Changes to the Working With Children Check

There have been some changes to the laws around the Working With Children Check (WWCC) that are important for anyone who works or volunteers with kids, and their employers.

An authority to employ children is different from the WWCC. It is important for your business to understand the WWCC and what you need to do to comply with the legislation.

A full list of the changes to the legislation is on the Kid’s Guardian’s website. (Link Below) but the main changes are:

  • Employers are required to verify child-related workers and keep records or risk a fine
  • people need to keep their personal details up to date or risk a penalty
  • Employers who do not verify their workers can now be issued a penalty notice ($1000 for a corporation or $500 for an individual).

Who needs a WWCC?

Workers and volunteers need to have a WWCC if they are in child related work. The changes to the legislation clarify that child related work is where contact with children is a usual part of the work, and not just incidental.

The work also needs to be where people are face-to-face or in physical contact with children. There are also a range of roles relating to children, for example a driver transporting children or managing a children’s service provider that require a WWCC.

There are some exceptions, so check out the Office of the Children’s Guardian’s website if you’re unsure whether you or your employees need a WWCC.

Examples of roles that would require a WWCC

  • Nurses who have been employed specifically to care for children in the workplace
  • Chaperones and Supervisors who have been employed to look after children where a parent or guardian isn’t or can’t be present
  • Drivers who have been employed to transfer children to and from the workplace
  • Wardrobe/makeup/hair stylists who have been employed to dress and style children, or who are more than likely to dress and style children as part of their usual role
  • Production staff who have regular contact with children as a usual part of their role

The roles will not be limited to the above examples; there may be other positions in your business that would be considered child-related work.

What do employers have to do to comply with the law?

You need to assess the roles within your business to determine who would be considered to be in child related work (more than incidental with face to face or direct contact).

You then need to request the employees in these roles apply for a WWCC if they haven’t already done so.

Employers need to register online and verify their child related workers’ WWCC numbers or applications.

Employers need to keep records for the WWCC. The record should include the worker’s full name, date of birth, WWCC number, verification date and outcome, and the WWCC expiry date.

These records must be kept for seven years. You may be asked by the OCG Compliance team to produce these records at any time.

Why is it important to verify online?

One of the strengths of the NSW system is that it is underpinned by an ongoing, continuous check. By registering and verifying, employers can be contacted by the OCG should anyone become barred through the continuous monitoring process. Fines for not verifying will apply to every organisation where people work with kids.

Over the last five months, we have conducted various compliance operations. One of the most regularly detected breaches of the Child Protection legislation was a failure to verify child related workers’ WWCC numbers.

Keeping kids safe

The Working With Children Check legally prevents people who pose a risk from working with children but it’s not enough on its own. Our aim is to create safe places for children and the Working With Children Check is one of a range of strategies for achieving this.

Organisations, through their people, also need to build a child safe culture with policies and procedures in place to make their organisation child safe.

Creating a child safe environment within your workplace is key to keeping kids safe. Now is a good time to review your practices to ensure you are making your workplace a happy, fun and safe place for children to work in.

One way of doing this is through your code of conduct. Developing and owning your code of conduct is your way of showing your staff that you have zero tolerance of inappropriate behaviour, and a focus on creating a positive respectful workplace for both adults and children.


Related Articles