Federal Government Employment Screening Solutions

Accurate Australia helps your agency navigate the complexities of Federal Government legislative frameworks and customise the correct screening packages for the specific roles being filled, streamlining your recruitment process and enabling you to hire with confidence.

Why Should You Screen Potential Government Employees?

As a Commonwealth Government agency or department looking to recruit new staff, you are guided by the Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF), a legislative framework developed to protect Australian Government people, information and assets both domestically and internationally. Under this framework, the Personnel Security policies outline “how to screen and vet personnel and contractors to assess their eligibility and suitability”. This vetting is carried out “to ensure personnel are eligible and suitable to access classified government resources”. There are two components to this process. The first is pre-employment screening, which is carried out either internally by the entity doing the hiring, or externally by specialised pre-employment screening agencies like Accurate Australia. This stage of the process includes mandatory checks that all Federal Government entities must complete, as well as recommended checks and in some cases entity specific checks that go beyond the remit of the first two screening categories. For some roles in certain entities, it may also be required that preferred candidates go through a vetting process to receive a security clearance. This is the second component of the process, which is carried out by the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA), under the Department of Defence.

Pre-Employment Screening Requirements

PSPF Policy 12 – Eligibility and Suitability of Personnel, pre-employment screening for Federal Government entities is comprised of:

  • mandatory and recommended pre-employment checks applied to provide a level of assurance about the individual’s suitability to access Australian Government resources
  • entity-specific checks to mitigate security threats applicable to the entity that are not addressed by minimum pre-employment screening.

Mandatory Pre-Employment Screening

Mandatory checks are required for any Federal Government hiring, which includes recruitment within all Federal Government entities, agencies and Defence Industry Security Program (DISP) member organisations. These checks are:

  • Identity Check: This check is needed to “establish confidence in a person’s identity and provides entities with a level of assurance about the prospective employee”. In plain English, you need to ensure that the person you’re considering hiring is who they say they are. Requirement 1a of PSPF Policy 12 mandates the use of the Document Verification Service for this purpose.
  • Eligibility to Work In Australia: Sometimes referred to as a VEVO (Vise Entitlement Verification) check, the Eligibility to Work in Australia check is required to make sure that a candidate is either an Australian Citizen, or if not, has a valid work visa.

Recommended Pre-Employment Screening

In addition to the mandatory checks required for all Federal Government hiring, the Attorney-General’s Department recommends that all Federal Government entities carry out pre-employment checks guided by Australian Standard Workforce Screening 4811:2022, for the purpose of meeting PSPF requirement 1c:

“Obtaining assurance of a person’s suitability to access Australian Government resources, including their agreement to comply with the government’s policies, standards, protocols and guidelines that safeguard resources from harm.”

These checks include:

Entity-Specific Pre-Employment Screening

Some entities may have additional personnel security risks, over and above the risks generally carried by a Federal Government body. Due to these specific risks, there may be a need to carry out additional screening checks to ensure the suitability of a candidate for a role.

Some entities may have additional personnel security risks, over and above the risks generally carried by a Federal Government body. Due to these specific risks, there may be a need to carry out additional screening checks to ensure the suitability of a candidate for a role.

When considering any of these checks, the Attorney-General’s Department recommends seeking advice from bodies such as the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) or the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) regarding the suitability and legality of any proposed entity-specific testing. An example of some of the considerations at play when deciding on these checks, is the position on ‘Conditions of Engagement’ outlined in the general employment principles of the APSC: “Conditions imposed as a condition of engagement should be relevant to the duties an employee will be expected to perform or the operating environment of the agency. Imposing a condition of engagement that is not related to the requirements of a job may be inconsistent with the APS Values and Employment Principles and—in some cases—anti-discrimination laws.”

Security Clearance Requirements

Pre-employment screening as outlined above, and security clearance vetting which we’ll explain now, are two completely separate processes and are carried out by different agencies.

While all Federal Government entities are mandated to carry out at least the minimum requirements of identity and right to work checks (and in most cases, a number of additional recommended checks), security clearances are only required by individuals that meet a particular set of criteria. According to the PSPF:

Personnel in certain positions may require a security clearance to access particular Australian Government resources (people, information and assets) relevant to their position. In accordance with an entity’s physical and information security profile.

