In South Australia, key child safety responsibilities for sport and recreation relate to:
Under section 8B of the Children’s Protection Act 1993, government and non-government organisations providing services to children are required to undertake a relevant history assessment:
Choosing suitable employees and volunteers is required to establish and maintain a child safe environment. Therefore it is expected that all employees and volunteers will also undergo referee and qualification checks.
Penalties of up to $10,000 may apply for non-compliance. For further information https://www.education.sa.gov.au/child-protection/child-safe-environments/relevant-history-assessments-child-safe-environments
The assessment of criminal history information is only required for prescribed positions which are persons who are in regular contact with children over a period longer than 10 days or regularly more than one day in any month. Organisations may accept criminal history evidence from other sources. It is advisable to check that they meet the working with children legislation in their own state and seek additional background information - https://www.education.sa.gov.au/child-protection/child-safe-environments/obligations-organisations-crossing-state-and-territory-borders
Information regarding the obligation for mandatory notification of suspected child abuse should be provided to all employees/volunteers working in sporting and recreation activities.
The Children’s Protection Act 1993 requires the assessment to be conducted on a police check as the minimum however many organisations are now requesting a higher level of assessment as provided by the Department of Human Services (DHS) screening unit. Always check with the organisation before proceeding with an application.
A National Police Certificate application may be completed online through SAPOL. A responsible person for the organisation must then sight the original NPC when presented by an individual and complete an assessment on the information provided on this report. The outcome of this assessment must be recorded along with the date and number of the certificate.
For volunteers in sporting and recreation organisations this may be available at no charge through the State organisation. (see below)
The DHS screening is a centralised, consistent and confidential approach for obtaining a relevant history assessment for child related employment. The screening process needs to be started by the organisation requiring the screening, and is completed by the individual applicant - https://screening.sa.gov.au/apply.
If an individual is asked to undergo a relevant history assessment they must provide an original criminal history report (police check) to the organisation to be assessed or present an original completed screening from the DHS screening unit. It is their responsibility to apply for these.
The National Police Certificate belongs to the individual and not the organisation requesting it and therefore it cannot be copied or retained by the organisation for longer than 3 months.
National Police Check
When an organisation is a member or affiliated club or association of a larger organisation, a VOAN (Volunteer Organisation Authorisation Number) will be provided to the central body only and may only be used by those individuals authorised by SAPOL.
If the VOAN applies, the application is free and the form must be lodged through the State body.
DHS Screening Unit
From 1 November 2018 volunteer screening will be free for all South Australians.
This cost includes conducting the relevant history, background information check, a confidential and comprehensive assessment and assessment outcome letter to the individual applicant and an email to the requesting organisation.
This depends on the policy of the organisation requesting the criminal history report. The organisation should advise their employees or volunteers of the required procedure for obtaining the assessment.
The range of information that is assessed includes:
In some cases, information from professional accreditation bodies regarding people disciplined and/or precluded from working with children or vulnerable adults will be taken into account.
Interpreting criminal history information when undertaking a relevant history assessment can be difficult and you may require guidance to determine whether the applicant can be employed/volunteer in a particular role.
The Department for Education have a comprehensive document - Child safe environments: Standards for dealing with information obtained about a person’s criminal history as part of a relevant history assessment, which is available on the website.
Alternatively the DHS Screening Unit can obtain and assess the criminal history report for your organisation. The branch is also able to provide advice on assessment guidelines.
For more information visit https://screening.sa.gov.au/home
Contact: 1300 321 592, or email [email protected]
Under the current legislation criminal history assessments are valid for a period of three years.
Organisations may at their discretion accept the following types of evidence which has been obtained within the last three years:
In accepting other evidence, there must be compatibility between the roles of the organisation (based on a risk assessment) and the criminal history reports obtained (i.e. the document has been obtained for the purpose for working with children.
For further information regarding the transferability of criminal history information see the Standards for dealing with information obtained about a person’s criminal history as part of a relevant history assessment
Who is required to report child abuse?
In South Australia certain people are required by law to make a report if they suspect on reasonable grounds that a child or young person (any person aged under 18 years) is being abused or neglected and this suspicion is formed in the course of their paid or voluntary work. Any person who is an employee of, or volunteer in, a government or non-Government organisation that provides sporting or recreational, services wholly or partly for children, being a person who:
(a) is engaged in the actual delivery of those services to children; or
(b) holds a management position in the relevant organisation the duties of which include direct responsibility for, or direct supervision of, the provision of those services to children;
(c) are mandated notifiers.
The organisation which engages you has an obligation to make all volunteers and employees aware of this responsibility. From 22 October 2018 mandated notification legislation is under the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017, replacing parts of the Children’s Protection Act 1993 (SA).
