Vulnerable Persons, Police Checks and Criminal Offences

Working with Vulnerable Persons

The Department's policy is that Persons (including sub-contractors and volunteers) who are working with, or are in contact with, Vulnerable Persons are to be appropriately screened for that purpose.
Vulnerable Persons for this purpose means:

  • a) a Child or Children; or
  • b) an individual aged 18 years and above who is or may be unable to take care of themselves, or is unable to protect themselves against harm or exploitation by reason of age, illness, trauma or disability, or any other reason.

Police and appropriate person check/Criminal Offences

Prior to engaging, deploying or redeploying any Person in relation to a grant activity or part of an activity involving Vulnerable Persons, grant recipients must not deploy, redeploy or engage any personnel to work on or in relation to any Activity involving Vulnerable Persons without:

  • (a) conducting a Police Check for that Person; and
  • (b) confirming that the Person is not prohibited under a law of the Commonwealth, State or Territory from being employed or engaged in any capacity where they may have contact with Vulnerable Persons; and
  • (c) complying with all other requirements of applicable laws of the Commonwealth, State or Territory, in which the Activity or part of the Activity is being conducted in relation to employment of Persons or engagement of Persons in any capacity where they may have contact with Vulnerable Persons; and
  • (d) being responsible for the cost of Police Checks and for providing verification to DSS that Police Checks have been conducted, if requested.

When a Police Check is conducted it may reveal that a current or potential employee, sub-contractor or volunteer has a criminal conviction or findings of guilt recorded against their name. An assessment is made of the information provided in the Police Check.

Grant recipients must not deploy, redeploy or engage a Person where the Police Check for that Person states they have a Serious, Criminal or Court Record.

Where a Police Check indicates that the Person has a Serious, Criminal or Court Record, the grant recipient must:

  • (a) conduct and document a risk assessment in compliance with this policy and document the actions that will be undertaken as a result of conducting a risk assessment of that Person.
  • (b) agree that, whenever they become aware that a Person undertaking the Activity, or any part of the Activity, has been charged or convicted of any Serious or Other Offence, they will:
    • suspend the Person from performing the Activity or any part of the Activity;
    • conduct a [[risk assessment]] in compliance with this policy within 24 hours of becoming aware of that Person being charged or convicted; and
    • document the actions they will take as a result of conducting the risk assessment of that Person, before allowing that Person to continue performing the Activity or any part of the Activity.

The grant recipient will be wholly responsible for conducting the risk assessment, assessing the outcome of the risk assessment and making any decision to engage, deploy or redeploy a Person, who has a Serious, Criminal or Court Record, to work on any Activity, or any part of an Activity.

Mandatory Requirements

Legislation governing protection of Vulnerable Persons varies according to the particular State or Territory in which the Grant Recipient operates so there is currently no overarching national approach.
Grant Recipients must comply with relevant State or Territory legislation including laws governing child protection issues.

Where Police Checks are not mandatory in a particular State or Territory, Grant Recipients must comply with this DSS Policy as notified, referred or made available in writing (including by reference to an internet site), in order to be eligible for Commonwealth Grants.

Existing checking systems such as Blue Cards in Queensland are acceptable in lieu of standard police checks. This reduces the impost on organisations to undergo police checks if another similar check by appropriate authorities has already occurred.

Undertaking the Risk Assessment

In undertaking your risk assessment you agree to take into account the following factors:

  • whether the Person's Serious, Criminal or Court Record is directly relevant to the role the person will or is likely to perform in relation to the Activity or any part of the Activity;
  • the length of time that has passed since the Person's conviction and the person's record since that time;
  • the nature of the offence pertaining to the Serious, Criminal or Court Record and the circumstances in which it occurred;
  • whether the offence involved Vulnerable Persons;
  • the nature of the Activity and the circumstances in which the Person will or is likely to have contact with Vulnerable Persons;
  • the particular role the Person is proposed to or is currently undertaking in relation to the Activity and whether the fact the Person has a Serious, Criminal or Court Record is reasonably likely to impair the person's ability to perform or continue to perform the inherent requirements of that role; and
  • the suitability of the Person based on their merit, experience and references to perform the role the Person is proposed to or is currently undertaking in relation to the Activity or any part of the Activity.

After taking into account the factors set out above you agree to then determine whether it is reasonably necessary to:

  • not engage, deploy or redeploy the Person in relation to the Activity or any part of the Activity;
  • remove the Person from working in any position or acting in any capacity in relation to the Activity or any part of the Activity which involves working or having contact with Vulnerable Persons; or
  • make particular arrangements or impose conditions under which the Person's engagement, employment or redeployment in relation to the Activity or any part of the Activity and, where relevant, contact with Vulnerable Persons is to occur, in order to protect the physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing of the Vulnerable Persons to whom the Activity relates.

If we require you must promptly provide evidence, in a form determined by us that you have complied with the requirements of this policy.

You agree to reflect your obligations under this policy in all subcontracts you enter into in relation to the Activity or part of the Activity.

Definitions

  • "Activity" means any tasks, activities, services or other purposes for which funding is provided.
  • Blue card” means the blue card issued by the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian once it has carried out the blue card check to see if a person is eligible to work in the areas of child-related work covered by the Commission’s Act. If a person is eligible, they are issued a positive notice letter and a blue card. The Blue Card system applies to Queensland only.
  • "Child" or "Children" means an individual or group of individuals under the age of 18;
  • "Criminal or Court Record" means any record of any Other Offence;
  • "Other Offence" means a conviction, finding of guilt, on-the-spot fine for, or court order relating to:
    • (a) an apprehended violence or protection order made against the Person; or
    • (b) one or more traffic offences involving speeding more than 30 kilometres over the speed limit, injury to a person or damage to property; or
    • (c) a crime or offence involving the consumption, dealing in, possession or handling of alcohol, a prohibited drug, narcotic or other prohibited substance;
    • (d) a crime or offence involving violence against or the injury, but excluding the death of a person; or
    • (e) a minor crime or offence involving dishonesty, other than those crimes or offences referred to in paragraph (c).
  • "Person" means each of your officers, employees, contractors and volunteers;
  • "Police Check" means a formal inquiry made to the relevant police authority in a State or Territory and designed to obtain details of an individual's criminal conviction or a finding of guilt in each State and Territory of Australia and in all non-Australian jurisdictions known to you where the Person has resided;
  • "Serious Record" means a conviction or any finding of guilt for a Serious Offence;
  • "Serious Offence" means:
    • (a) a crime or offence involving the death of a person;
    • (b) a sex-related offence or a crime, including offences of sexual assault against an adult or minor, child pornography, or an indecent act involving a minor; or
    • (c) a crime or offence involving dishonesty that is not minor, fraud, money laundering, insider dealing or any other financial offence or crime, including those under legislation relating to companies, banking, insurance or other financial services.
  • "Vulnerable Person" means:
    • (a) a Child or Children; or
    • (b) an individual aged 18 years and above who is or may be unable to take care of themselves, or is unable to protect themselves against harm or exploitation by reason of age, illness, trauma or disability, or any other reason.

Last updated: