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The Essential Guide to Working with Vulnerable People Checks

Date Published: December 17, 2020 | Last Updated: January 25, 2024 | By Khai Ngo

The “Working with Vulnerable People Check” (WWVP) is a type of background verification check for individuals who work or volunteer with children and vulnerable people in Australia. 

The purpose of the check establishes a risk assessment system for individuals working with vulnerable people to reduce the likelihood of various types of abuse towards these individuals such as physical, sexual or even financial abuse.

While Accurate Australia does not provide these checks, it’s essential and enforceable by law that if your organisation delivers services for vulnerable people, you must have these checks in place when hiring for employees or volunteers. 

Beyond this, WWVP checks are one piece of the overall employment screening process and should be used in tandem with other forms of employment checks. 

So we’ve put together this article to guide you on all there is to know about working with vulnerable people. 

Who Is Considered a Vulnerable Person?

In the context of working with vulnerable people, a vulnerable person is either: 

  • a child/children; or
  • an individual above the age of 18 years, who is unable to take care of themselves, or is unable to safeguard themselves against abuse or exploitation due to their age, illness, trauma, disability or any other reason. 

When Is Working With Vulnerable People Registration Required by Law?

Legislation governing the protection of vulnerable people varies according to the particular state or territory in Australia. So, there is currently no general national approach.

In The Australian Capital Territory  

According to The Working With Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Act 2011 (WWVP Act), an employee or volunteer aged 16 years or older who engages in regulated activity with vulnerable people, is required to have a background check and be registered.

Engaging in a regulated activity means that they have contact with a vulnerable person in any capacity, including as a paid employee or an unpaid volunteer. 

Examples of regulated activity include, among other things: 

  • childcare services, 
  • child education services; 
  • services for homeless people; 
  • disability services;
  • coaching; and 
  • various other community services. 

Registration must be completed through the authorised government screen unit, Access Canberra

Prior to being registered, a background check and risk assessment are conducted in which the applicant must provide information on their: 

  • criminal history; 
  • all non-conviction information; and 
  • other relevant information. 

Currently, there are three types of registration issued by Access Canberra: 

General RegistrationConditional RegistrationRole-Based Registration
Individuals are allowed to move between all regulated activities for up to three years before needing to reapply.There are specific conditions imposed on the individual’s registration, such as not being able to transport vulnerable people, for example. Individuals are restricted to engaging in specified regulated activities. 

In Tasmania

According to the Registration to Work With Vulnerable People Act 2013, an employee or volunteer aged 16 years or older who engages in regulated activity with vulnerable people, is required to have a background check and be registered.

Currently, the regulations only specify related activities involving children. 

Similar to the Australian Capital Territory, a risk check will take place prior to registration to determine the risk of harm.

Applicants who receive a positive assessment will receive either a general, conditional or role-based registration. Applicants considered to pose a risk of harm to children will receive a negative evaluation and will not be eligible to be registered.

You can apply for registration on the Consumer, Building and Occupational Services website.

Where To Obtain a Work With Vulnerable People Check in Other States and Territories

For the remaining states and territories in Australia, the equivalent assessment to the working with vulnerable people check is known as the working with children check. 

Similar to the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania applicants wishing to apply for a working with children check must do so through the authorised government screening unit. 

The following table summarises the government screening units in the other states and territories: 

State or TerritoryName of the CheckWho It’s Applicable ToRelevant LegislationGovernment Screening Unit
New South Wales Working with Children CheckAll employees and volunteers over 18 years who work in child-related rolesThe Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian
QueenslandBlue Card CheckAll employees and volunteers over 18 years who work in child-related rolesThe Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening Act) 2000Blue Card Services
VictoriaWorking with Children CheckAll employees and volunteers over 18 years who work in child-related rolesThe Working with Children Act 2005Department of Justice and Regulation, Working with Children Check Unit
South AustraliaDSI ScreeningEmployees or volunteers in positions that involve regular contact with children. The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016DSI Screening Unit
Western AustraliaWorking with Children CheckVolunteers over 18 years who work in child-related roles. Employees both under and over 18 years require a check.The Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 WWC Screening Unit
Northern TerritoryWorking with Children Clearance/ Ochre CardAll employees and volunteers over 15 years who work in child-related rolesThe Care and Protection of Children Act 2007Screening Assessment for Employment

Key Takeaways

To work with vulnerable people in Australia, you’ll need to meet specific mandatory minimum checking standards. To meet these standards, a candidate will need to undergo a working with vulnerable people check.

The premise of the background check is to establish the past behaviour of an individual to determine their possible future behaviour. For example, patterns of abusive or inappropriate behaviour are often evident through the assessment. 

Generally, working with vulnerable people checks is an ongoing assessment of an individual’s eligibility to work or volunteer with vulnerable people. 

Each state and territory legislate their own registration systems. 

While we don’t specialise in these kinds of checks, you should take into account all screening services when it comes to recruiting people for your business.

Accurate Background specialises in helping businesses streamline its pre-employment screening service. We provide one of the most comprehensive screening services in Australia to help you make the best decision for your next hire. To find out how we can help you with your next hiring process, get in touch with us today.

Disclaimer: Please note that every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this guide is accurate. You should note, however, that the information is intended as a guide only, providing an overview of general information available to businesses. This guide is not intended to be an exhaustive source of information and should not be seen to constitute legal or recruiting advice. You should, where necessary, seek a second professional opinion for any legal or recruiting issues raised in your business affairs.