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Working with children checks - your role

11 December 2016

What are your responsibilities under the new legislation?

In November 2016, the Parliament of South Australia passed the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act to create working with children checks. The Act will strengthen background checks for people wanting to work or volunteer with children and young people. It creates a stronger legislative scheme, ensuring that a person who is assessed as being of high risk to the safety of children will be prohibited from working or volunteering with them, and that it is an offence to allow this to occur. 

The Act lays the groundwork, but most of the finer detail will be contained in regulations, rather than in the Act itself. These regulations are being drafted at the moment, and we will soon ask for your input on some elements.

What do I have to do right now?

While the Act has been passed, or ‘assented’, by Parliament, it has not yet ‘commenced’. This means that the Act has not yet been implemented and that the new system of working with children checks has not started. You can continue with your normal staff or volunteering screening practices until the Act commences.

What happens next?

Before the Act commences, we will ask for your feedback on the specific rules and details that will be contained in the regulations. We will seek community and sector input on a number of questions, including:

  • Who requires a working with children check?
    eg toy shop staff, sports coaches, school volunteers?
  • Who should be exempt from requiring a check?
    eg parents?

This consultation will occur in early 2017.

How will I know when the new laws commence?

People impacted by the new laws will be informed when the Act commences. You can also sign-up to receive notifications about working with children checks. Simply email wwcc [at] sa.gov.au with a request to be added to the mailing list.

Who will be affected?

Any organisation or individual who works or volunteers with children or young people will need to comply with the new laws once they commence. Who exactly is affected will be determined through the consultation on the regulations. If you are required to be screened under the current law, it is likely that you will need to undertake a working with children check under the Act once it commences. However, provisions will be put in place to give people time to get their working with children check.    

Acts versus regulations

An Act is a law that has been passed by both houses of Parliament. An Act contains statements and rules that are designed to implement a certain policy, in this case the need to have a working with children check. Regulations, on the other hand, are a type of ‘subordinate legislation’, meaning they are laws made under an Act of Parliament. The power to make regulations is contained in the Act. Regulations contain more specific details to support the Act, but do not need to be passed by Parliament. 

To find out more about the different types of legislation, visit the South Australian Legislation website. 

About the Act

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act provides for a more consistent, efficient and transparent system in line with recommendations from the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission.

The new system will eliminate the current two-tiered arrangement, whereby some organisations relied on a National Criminal History Check instead of a check undertaken through the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion’s Screening Unit.

Under the new system checks will be:

  • valid for a period of five years
  • transferable between different jobs or volunteer positions
  • continuously monitored as new information, such as a new criminal conviction, becomes available
  • undertaken through a single, centralised assessment unit responsible for all working with children checks on individuals.
Download the media release