Healthcare & Social Assistance Employment Screening Solutions

The healthcare workforce in Australia is expected to grow by 16% from 2021 to 2022, representing 250,000 new jobs. Accurate Australia can help ensure those positions are filled by trusted individuals.

Why Should You Screen Your Potential Healthcare and Social Assistance Employees?

Public Health Sector Employment Screening

Obligations for employers of health professionals, while overseen by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), are ultimately managed by each state or territory under its own legislation.

While the specifics of the required checks and balances differ between the states, there is a universally high level of due diligence required, with many state health agencies requiring medical checks in addition to national police checks, reference checks and other pre-employment screening staples.

A good example of the scope of probity requirements for the sector is the NSW Policy Directive, Recruitment and Selection of Staff to the NSW Health Service which outlines the mandatory standards to be applied during public health recruitment in that state.

One of the key goals of the legislation is to ensure that “all appointees have the appropriate knowledge, skills, qualifications, competence, and professional registration as required”. This is achieved through a number of checks including referee checks. According to the legislation, the purpose of the referee checks is to:

  • Seek specific information about the current knowledge, skills, competence and experience of the applicant as they relate to the selection criteria/position.
  • Confirm any significant claims made by the applicant in relation to the position.
  • Seek information about recent past performance, professional conduct and attendance record of the applicant.
  • Explore any issues or concerns related to the skills, competence and experience identified during the application or assessment/interview process.

In addition to these probity checks, AHPRA requires that all employers of health professionals in Australia carry out due diligence regarding the current status of the candidates’ accreditation. In their article Obligations For Employers Of Health Practitioners, AHPRA states “If you employ registered health practitioners, you have an important obligation to ensure that they hold current registration and that you understand your mandatory notification requirements under the National Law.” These registrations can be checked on the AHPRA website using the Online Register of Practitioners.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Worker Screening

With the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), a national best practice framework called NDIS Practice Standards was developed to ensure a consistent application of the scheme throughout all states and territories that meets an exacting standard of quality and safety.

One of the components of the Standards is a set of requirements relating to worker screening that are set out in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Practice Standards—Worker Screening) Rules 2018. These rules establish the implementation of a new national approach to worker screening called the NDIS Worker Screening Check.

Each state and territory have their own agency which runs a Worker Screening Unit for NDIS workers in that state. For information regarding the logistics of managing NDIS Worker Screening Checks in each state you can visit the websites for the state and territory agencies below:

Aged Care Services Screening

Even with the legislative frameworks discussed in the sections above, the reality is that accidental or intentional omissions and falsehoods in job applications can still occur. In fact, the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, in their report Strengthening Employment Screening Practices In The NSW Public Sector, found that:

“Employment application fraud is both costly and common. Typically, between 20% and 30% of job applications contain some form of false information, ranging from minor omissions to serious falsehoods.”

While this is a damning statistic and a significant point of concern for recruitment professionals throughout the public service, and throughout the jobs marketplace at large, it sounds a special warning bell for those looking to hire into the aged care sector, due to the vulnerability of end users.

It’s crucial that aged care workers undergo a thorough employment screening process to ensure providers can meet Standard 7 of the Aged Care Quality And Safety Commission’s Quality Standards. This high level of probity checking is required to ensure that organisations meet the consumer outcome of “quality care and services” from staff who are “knowledgeable, capable and caring”. As well as the Organisation Statement of having a “workforce that is sufficient, and is skilled and qualified to provide safe, respectful and quality care and services.

The Australian Law Reform Commission found in it’s 2016 review of employment screening in aged care that employment screening processes could “come with a significant operational cost”, they also found that (in the case of Working With Children checks): “the view held by the majority of government and non-government stakeholders … that they deliver unquestionable benefits to the safeguarding of children.”

Likewise, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that: “The need for comprehensive pre-employment screening practices was supported and underscored by many case examples where such practices were not followed and, as a result, unsuitable people gained employment in child-related work and went on to sexually abuse the children in their care.”

Although this quote was discussing the impacts on children, the similar vulnerability experienced by many elderly people in care institutions throughout the country sends a clear message about the need to ensure thorough probity checks are carried out in the aged care sector.

According to the employment screening objectives laid out in Australia’s legislative framework (Australian Standard AS 4811-2022 Employment Screening), employment screening ensures integrity, identity, credentials, and trustworthiness.

Accurate Background’s Recommended Essential Screening Checks for the Healthcare and Aged Care Industry

While most of these screening clearances are recommended when it comes to the healthcare and social assistance sector, Australian law mandates a selection of them, including:

Working with Children Check

All states and territories in Australia have introduced legislation regulating assessments for employees or volunteers who perform jobs in child-related roles. Applicants who want to work with children as their profession must meet specific screening requirements.

Working with Vulnerable People Check

Suppose your healthcare, aged care or social assistance organisation delivers services for children and vulnerable individuals. In that case, it’s essential and enforceable by law that you have these checks in place when hiring employees or volunteers.

National Police Check

Police checks are not only recommended but required when you are employing individuals in the healthcare and social assistance sector. A candidate must also complete the Aged Care Statutory Declaration for aged care work.

NDIS Screening Check

The NDIS Worker Screening Check is a risk assessment to see if you pose any dangers when working with people who have disabilities.

Identity Verification

Identity verification is one of the most fundamental screening checks. In addition to verifying the individual’s identity, we also recommend checking if they are on any watchlists.

Qualification Check

For some positions within the healthcare industry, formal training, licensing, registration, or professional membership may be required. In those instances, a qualification check may be necessary to confirm the validity of a candidate’s qualifications.

Employment History Verification

Establishing a known association is made easier by verifying employment history. You can use these checks to determine whether an earlier role has impacted their suitability for the position you’re hiring for.

Referee Checks

Referee checks are highly recommended for any Helathcare or Social Assistance employees, 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.

Conducting Employment Screening During The Recruitment Process

We believe that all industries and businesses can improve hiring quality and safeguard themselves against application fraud by carrying out appropriate probity checks.

Having a well-planned background 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 organisation.

To determine the appropriate checks, you need to conduct a risk assessment in addition to performing the screenings mandated by law.

Employment screening is best approached with a strategic framework. Essentially, it’s a prudent business process. The benefits of a strategic, consistent risk management approach far outweigh the costs.

Organisations should be clear about why they need employment screening, what and when it is required, and how personal information will be collected and securely stored. It’s important to disclose who will conduct the background checks and the next steps in the hiring process based on the screening results.

Safeguard Your Organisation with Accurate Background

Contact our specialists today.

At Accurate Australia, we believe that the healthcare and social assistance sector can improve hiring quality and safeguard itself against application fraud by introducing employment screening services.

With accurate and unbiased information about a candidate’s background and credibility, employment history verifications by Accurate Australia help you make smarter hiring decisions. Our mission is to support education and training organisations like you in building a trusted workforce.

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