27 September 2023

Working with Children Checks made stronger

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Laws strengthening Working with Children Checks which will better protect children from harm have been introduced into Parliament.

In a statement, the Department of Communities said the Working with Children Checks provided a screening process for people undertaking paid or unpaid child-related work.

“Under the proposed changes to the Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004, criminal offences that trigger an automatic Negative Notice will be expanded,” the Department said.

“It is an offence to carry out child-related work whilst holding a Negative Notice,” it said.

“Convictions for all sexual offences against children, and violent offences against children that involve intent to kill or cause life-threatening harm, will result in an automatic Negative Notice, if committed when an adult.

“This will also apply if charges are pending.”

It said offences such as persistent family violence, and suffocation and strangulation, will also result in a Negative Notice unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The Department said authorised officers would have the capacity to execute entry warrants to investigate suspected offences under the Act or determine compliance.

“Information gathering and sharing powers will be strengthened, including between WA Police and the Department of Communities,” it said.

It noted that applications for Working with Children Checks were growing every year.

“In the 2021-22 financial year the Department received more than 146,000 applications.”

For employees, volunteers, or organisations who breach their obligations under the Working with Children Act, fines of up to $60,000 and five years jail can apply.

Information about the Working with Children Checks can be found at this PS News link.

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