Veronica Meredith, Claire Berlyn, Prue Holzer, Daryl Higgins and Nick Richardson.

The feature image is by Josh Blair, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Publication details

CFCA Resource Sheet
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, May 2018.
Last updated May 2018

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