Kids running

In South Australia, child protection responsibilities for sport and recreation relate to:

Working with children checks

Information on this topic:

What is a working with children check in South Australia?

On 1 July 2019, South Australia introduced a working with children check.
A working with children check assesses whether a potential employee or volunteer could pose a risk to the safety of children.

 

A working with children check replaces the previous ‘relevant history’ assessments.

The new rules are in the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016.

 

When do I need to get a working with children check?

If you have a current, valid Department of Human Services/Department for Communities and Social Inclusion child-related employment screening, you can keep using it until it expires. You can apply for a new working with children check up to six months before your current screening expires.

If you have a National Police Certificate assessed by your organisation and use it to work or volunteer with children, you have until 1 July 2020 to get a new working with children check.

If you are a sole trader, working in partnership, contractor, or self-employed, a National Police Certificate is not a valid check for working with children. You must apply for a new working with children check.

Who assesses me?

South Australia’s Department of Human Services has responsibility for working with children checks. Staff of the Department’s Screening Unit assesses your eligibility to work with children.

Their working with children check is more detailed than a police check. A National Police Certificate is not a valid check for working with children.

Find out the difference between a police check and a working with children check. 

What do they check?

They check:

  • criminal history
  • information from South Australian government databases, such as child protection records from the Department for Child Protection and Care Concern investigations into the welfare of children in foster or state care
  • publicly available information from professional registration bodies to see if you have been or banned from working with children or vulnerable people
  • information from South Australian police, courts and prosecuting authorities including information about charges for alleged offences (regardless of the outcome)
  • expanded criminal history information from other police jurisdictions
  • any declarations you make when you apply for a working with children check

Do I only need a check once?

Your working with children check is valid no matter what role or job you perform in South Australia. You do not need to reapply when you take on a new role.

A working with children check is valid for five years unless you become a prohibited person, that is, someone who cannot have a working with children check.

After that you will need to be checked again.

The Screening Unit continuously monitors people who have working with children checks.

Who must have a check?

You must have a working with children check if you work in a ‘prescribed position’ that, is a position where:

  • you work with children
  • during the ordinary course of your duties, it is reasonably foreseeable that you will work with children.

This includes work you might do as a:

There are some people who do not need a check or who cannot get a check.

There are strict penalties for not conducting working with children check. Penalties of up to $120,000 may apply for non-compliance. For further information on penalties, visit https://screening.sa.gov.au/.

Who works with children?

You may work with children if your organisation or employer provides services or activities that the Child Safety Act defines as child-related work. The following services and activities are child-related work:

those provided by operating sporting, recreational, cultural or artistic clubs or associations with significant membership or involvement of children

  • coaching or tuition services for children
  • commercial services provided directly to children, including:
  • the sale or supply of goods or services where physical contact with children would be reasonably expected to occur
    • recreational services where contact with children would be reasonably expected to occur (such as a play gym)
    • entertainment services provided at children parties or events (such as face painting or the hire of bouncy castles)
    • entertainment services where a person appears or performs as a costumed character that is likely to appeal to children (such as a sports mascot or Santa Claus)
    • photography of children 
    • competitions held primarily for children, or where there is a children’s category (such as beauty pageants and talent shows)

Employees

You will need a working with children check if you do child-related work and are:

  • a salaried employee
  • self-employed
  • working under a contract for services
  • a tertiary student on practical training as part of an educational or vocational course

Volunteers

You will need a working with children check if you:

  • volunteer in any capacity to work with children or young people for more than seven days (consecutive or not) in a calendar year
  • volunteer in an overnight activity involving children (for example, a sports camp)
  • volunteer in any capacity to work closely with children with a disability
  • do unpaid community work in line with an order of a court
  • are a secondary student on practical training as part of an educational or vocational course

There is no fee for volunteers who need a working with children check.

Business operators

You will need a working with children check if you operate a business and employ someone who works with children. The Screening Unit charges a fee to do working with children checks for businesses. 

Interstate visitors

People who normally live outside South Australia and hold an equivalent check from their home state or territory do not need a South Australian working with children check as long as both of the following apply to the child-related work:

  • it occurs, or is to occur, in the course of an organised event
  • it does not exceed 10 consecutive days

Organised events include events organised and run by an association, club or other body as part of the official activities of the body.

Example: interstate people working at a five-day Australian Scout Jamboree will not need a working with children check.

When this does not apply

People who normally live outside South Australia and do not hold an equivalent check from their home state or state or territory, may qualify for the seven-day exclusion, otherwise they will need to get a working with children check if they want to work with children.

Anyone who is prohibited from working with children in their home state or territory cannot work or volunteer with children in South Australia.

Who doesn't need a check?

You do not need a working with children check if you:

  • are under the age of 14
  • are a parent or guardian volunteering with your own child and do not have close personal contact with other children or participate in an overnight activity
  • work for the South Australian Police or the Australian Federal Police
  • employ or supervise children in a workplace, unless the work is child-related
  • work in the same capacity as a child, unless the work is child-related
  • do not think you will work with children for more than seven days (consecutive or not) in a calendar year

Who cannot get a check?

