New Child Safety Laws – Update
Screening of employees and others for child-related work
In our last Client Briefing on Child Protection #2, we addressed the recent changes to the legislative regime in South Australia, including the new requirements for policies and procedures for organisations involved in child-related work, for mandatory reporting and for screening of employees and other persons. We undertook, in that briefing, to provide you with an update on the transitional arrangements from the relevant history assessments, including police criminal history reports, which were accepted for screening purposes under the old regime, to the working with children checks as required under the new regime commencing 1 July 2019 (under the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (SA)).
There is a transitional regime for screening checks that has been passed and is due to commence on 1 July 2019 with the primary legislation. The transitional regime is contained in the Children’s Protection Law Reform (Transitional Arrangements and Related Amendments) Act 2017. Amendments to the transitional regime were passed on 16 May 2019 in the Statutes Amendment (Screening) Act 2019, but a commencement date for those amendments has not yet been gazetted.
We expect that the full set of transitional provisions will commence on 1 July 2019.
The bottom line is that relevant organisations and persons can continue to rely upon their previous screenings through police reports or otherwise, provided that those reports were obtained in the three years before 1 July 2019, until their expiry or until 1 July 2020, whichever is earlier. There are, however, specific transitional arrangements in relation to teachers, persons employed in a registered children’s services centres under the Children’s Services Act 1985 (SA), registered health practitioners, foster parents, licensed foster care agencies and children’s residential facilities, training centres, passenger transport services and emergency services workers.
Guidance as to whether and when employees or other relevant persons will be required to obtain the new working with children check is now also provided through the web page of the Department of Humans Services (DHS): https://dhs.sa.gov.au. We attach below for your reference an email update from DHS entitled “Working with Children Check”, 18 June 2019.
It is very important that organisations involved in working with children also now become familiar with the other requirements under the new Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, in particular in relation to the notification of “assessable information” in relation to persons employed or otherwise engaged in prescribed positions. This is in addition to the mandatory reporting obligations under the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 (SA). The required notifications will need to be made to the (to be established) Central Assessment Unit, which presumably will also be formed under the auspices of the DHS.
This client briefing is not legal advice but for information only.
If the information contained in this client briefing has raised some concerns about your current arrangements and you would like legal advice, please contact our office on (08) 7120 9000 and ask to speak with either Geoff Adams (Director).
We look forward to being of assistance to you.
[The below text is taken from a Working with Children Check email from the South Australian Government.]
Changes to screening
South Australia has introduced stronger, more effective, and transparent screening laws for people working or volunteering with children.
The new laws mean that, from 1 July 2019, everyone working or volunteering with children must have valid child-related screening.
The new working with children check (WWCC) that is being introduced from 1 July 2019 replaces the current system, where people can have either a Department of Human Services (DHS) child-related employment screening, or a National Police Certificate assessed by their employer/volunteer-involving organisation.
Key changes include:
- WWCCs replace all other types of child-related employment screening checks.
- people can apply for their own WWCC, to help them be job-ready
- organisations can no longer use National Police Certificates for people working or volunteering with children. Only the South Australian Department of Human Services (DHS) Screening Unit can do a WWCC.
- a WWCC is valid for five years and is portable across organisations and roles in South Australia.
There will be transitional arrangements to make it easier for people to move to the new scheme.
- All current, valid DHS/DCSI child-related employment screening clearances will be recognised as WWCCs under the law, until they expire.
- Certain industries will have staggered entry times to the new scheme, to help them transition smoothly.
- National Police Certificates assessed by organisations are valid for working with children until 1 July 2020.
For most people working or volunteering with children, the transitional arrangements mean they don’t need to do anything to be ready for the new laws starting on 1 July 2019.
Affected organisations are also encouraged to download the ‘Working with children check information kit’ from the Screening Unit’s website, which will help them promote the changes to their volunteers or employees.
For more information, visit screening.sa.gov.au/wwcc