The new legislation introduces new terminology. Mandated notification is the reporting of a suspicion on reasonable grounds that a child or young person is, or may be at risk. There is no change to the intent of the legislation.
It is not compulsory for all staff and volunteers in recreation and sport organisations to attend formal Child Safe Environments (mandated notifier) training.
It is recommended that recreation and sport clubs and recreation centres instead have a 'Child Safe Officer' who is trained and is able to pass on information to others. For information in Child Safe Officer courses go to the Office for Recreation and Sport website.
It is recommended that all persons in recreation and sport organisations who are mandated notifiers undertake the FREE online training in Child Protection Online Course and Harassment and Discrimination Online Course provided by Play by the Rules.
What are reporting responsibilities?
As a mandated notifier you must make a report if you have any reasonable suspicion of neglect and/or abuse and you need to make that report without delay. As a mandatory reporter you need to be aware that:
Are there penalties involved for failing to report? Yes. There may be a penalty for failing to meet the mandated notifier obligations.
Can anyone stop me from making a report? No - A person must not threaten or intimidate, or cause damage, loss or disadvantage to, a person to whom this obligation applies because the person has discharged, or proposes to discharge, his or her duty.
Are there any exemptions? No – There are no exemptions from this obligation, even for sporting teams, coaches, and officials visiting from other states or territories.
How do I make a report?
Does my obligation end once I have made a report? No - A person does not necessarily exhaust his or her duty of care to a child by giving a notification under this section. You may also have an obligation under your organisation’s Child Safe or Member Protection Policy to make an internal report to the organisation.
All organisations providing services within South Australia, including national and state based sporting and recreation organisations, are required under the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 (replacing parts of the Children's Protection Act 1993), to adapt policies and procedures for ensuring that child-safe environments are established and maintained within their organisations.
Child-safe environment strategies are put in place to prevent and minimise opportunities for child abuse within your organisation including preventing offenders from gaining access to your organisation. They include ensuring your staff and volunteers understand their child protection obligations and that staff and volunteers know who to go to should they have suspicions a child may be at risk of harm. Organisations working to create child-safe environments and strengthen their environment are committed to and understand the importance of children’s safety.
Who is required under legislation to implement child safe environments?
Organisations within South Australia providing sporting and recreation services wholly or partly for children, are required under the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 to establish policies and procedures for ensuring that:
Requirements also apply to organisations that are based interstate and provide services in South Australia, for example national sporting championships.
What does establishing a child-safe environment involve?
1. Identify and analyse risk of harm
The organisation develops and implements a risk management strategy. This includes a review of existing child protection policies and practices to determine how child-safe and child-friendly the organisation is and the development of strategies to minimise and prevent risk of harm to children.
2. Develop codes of conduct for adults and children
The organisation has codes of conduct that specify standards of conduct and care when dealing and interacting with children, particularly those in the organisation’s care. The organisation also has codes of conduct to address appropriate behaviour between children. These codes set out professional boundaries, ethical behaviour and unacceptable behaviour.
3. Choose suitable employees and volunteers
The organisation takes all reasonable steps to ensure that it engages the most suitable and appropriate people to work with children. This is more likely to be achieved using a range of screening measures. All paid or volunteer persons holding a ‘prescribed position’ are required to complete a ‘relevant history assessment’, which must include a criminal history check, to be conducted by the organisation or they may apply to the DHS Screening Unit for a full criminal history screening unless an exemption applies. Organisations should aim to minimise the likelihood of engaging (or retaining) people who are unsuitable to work with children. If a criminal history report is obtained the organisation must ensure that the criminal history information is dealt with in accordance with the Standards developed by the Chief Executive of the Department for Education.
4. Support, train, supervise and enhance performance
The organisation ensures that volunteers and employees who work with children or their records have ongoing supervision, support and training to ensure they understand and can promote the establishment and maintenance of a child safe environment.
5. Empower and promote the participation of children in decision-making and service development
The organisation engages children and young people in developing and maintaining child safe environments.
6. Report and respond appropriately to suspected abuse and neglect
The organisation ensures that volunteers and employees are able to identify and respond to children at risk of harm. They understand that certain roles are mandated to report concerns to the child abuse repot line 13 14 78 but encourage a moral obligation for all to protect children.
7. Appropriately manage allegations of child abuse and neglect
South Australian Department for Child Protection
Office for Recreation and Sport - Managing allegation of Child Abuse in recreation and sport
Office of Recreation and Sport - Keeping children safe in recreation and sport
Extensive information regarding Child Safe Environments in SA is available from South Australian Department for Education. This includes:
Updated: October 2018