A number of important amendments to the Working with Children Act 2005 (the Act) will come into effect on Sunday 26 October 2014 . The changes improve the clarity and efficiency of the Act and respond to the Victorian Parliament’s Betrayal of Trust report recommendation about ministers of religion.
The information below outlines two important changes. The complete list of amendments is available on the Working with Children Check website at Changes to Legislation.
Working with Children Check no longer a suitability check
The Working with Children (WWC) Check screens a person’s criminal records and professional conduct reports over their lifetime. The Act has been changed to make it clear that the WWC Check does not assess a person’s suitability to work with children, as this is the role of organisations.
The WWC Check is just the starting point. There are a number of other important actions organisations need to take to determine a person’s suitability to work with children and to create safe environments for children.
For example, organisations should also reference check people they plan to engage in child-related work, and continue to monitor the behaviour of their workers around children.
New definition of child-related work
Several changes have been made to the definition of child-related work.
The Act now defines child-related work as work in one of the occupational fields listed in the Act, where the contact with children is direct, unsupervised and part of a person’s duties.
The changes to the definition clarify that:
- direct supervision no longer refers to the supervision of a person’s work but to their contact with children. The requirement that this supervision has to be personal and immediate has not changed.
- direct contact means that the worker is able to talk face-to-face or be physically close enough to interact with a child. Being 'within eyeshot' of children has been removed from the definition.
- contact with children needs to be a part of a worker’s duties, not incidental to their work.
Example: A plumber is called to fix a burst pipe in a junior sports clubroom. As contact with children isn’t necessary for the plumber to fix the pipe, they do not need to get a WWC Check.
Further details will be available on the WWC website or read the Changes to the Working with Children Act - impact for sport organisations.