The IEU confirms that any person already in paid or volunteer child related work in the following sectors need not apply immediately for a Working With Children Check (WWCC), as the WWCC phase in period remains as follows:
• Secondary school employees between 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017, and
• Primary schools/early education/child care employees between 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018.
BOSTES states however that all primary/early childhood teachers must have a WWCC by 1 January 2018 or teachers will not be able to be employed. The Union will provide a further update prior to the phase in periods.
We maintain that employers cannot instruct employees to apply for a WWCC prior to their sector phase in period. Further to this, recent advice received from the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) is that employers may require employees to apply for the WWCC within the relevant sector phase in period as part of a staged implementation process eg ‘region one’ employees to apply for the WWCC by 30 June 2016, ‘region two’ employees by 30 September 2016.
Remember you need not wait to receive your WWCC clearance number to engage in child related employment as, under the Child Protection (Working with Children Act) 2012 you are able to engage in child related employment with a current WWCC application (APP) number.
The WWCC process involves the OCG accessing national criminal history records and disciplinary records (for both current and historical matters) reporting a finding that child sexual misconduct (including grooming) or serious physical assault of a child had occurred. A clearance to work with children for five years will be issued to the WWCC applicant if none of the above mentioned records are identified during the WWCC process.
A risk assessment will be triggered on the WWCC applicant if, any Schedule 1 criminal record listed in the Child Protection (Working With Children) Act 2012 or a disciplinary record that reports a finding of child sexual misconduct (including grooming) or serious physical assault of a child, is identified during the WWCC process. The criminal or disciplinary record can relate to behaviour concerning children who are not students of the WWCC applicant and can also relate to behaviour that occurred outside the workplace.
The two possible outcomes of a risk assessment on a WWCC applicant are a clearance to work with children or a bar against working with children, for five years.
An automatic bar will be placed on any person with a conviction or a pending charge for a Schedule 2 criminal record listed in the Child Protection (Working With Children) Act 2012 for a period of five years. A bar can be appealed through the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).
The IEU will continue to offer advice and represent members who are the subject of a ‘child protection’ allegation, who are required to undergo a risk assessment when relevant records have been identified during the WWCC process, or who are notified by the OCG of a decision to not grant them a WWCC clearance.
We encourage members with any issues concerning the WWCC or who are the subject of a child protection allegation to immediately seek advice by contacting their IEU organiser or Russell Schokman, IEU Policy Advisor on 8202 8900 or the toll free number (for country members) 1800 467 943.