You cannot get a check if you:

  • the Screening Unit has issued you a prohibition notice
  • are prohibited from working with children under Commonwealth law or a state or territory law
  • have been found guilty of a prescribed offence that you committed as an adult.

How do I get a check? 

To have a South Australian working with children check, apply online at https://screening.sa.gov.au/applications. Organisations may also apply on behalf employees and volunteers.

Do I have to pay? 

The Screening Unit charges a fee to do working with children checks for employees and businesses, including tertiary students are on practical training as part of an educational or vocational course.

There is no fee for volunteers who need a working with children check.

Report a child at risk

Information on this topic:

Who must report?

Some people have a legal duty to make a report if they suspect a child, or young person (any person aged under 18 years) is, or may be, at risk.

The law calls these people ‘mandated notifiers’.

When your organisation provides sporting or recreational services wholly or partly for children, you are a mandated notifier if you work as any of the following:

  • an employee
  • a volunteer
  • a manager with direct responsibility for supervising or providing services to children.

It is your personal responsibility to report a child at risk, not the responsibility of your manager or employer.

Your organisation must make you aware of this when you join.

Mandated notifiers also include sporting teams, coaches and officials visiting from other states or territories.

These rules are in the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017.

There may be penalties for mandated notifiers who do not report. A maximum penalty of $10,000 applies.

What to report?

You do not have to have proof. If you suspect that a child (anyone under 18) is at risk of harm, report it immediately. Your report needs to include a statement of your observations, information and opinions on which you base your suspicions.

You cannot be sued if you report your suspicions in good faith.

It is illegal for anyone to try and stop you from making a report by doing any of the following:

  • threatening you
  • intimidating you
  • causing you damage, loss or disadvantage.

How to report

If you believe a child is in immediate danger or in a life-threatening situation, contact the police immediately by dialling 000.

To report your suspicions (on reasonable grounds) that a child or young person is, or may be at risk, call the 24-hour Child Abuse Report Line on 13 14 78.

What happens next?

You may have obligations to also report your suspicions to your organisation. Check your organisation’s Child Safe or Member Protection Policy for details. 

Child safe environments

Information on this topic:

Does my organisation need to make a child-safe environment?

In South Australia, all organisations must adopt policies and procedures to ensure they establish and maintain child-safe environments within their organisations.

Organisations include:

  • national sport and recreation organisations based in South Australia
  • interstate organisations that provide services in South Australia, such as national sporting championships
  • South Australian sport and recreation organisations
  • any other organisation that provides sport and recreation services wholly or partly for children

These rules are in the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017.

Child-safe strategies promote safe and friendly settings where children feel respected, valued and encouraged to reach their full potential.

What policies and procedures do we need?

Your organisation must:

  • establish and maintain safe environments for children and young people
  • ensure your staff and volunteers understand their child protection obligations as mandated notifiers
  • ensure that staff and volunteers know who to go to should they suspect that a child may be at risk of harm
  • ensure all staff and volunteers working with children have a working with children check

It is good practice to have:

Steps to make a child-safe environment

1. Identify and analyse risk of harm

Your organisation should develop and implement a strategy to manage risk. This should include:

  • a review of existing child protection policies and practices to determine how child-safe and child-friendly your organisation is
  • actions to minimise and prevent risk of harm to children

2. Develop codes of conduct for adults and children

Your organisation should have a minimum of two codes:

  • a code of conduct that sets out professional boundaries, ethical behaviour and unacceptable behaviour will specify the standards of conduct and care for everyone who deals with and interacts with children in your organisation
  • a code of conduct that specifies what is appropriate behaviour between children

3. Choose suitable employees and volunteers

Your organisation must take all reasonable steps to ensure it engages the most suitable and appropriate people to work with children. You are more likely to achieve this by using a range of screening measures.

For example, your organisation should:

  • ensure appropriate recruitment practices and employment screening is undertaken for all paid or volunteer persons, which may include confirmation of education or qualifications, reference checks or face-to-face interview
    or
  • ensure all paid or volunteer persons holding a ‘prescribed position’, apply to the Department of Human Services’ Screening Unit for a Working with Children Check (unless an exemption applies)

4. Support, train, supervise and enhance performance

You should record all the steps your organisation takes to help volunteers and employees understand, promote, and maintain a child-safe environment

This includes any:

  • supervision
  • support
  • training

5. Empower and promote the participation of children in decision-making and service development

Your organisation must engage children and young people to develop and maintain a child-safe environment.

6. Report and respond appropriately to suspected abuse and neglect

Your organisation’s volunteers and employees must be able to identify and respond to children at risk of harm.

They should understand that if they work in certain roles, they not only have a moral obligation, but they are also legally obliged to report concerns to the Child Abuse Report Line.

7. Appropriately manage allegations of child abuse and neglect

Your organisation has clear procedures for dealing with concerns that a child or young person has been placed at risk by a volunteer or employee within your organisation.

Further information

Office of Recreation, Sport and Racing website
Department for Child Protection

Resources

South Australian Department for Child Protection
Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing - Keeping children safe in recreation and sport

Extensive information regarding Child Safe Environments in SA is available from the South Australian Department for Education. This includes:

Also see: Child Wise - 12 Standards for a Child Safe Organisation

 


Updated: December 2019