Girl running on athletics track

In the ACT, key child safety responsibilities for sport and recreation relate to:

Working with Vulnerable People Checks (children and vulnerable adults)

The Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Act 2011 (the Act) commenced operation in November 2012. The Act introduces a requirement for people who have contact with vulnerable people (children and vulnerable adults) in the course of engaging in certain regulated activities and services to be registered with Access Canberra.

The Act introduces a phased approach for registrations over a 6-year period, meaning that different regulated activities and services are captured each year. Clubs, associations and movements, (including sporting clubs) are captured in year 3 of the scheme’s operation. From 7 November 2015, people who engage in regulated activities and services as part of a club, association or movement will be required to obtain a registration.

The Background Checking system will impact on the sport and recreation sector as sporting and recreational bodies with significant membership or involvement by children will be captured. However, the Background Checking will apply a consistent risk assessment framework and decision making process.   

Applicants who pose low or no ongoing risk to vulnerable people will be registered for up to 3 years. Excluding those who are exempt, people who are not registered will be prohibited from working with vulnerable people in the ACT.

Sporting organisations should also note the following two points:

  1. Under the legislation any employee or volunteer that meets the requirements of registration and is involved in activities or services involving an overnight stay with vulnerable people in the ACT (such as a children’s overnight camp or sports trip)must obtain a registration.
  2. Any employee or volunteer that meets the requirements of registration and is picked by under the legislation prior to 8 November 2014 because of their work in another role (e.g. a teacher that coaches her daughter’s netball team) must obtain their registration within the timeframe provided under the legislation for that purpose.

Sporting organisations and individuals need to consider whether they require a WWVP Registration. If an individual meets the requirements explained above in points 1 or 2, then they are required to obtain a WWVP Check. If there is not a legal requirement for individuals to obtain a WWVP Check it is highly recommended that a National Police Check is obtained by the sporting organisation for people that work with children. This will assist your organisation meet its duty of care towards children, and other members of your organisation.

Are there penalties for not obtaining a Working with Vulnerable People registration? It is an offence to work with vulnerable people without a registration. Offences apply to the person and in certain circumstances, the employer.

Where can I apply? People will be able to submit a completed application for registration at any Access Canberra Service Centre throughout the ACT. The Working with Vulnerable People Application for Registration is available online at www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au.

Who has to apply? Anyone who has contact with children or vulnerable adults in the course of engaging in a regulated activity or service (i.e. children’s sporting coaches, managers, scorers etc.).

How much does it cost? An application fee of $79 applies to people who are employed to work with vulnerable people. Registration is free for volunteers, however, applicants who volunteer in a regulated activity and also work in another will be required to pay the $79 application fee.

Who is responsible for payment? In accordance with the Act, the individual is responsible for the payment of the fee at the time of application.

What does the Background History Check cover? Access Canberra will conduct a risk assessment in accordance with the Risk Assessment Guidelines. The Guidelines define how relevant information will be treated in determining a person’s application. The risk assessment process includes a review of the individuals criminal history including any conviction of, or finding of guilt against the person for a relevant offence e.g. convictions for sexual offences, offences against a person, offences involving violence, offences involving dishonesty or fraud, offences relating to property, offences involving possession of or trafficking in a drug of dependence or a controlled drug, offences against an animal and driving offences. The criminal history review includes spent and unspent convictions.

More information:

Access Canberra www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au
Phone 13 22 81  Email [email protected]

Reporting child abuse and neglect

  • If you believe a child or young person is in immediate danger or in a life-threatening situation, contact the Police immediately by dialling 000.
  • If you think a crime has occurred, phone ACT Policing on 131 444.

Who is legislatively required to report abuse or neglect?

Mandated Reporters: are adults who must report when they believe a child or young person has experienced or is experiencing sexual abuse or a non-accidental physical injury and this belief arises from information obtained during the course of their work (whether paid or not paid).

Mandated reporters are identified in the Children and Young People Act 2008. These include: doctors, dentists, nurses, enrolled nurses, midwives, teacher/teachers aid at a school, a police officer, a person employed to counsel children at a school, a person caring for children at a child care centre, a person coordinating home based care for a family daycare scheme, a public servant working with or providing services personally to children,young people or families.

