CSOs undertaking national police history checks

This procedure is to be followed by community service organisations (CSOs) undertaking national police history checks.

Introduction

This procedure is followed by community service organisations (CSOs) undertaking national police history checks in the context of screening and approving residential carers, foster carers or lead tenants to care for child protection clients.

A national police history check is a check of disclosable offences by the person in all Australian states and territories.

Policy

Funded organisations are required to undertake national police history checks as part of foster carer and lead tenant approval processes and residential carer employee recruitment. Direct client contact roles also require a Working with Children Check (WWCC).

Pre-approval/employment national police history check requirements are additional to and distinct from WWCC requirements and the requirements of the carer register.

An offer of employment in a client contact role or approval of a volunteer foster carer or lead tenant must not occur until the national police history check has been completed.

A national police history check is required for:

Residential care

  • a direct client contact employee must undergo a national police history check prior to any offer of engagement or employment being made and a new national police history check must be undertaken not less than once during each period of three years
  • staff from a labour hire agency (including casual and relieving staff) to be placed in a client contact role within the organisation must undergo a national police history check prior to being engaged and a new national police history check must be undertaken not less than once during each period of three years
  • employees moving from a non-client contact role to a client contact role must undergo a national police history check prior to undertaking client contact functions
  • staff from any source providing services in the residential setting where there is client contact or the potential for client contact, such as volunteers, tutors or recreational staff must undergo a national police history check prior to being engaged.

Foster care and lead tenants

  • a volunteer foster carer or lead tenant must undergo a national police history check prior to being approved to care and a new national police history check must be undertaken not less than once during each period of three years
  • usual members of the household in home-based settings (including spouses/partners, children aged 18 and older and persons who regularly stay overnight) must undergo a national police history check prior to any child being placed and a new national police history check must be undertaken not less than once during each period of three years
  • a foster carer or lead tenant applying for accreditation with another organisation requires a new national police history check. This requirement also applies to the usual members of the household in home-based settings.

Changes to composition of household

Wherever practical, approval should be obtained by foster carers from their CSO prior to any new adult taking up residence in their home. CSOs should advise foster carers of this expectation as part of the accreditation process and must have processes in place to enable foster carers to seek approval prior to a person aged 18 years or older entering the household and to alert the CSO manager immediately should the carer's household composition change without prior knowledge and approval.

A national police history check must be undertaken by the CSO at the earliest opportunity, and an assessment completed of the impact of this change in the household on any client in the placement.

Where a national police history check results in a disclosable outcome, this must be handled as described below.

Where a person refuses consent to a national police history check, they cannot be approved to remain in the home, and the matter must be referred to the CSO senior program manager and immediately brought to the attention of the departmental divisional Deputy Secretary and the divisional Director Client Outcomes and Service Improvement (COSI).

Where any person has a Category A offence they must not be permitted to enter or remain within the household while a child protection client is placed there unless written endorsement has been obtained from the Director of the Office of Professional Practice (located at the department’s head office, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne) and the Divisional Deputy Secretary.

Procedure

CSO employee tasks

  • Advise the subject of the national police history check:
    • that the information is being collected as a legal or policy requirement to minimise risk to children in out-of-home care
    • that the information is required as an endorsed policy standard and that the CSO is required to collect the information as part of their contractual arrangement with the department
    • that if they decline to consent to the national police history check, the application for employment or accreditation as a carer will not proceed
    • the CSO information management and privacy processes
    • that the department will be consulted about any disclosable information obtained through the national police history check process prior to finalisation of the application for employment or accreditation as a carer.
  • Sight and make a copy of the carer’s photo identification to ensure consistency with the national police check application.
  • Apply for a national police history check from Victoria Police or through an agency accredited by the Australian Criminal Intellgience Commission.

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), also known as the Australian Crime Commission (and previously known as CrimTrac) is the national information sharing service for Australian police, law enforcement and national security agencies. A list of agencies accredited by the ACIC can be found at the ACIC web site.

  • Obtain written consent of the carer to undertake a national police history check using the prescribed form provided by Victoria Police Consent to check and release national police record form or the form provided by a ACIC accredited agency. See National police history check forms.
  • Obtain written consent to allow Victoria Police or the ACIC accredited agency to send the National Police Certificate (the results of the national police history check) to the CSO.

For the National Police Certificate to be sent to the CSO, when completing the ‘Victoria Police – Consent to Check and Release National Police Record Form’:

  • In Section C under Postal address, in the space provided for 'Unit number/street number', write 'RETURN TO ORGANISATION' and enter the suburb and postcode of the CSO, and
  • In Section D under 'Name of Employer/organisation's representative' write 'NCRC' and under 'Title of representative' write 'COORDINATOR'.
  • If the check is required to enable an emergency care arrangement, consult with the divisional manager of the Local Connections Team about whether results will be available in a timely manner, or whether child protection should undertake the national police history check.

