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Working with Children Check Reform

Protecting children from the risk of harm is a key priority for all Australian governments. Working with children check schemes form part of a broader suite of practices that help to protect children from abuse. The Commonwealth, state and territory governments are committed to continually improving these schemes to make organisations safer for children.

Ministerial Forum on Child Safety

On the 24 November 2023, the Attorney-General hosted a Ministerial Forum on Child Safety with states and territories to progress national reforms to prevent child sexual abuse in Australia.

Participants in the Ministerial Forum reaffirmed existing child safety reforms, emphasising the need to ensure national consistency to protect Australia's children. This included prioritising working with children check harmonisations, ensuring this work complements broader worker screening reforms, renewed commitment to embedding the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations in legislation, and options to enhance sharing child safety and wellbeing information across sectors and jurisdictions. These options include possible legislation and administrative arrangements for an information sharing scheme as recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse.

Participants also agreed to further consider options to improve child safety through enhancing monitoring of working with children checks, raising awareness and understanding of child safety issues, and alignment of jurisdictional reportable conduct schemes.

Read the media release.

About Working with Children Checks

In 2015, the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse released the Working With Children Checks report. It outlines what institutions and governments should do to better protect children against child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts in the future.

The National Office for Child Safety published the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations in 2019 to provide a nationally consistent approach to embedding child safe cultures within organisations that engage with children. National Principle 5 focuses on ensuring people working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice. A key action area for this National Principle is that relevant staff and volunteers are subject to appropriate pre-screening and have current working with children checks.

In 2019, state and territory ministers responsible for the different working with children check schemes endorsed the National Standards for Working With Children Checks and committed to working toward implementation in their respective jurisdictions. The standards provide nationally consistent parameters for screening, including:

  • who needs a check
  • risk assessment
  • relevant criminal history
  • clearance types
  • compliance.

Working with children check reforms are progressing under Measure 3 of the First National Action Plan of the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse 2021-2030, to enhance national arrangements for sharing child safety and wellbeing information.

This work supports building a culture in which people working with children are supported to share information to identify, prevent and respond to child maltreatment, and are adequately assessed on their suitability to work with children.

  • Commonwealth, state and territory government agencies are working together through the National Strategy's Information Sharing Working Group (ISWG) to explore options for strengthening child safety and wellbeing information sharing arrangements and to improve national consistency of working with children checks
  • The ISWG has commenced work on short to medium term projects, which will support longer-term working with children check reform, including:
    • pursuing the standardisation of working with children checks.
    • promoting inclusion of working with children check processes by considering accessibility for all priority groups identified in the National Strategy.
    • consulting with communities to ensure equitable access to working with children check information and materials.

State and territory working with children checks information

A single screening unit has been set up in each state and territory to conduct working with children checks and issue the resulting cards, registrations or permits. The following state and territory screening units are the only organisations allowed, under legislation, to conduct working with children checks:

Components

If you or a child are in immediate danger, call Triple Zero (000).

Information on reporting child safety concerns can be found on our Make a report page.

Get support

The information on this website may bring up strong feelings and questions for many people. There are many services available to assist you. A detailed list of support services is available on our Get support page.