New child protection screenings required in South Australia from July 1
The new working with children check (WWCC) will mean that anyone working with children will require a check by law. Many organisations currently require a Department of Communities and Social Inclusion (DSCI) clearance as a matter of policy for those working directly with children, however the changes will legislate this as a legal requirement.
The checks will be valid for five years, will be transferable between jobs and will align South Australia with new national standards. Importantly, those wishing to apply for a WWCC will be able to apply for the check directly, meaning the check will be more readily transferable between roles.
Professions requiring a Department of Human Services WWCC check for the first time include:
- Preschool, primary school and secondary school educators
- Ministers of religion
- Healthcare workers
- Emergency services personnel
- Children’s party entertainers
“The State Government’s new mandatory WWCC puts the safety of children front and centre, as they should be,” said South Australian Minister for Human Services, Michelle Lensink, adding that the new laws are being introduced “in response to recommendations from both Federal and South Australian Royal Commissions, to help better protect children in our communities.”
The new laws replace the current system where people can have a number of different clearances, such as a national police check, with the WWCC replacing all other types of child-related screening checks, with a 12-month transitional process in moving to the new scheme.
“We (the South Australian Government) recognise that implementing such a big change requires some flexibility, which is why we are proposing a transition period for people affected by the new requirements,” said Ms Lensink.
When South Australian parliament resumes in late February, the State Government will move to amend the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 so that it aligns with the National Standards for WWCC and allow information about prohibited persons to be shared across State and Commonwealth jurisdictions, Minister Lensink said.
Those South Australians who hold a current, valid DHS child-related employment screening on July 1 will be recognised as having a valid WWCC until their current screening expires, with transition support processes in place for those professions requiring a WWCC for the first time having arrangements in place to support their transition into the scheme.
Ms Lensink said that, for most South Australians, no immediate action will be required “Over the coming months, the Department of Human Services will work closely with communities and industry groups to provide more detailed information about individual circumstances and what the new laws mean for them.”
The current cost of the check remains $107.80 and $59.40 for students.