If the position as identified as requiring a security clearance the following criteria must then be met:

  • The individual must be eligible for an Australian Government security clearance. This means they must be an Australian citizen and have a checkable background.
  • The clearance must be sponsored by an Australian Government entity or otherwise by authorised by the Australian Government.
  • The individual must give informed consent for the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information for the purposes of assessing their eligibility for the clearance, and if eligible, for gaining the security clearance.

There are a number of security clearance levels which you can read the details on in PSPF Policy 12. For the purposes of this article we’ll list below the required checks for the first security clearance level, called ‘Baseline Vetting’:

  • Identity check
  • Confirmation of Australian Citizenship
  • Background assessment (previous 5 years)
  • Acknowledgement of relevant legislation
  • Statutory declaration
  • Referee checks
  • Digital footprint check
  • National police check
  • Financial history assessment

Verifynow’s Recommended Screening Checks For Federal Government Entities

A government department should identify the essential requirements of the position, identify any associated risks, and determine the screening process necessary to manage those risks.

However, certain government departments are legislated to follow particular policies and procedures for different areas of practice; for example:

  • Security clearances are necessary where the employee is required to access protected information
  • Working with children checks are necessary where the employee is required to work or volunteer in child-related contexts
  • Working with vulnerable people checks are necessary where the employee is required to work or volunteer with people in vulnerable communities.

To ensure that your recruitment process aligns with Australian standards and the Protective Security Policy Framework, we work with you to create a package of screening checks that meet your legislative requirements and best practice recommendations. The following probity checks are an example of some of the popular checks carried out as part of a Federal Government recruitment process:

Identity Verification

Verifying an individual’s identity is one of the two mandated checks that must be carried out by any Federal Government entity, agency or Defence Industry Security Program (DISP) member organisation during the recruitment process.

National Police Check

Police checks are generally required when employing individuals to work for Federal Government entities. While they’re not mandatory for all positions they are one of the most commonly implemented checks out of the recommended list.

Employment History Verification

The Attorney-General’s Department recommends checking the employment history of all new personnel for a period of at least 5 years where applicable. This is important to identify any unexplained gaps or anomalies in employment or a history of short periods of employment that may indicate poor reliability.

Referee Checks

Referee checks are highly recommended for any Federal Government Entity, to ensure that the candidates integrity and reliability can be verified. The Attorney-General’s Department recommends conduction professional referee checks covering at least the last 3 months.

Qualification Check

Candidates may need formal qualifications, licensing, registration, or professional memberships depending on the government entity. In these cases, it may be necessary to check the validity of their qualifications.

Security Clearances

It may be necessary for the candidate to have a security clearance to perform the duties of the position. For example, where an employee needs to access classified information that the Australian Federal Government considers protected, an employee may need to undertake a security clearance check with the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA).

Working with Children Check

Australia’s states and territories have all adopted legislation regulating assessments of employees and volunteers who perform work related to children. Applicants who will work with children as their profession must meet specific screening requirements.

Working with Vulnerable People Check

If your government department delivers services for children and vulnerable people, it’s essential and enforceable by law that you have these checks in place when hiring employees or volunteers

Conducting Employment Screening During The Recruitment Process

A variety of probity checks can improve hiring quality and protect government entities against application fraud in addition to mandatory background checks. For instance, having a well-planned employment screening framework in action, complete with probity checks, can deliver benefits by:

  • Decreasing reputational risk and improving hiring quality;
  • Minimising risks associated with certain positions;
  • Reducing the threat of financial loss to your business.

However, you must conduct a risk assessment to determine the appropriate checks. This is where employment screening is best utilised within a framework. This employment screening framework needs to not only work to mitigate risk, but also to take into account human rights and legal requirements regarding privacy and discrimination.

The department needs to have a clear understanding of why it needs employment screening, what it includes, how the information will be gathered, and how it will be backed up securely. It’s also necessary to disclose who will conduct the checks and the next steps in the hiring process.

Safeguard Your Department with VerifyNow

Contact our specialists today.

At Accurate Australia, we believe that the Federal Government sector can improve hiring quality and safeguard against application fraud by introducing various employment screening services.

With accurate and unbiased information available about a candidate’s background and credibility, employment history verifications by Accurate Australia will help you make smarter hiring decisions. Our mission is to support government entities in building a reliable, secure and trusted workforce.

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