26 September 2023

Extra vetting for child-related work

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The Department of Communities says new laws make it harder for people who have committed certain offences, or engaged in certain conduct, to obtain a Working with Children Card.

It said there had been an expansion of criminal offences that triggered an automatic negative notice. It is an offence to carry out child-related work while holding a negative notice.

The Department said other key changes to the legislation included preventing anyone with a current interim negative notice or negative notice being able to use parent volunteer or child volunteer exemptions.

The Working with Children Screening Unit could now receive conduct review findings or outcomes from the Teacher Registration Board of WA and the Ombudsman WA, which could trigger a reassessment of an individual’s Working with Children Card.

Working with Children cardholders and applicants must now notify the Working with Children Screening Unit of a change in personal details, contact details or child-related work status (starting or ceasing).

There are fines of up to $60,000 and five years’ imprisonment that may apply to employees, volunteers, or organisations that breach the new regulations.

Minister for Child Protection, Sabine Winton said modernising these laws would further support children to safely enjoy everyday activities like sport and schooling.

“Importantly, these updated laws will also give authorised officers powers to investigate suspected offences or determine compliance with the Act, to help keep children safe,” Ms Winton said.

“While these changes will improve one of our vital child-safe systems, it is important to acknowledge that protecting children is everyone’s responsibility.”

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