Laws passed to strengthen Working with Children Checks

  • New laws to make it harder for people to obtain a Working with Children Check pass through WA Parliament
  • Criminal offences that trigger an automatic Negative Notice have been expanded
  • High priority reforms part of a staged approach to address key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
  • Laws to better protect children from potential predators have passed through the Parliament of Western Australia.

    The laws will strengthen Working with Children Checks, making it harder for people with certain offences to obtain clearance.

    The Working with Children Check is a screening process for people undertaking paid or unpaid child-related work and is a key strategy to increase child safety in WA.

    Under the proposed changes to the Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004, criminal offences that trigger an automatic Negative Notice will be expanded. It is an offence to carry out child-related work whilst holding a Negative Notice.

    Convictions for all sexual offences against children, and violent offences against children that involve intent to kill or cause life-threatening harm, will result in an automatic Negative Notice, if committed when an adult. This will also apply if charges are pending.

    Offences such as persistent family violence, and suffocation and strangulation will also result in a Negative Notice unless there are exceptional circumstances.

    These reforms reinforce the McGowan Government’s commitment to implement recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Just four years into a 10-year implementation plan, almost 50 per cent of the Royal Commission recommendations have been implemented, and these reforms will further deliver on that commitment.

    Laws requiring Ministers of Religion to report information about child sexual abuse – including information gained in confession – recently came into effect.

    Applications for Working with Children Checks are growing every year. In the 2021-22 financial year, the Department of Communities received more than 146,000 Working with Children Check applications.

    For employees, volunteers, or organisations who breach their obligations, fines of up to $60,000 and five years jail can apply.

    Information about the Working with Children Check can be found at https://www.workingwithchildren.wa.gov.au/

    As stated by Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk:

    “Working with Children Checks are a vital screening tool to protect young people from potential predators, and that’s why it’s so important we strengthen and modernise these laws.

    “We’re making it tougher for people to obtain Working with Children Checks – which will help children enjoying sport and other community activities to stay safe.

    “Along with our laws that require Ministers of Religion to report information of child sexual abuse, these important reforms are delivering on our commitment to implement key recommendations of the Royal Commission – and honouring the victim-survivors who bravely spoke out.”

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