Wednesday, 5 April 2017
Amendments have been made to the Working with Children Check Act 2005 ('the Act') following recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
This is a good thing as these amendments make it easier to work out if a person requires a WWCC or not. They also close more of the loopholes that unsuitable people were using to gain access to kids.
In practice, this also means that some of the very suitable people at our churches who did not previously need a WWCC will now need to obtain a check. That’s okay though, as it is now even easier and cheaper for volunteers to get a WWCC because Australia Post will now take your photos for free!
The changes that most directly affect our churches are:
Expand the definition of ‘direct contact’ in the Act to ensure that people engaging in ‘child-related work’ that involves ‘physical contact’, ‘face to face contact’, ‘oral’, ‘written’ or ‘electronic communication’ are required to obtain a Working with Children Check (‘Check’). The Act will continue to provide that a Check is not required in circumstances where the contact with a child is occasional and incidental to the work.
This means that if you are communicating with children verbally, in writing, or online as part of your role, you are now required to have a WWCC. It’s not just about being in the same room as them, it’s about being in communication with them in any capacity.
Remove references to ‘supervision’ from the Act to establish that, to determine whether a person requires a Check, the supervision of a person’s contact with a child is irrelevant. This will enable easier interpretation of the Check’s requirements in situations where it may have been unclear whether a person’s contact with a child was supervised.
This means that people who are working with children under the supervision of another person are no longer exempt and will now need to obtain their own WWCC. This may include helpers at youth group, sunday school, crèche, mainly music and other children’s and youth ministry events who previously didn’t need a WWCC because the person in charge of the activity had one. If you are still not sure if a person requires a WWCC, we recommend erring on the side of caution and getting one.
These changes come into effect on 1 August 2017. You can see the full wording and all the amendments here.
If you would like more information on WWCC you can get lots of information from their website.
Don’t forget to check the WWCC status of each of your staff and volunteers!
CCVT Safe Places Coordinator
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