education.vic.gov.au

Policy

The purpose of this policy is to ensure schools and school leaders understand and comply with the legal requirements for undertaking suitability checks including Working with Children Checks for volunteers and visitors who work with children in government school environments.

Note: All references to 'schools' in this guidance includes school boarding premises.

Summary

Details

School leaders and school councils have a vital role in establishing a child safe culture through implementing and reviewing child safe policies and practices to minimise child abuse risks.

Victorian legislation requires schools, and other organisations working with children, to take specific steps to minimise the risk of child abuse. Both the Worker Screening Act 2020 (Vic) and Victoria’s Child Safe Standards establish requirements for schools to appropriately screen adults who will be working with children.

Note that in this policy, a reference to ‘visitors’ also includes a reference to contractors engaged by the school and employees of contracted service providers engaged by the school.

Schools and school councils must:

  • establish and implement school-level policies and procedures to assess and verify the suitability of volunteers and visitors who engage in child-related and child-connected work. Schools can establish local policies that exceed the requirements of the Worker Screening Act 2020 (Vic) if required.
  • comply with the Worker Screening Act 2020 (Vic) requirements to ensure that all adults engaging in child-related work (see definition below), whether paid or unpaid, have a current Working with Children Clearance (issued as the successful outcome of a Working with Children Check). For more information about when a Working with Children Check is required to be undertaken refer to the Guidance tab.
  • comply with the requirements of Ministerial Order 1359 – Implementing the Child Safe Standards – managing the risk of child abuse in schools and school boarding premises (PDF)External Link to:
    • sight, verify and record the person’s Working with Children clearance, if the person is required to have a clearance in accordance with the Worker Screening Act 2020, or any equivalent background check
    • consider the child safety risks relevant to the volunteer’s role and, if reasonable and appropriate, collect and record:
      • proof of personal identity
      • information about any essential or relevant professional or other qualifications
      • the person’s history of work involving children
      • references that address the person’s suitability for the job and for working with children
  • consider the child safety risks relevant to any volunteer role and assess what suitability checks should be undertaken. For more information about determining what additional checks may be appropriate, see Guidance tab.
  • follow this policy regarding suitability checks for volunteers and visitors (for employee checks refer to: Suitability for Employment Checks and the Recruitment in Schools Policy and Guidelines
  • verify the status of their Working with Children Clearance at least once every 12 months. The Working with Children Check website provides a Status Checker toolExternal Link to assist with this process.

Once initial suitability checks have been successfully undertaken, schools must also ensure that the ongoing supervision and people management of volunteers and other adults working with children focuses on child safety and wellbeing.

For more information, including assistance with determining whether work is child-related or child-connected work, refer to the Guidance tab.

Templates are available for schools

A school-level Visitor policy templateExternal Link and Volunteer policy templateExternal Link are available on the School Policy Templates PortalExternal Link (staff login required). Schools can modify the templates to suit their local circumstances.

Schools may increase requirements

The Worker Screening Act 2020 (Vic) sets out the minimum requirements in relation to Working with Children Checks.

Schools may also require anyone visiting the school or people engaged in child-connected work (who are not performing child-related work) to undertake a Working with Children Check, an/or other checks, to ensure that volunteers and visitors are adequately screened, considering the child safety risks relevant to the person’s role.

For more information on deciding when and what suitability checks may be required, refer to the Guidance tab.

Definitions

Child-related work
Child-related work:

  • involves an adult working with children under 18 years old (both paid and unpaid work)
  • usually involves direct contact with a child or children (physical, face-to-face, written, oral or electronic contact) and
  • the contact with the child or children is a usual part of the person’s duties (and is not occasional direct contact which is incidental to their work).

Child-connected work
Child-connected work means:

  • work authorised by the school governing authority and performed by an adult in a school environment while children are present or reasonably expected to be present, or
  • for the purposes of a school boarding premises, work authorised by the provider of school boarding services in a school boarding premises environment while children are present or reasonably expected to be present.

Definitions related to the Child Safe Standards and Ministerial Order 1359 can be found at: Child Safety: DefinitionsExternal Link .

Relevant legislation

Department policy on requirements for suitability checks including Working with Children Checks for volunteers and visitors who work with children in schools

Reviewed 16 January 2023

Policy last updated

12 July 2022

Scope

  • Schools
  • School councils

Contact

Wellbeing Workforces and Child Safety Unit

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