Although many people working and volunteering in sporting and recreation organisations may not be mandatory reporters, it is important that staff and volunteers consider the importance of protecting children and young people from abuse and neglect. The protection of children is everyone’s business. Play by the Rules supports the reporting of concerns when children or young people are believed to have been or being abused or neglected.

Voluntary Reports: all members of the community may make a voluntary report if they believe or suspect that a child or young person is being abused or neglected or is at risk of being abused or neglected. Abuse includes sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse, including psychological abuse and exposure to domestic violence.

Prenatal Reports: members of the community may also make a prenatal report if they believe or suspect that a child who may be born as a result of the pregnancy may be in need of care and protection.

All mandatory, voluntary and prenatal reports are made to Care and Protection Services. For more information go to Child and Youth Protection Services Community Services Directorate, ACT Government.

Are there penalties involved for failing to report?

Mandated reporters who do not make a report may commit an offence punishable by a financial penalty, imprisonment or both. The exception to this obligation is if the reporter is aware that someone else has already made a report in relation to the same incident of abuse.It is an offence to make a false or misleading mandatory, voluntary or prenatal report,punishable by a financial penalty, imprisonment or both. An offence is not committed if a person does not make a voluntary or prenatal report.

How am I protected when I make a report?

The identity of reporters is protected by the secrecy provisions of the Children and Young People Act 2008. This prevents the provision of information to others about a reporter or information that would allow the reporter to be identified.

What gets reported?

A report is made to Care and Protection Services providing the details of the child or young person - including their name, age/date of birth, address and parents names (if available)and the details of your concerns. You do not have to have proof and you do not have to ask the child questions to confirm your belief or suspicion. This is the role of Care and Protection Services caseworkers. Reports may be made during business and after hours at the numbers identified below.You may also make a report by emailing concerns to [email protected] or via an online form. Please ensure you include the information outlined above in your email. You maybe contacted by a worker if further discussion of your concerns is required.You may wish to not provide your personal details. You can make an anonymous report.

Where to make a report?

  • Contact Child and Youth Protection Services within the Community Services Directorate on one of the following numbers:
  • Mandated Reporters: 1300 556 728 Fax: 6205 0641 
  • Email Child Protection Reports to [email protected]
  • General Public Contact Number: 1300 556 729
  • After Hours Crisis Services: 1300 556 729

Child safe environments

Introducing child-safe measures will help your organisation to manage risks and work towards keeping children and young people safe. Child-safe measures prevent and minimise opportunities for child abuse within your organisation, including initiatives and ideas to prevent offenders from gaining access to children within your organisation. Child-safe measures include ensuring your staff and volunteers understand their child protection obligations and that staff and volunteers know who to contact should they believe or suspect a child may be at risk of abuse or neglect.

Organisations working to create child-safe environments understand that the care and protection of children is everybody’s responsibility and ensure that all members are aware of their rights and responsibilities in regards to protecting children.

What does establishing a child-safe environment involve?

It requires putting a range of strategies in place to ensure the safety of children, prevent offenders from gaining access to children within your organisation and reducing opportunities for abuse or neglect. These strategies include:

  • Understanding the different types of child abuse
  • Identifying potential risks and dangers to children (e.g. going away on camps) and managing those risks
  • Developing guidelines and processes that clearly outline how to respond to child protection issues
  • Choosing staff with care
  • Ensuring that Codes of Conduct for employees and volunteers are adequate and promoted among members
  • Outlining standards of care for ensuring the safety of children and processes to address harassment, discrimination bullying or other inappropriate behaviour.
  • Seeking feedback from children who are involved in your organisation, and using this feedback in reviewing how your organisation operates
  • Promoting that the organisation is places the safety and welfare of children first and is committed to providing a child safe environment, particularly when advertising vacant positions (including volunteer positions)
  • Obtaining Working with Vulnerable People checks for any employees/volunteers that engage with children, even if they are not legislated to obtain a check
  • Conducting referee checks (particularly with previous child-related employers, if possible)
  • Nominating a child protection officer and/or Member Protection Information Officer who members can s discuss their concerns
  • Ensuring that all staff (paid and volunteers) understand their mandatory / ethical reporting obligations for suspected child abuse and neglect.
  • Ensuring staff have a clear understanding of acceptable/ unacceptable behaviour and know who to contact to in regards to concerns they may have.
  • Talking openly about the importance of ensuring the safety of children within your organisation.

Updated: August 2017