International national police history checks

  • Where a person seeking employment in a client contact role or accreditation as a foster carer or lead tenant has resided overseas for a cumulative period of 12 months or longer, contact the relevant overseas police agencies to obtain an international police history check after sighting photo identification.
  • Where an international police history check cannot be completed by the overseas country, obtain referee checks if possible from three or more individuals who personally knew the carer while they were residing in the other country or countries.
  • Advise the applicant that referees will be asked whether they have knowledge or information concerning the applicant, which would adversely affect the applicant’s suitability for employment or accreditation, including any relevant criminal offences.
  • Verify the credentials of persons acting as referees.
  • Overseas applicants should not commence until this process is satisfactorily completed and decisions are endorsed by the CSO program manager.

Information and guidance about international police history checks can be found at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

Community Service Organisation Program Manager tasks

  • Assess the results of the national police history check.

Where the national police history check reveals disclosable offences

Where a person has a criminal record, this does not automatically preclude the applicant from employment as a residential carer or accreditation as a foster carer or lead tenant.  The relevant manager will manage the assessment process to determine the person’s suitability.

  • Interview the person about the results of the check.
  • Make an assessment of the disclosable national police history and consider:
    • the nature of each offence and their relationship to the role the person is seeking
    • the time since each offence took place
    • whether the person was convicted or found guilty and placed on a bond
    • the pattern and extent of offending
    • whether offences were committed as an adult or a juvenile
    • penalties imposed
    • whether offences are now decriminalised
    • the person's conduct, so far as this can be determined, since the most recent offence was committed, and
    • whether there are other relevant factors for consideration.
  • Discuss the assessment with the relevant departmental divisional Director Child Protection or Assistant Director Child Protection if it is the intention of the CSO to accredit or employ the person.
  • Receive written advice from the department indicating whether the person may be employed as a residential carer or accredited as a volunteer foster carer or lead tenant prior to employment.
  • Where the person is not cleared by the department to be employed as a residential carer or accredited as a volunteer foster carer or lead tenant, inform the person of the decision, the rationale and the appeal process.
  • Ensure that all details of the national police history check are recorded including:
    • identifying details of the subject of the check, including proof of identity documentation
    • the date of the check
    • the names and roles of CSO staff involved in the check process – critically those who review and assess the results of the check
    • the review process, decisions and dates
    • whether the check is clear or contains disclosable matters.

National police history check information must be handled in a manner which safeguards it from unauthorised access. Documentation (consent forms, proof of identity documentation and information provided about the person’s national police history) should be used and stored in accordance with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 and any contractual requirements with the ACIC accredited agency.

  • If a national police history check discloses a criminal history for an applicant for employment or accreditation (or in the context of an applicant to be a home based carer, a member of their household) document the assessment and decision-making process undertaken and the outcome on whether the individual is to be employed or approved as a carer. CSOs should have a standardised method of recording and storing this information; this method should be known and understood by all program staff.

Where a person’s national police history includes a Category A offence

  • Do not engage a person whose criminal history includes a Category A offence in any client contact role without the written approval of the Director of the Office of Professional Practice (located at the department’s head office, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne) and the Divisional Deputy Secretary.
  • Do not permit a person whose criminal history includes a Category A offence to enter or remain within the household while a child protection client is placed there unless written endorsement has been obtained from the Director of the Office of Professional Practice (located at the department’s head office, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne).

Category A offences include serious offences, including murder, rape, child pornography as an adult or sexual offences committed as an adult against a child. Refer to 2358 Categorisation of offences for guidance about what comprises a Category A offence.

Director Child Protection or Assistant Director Child Protection tasks

  • In cases where a CSO advises you that the CSO intends to employ or accredit a person in a direct service role who has disclosable offences, consider the assessment of the CSO manager and decide whether the CSO may employ or accredit that person. You may also consult with the Director of the Office of Professional Practice in reaching your decision.
  • In cases where a CSO advises you that the household composition of a client’s placement has changed and that it includes a household member who has disclosable offences, consider the assessment of the CSO manager and decide whether the placement should continue. You may also consult with the Director of the Office of Professional Practice in reaching your decision.
  • Advise the Director Client Outcomes and Service Improvement of the discussion and outcome.
  • Advise the CSO in writing whether or not they may employ or accredit a person as a residential carer, a volunteer foster carer or a lead tenant in the event they have disclosable offence.
  • Advise the CSO in writing whether or not a placement can continue if a household member has a disclosable offence.
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