Skyline Education Foundation Australia is committed to ensuring the safety, wellbeing, and participation of all children and young people under our care.
If you are a non-English speaker who needs help to understand this Policy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Policy and Procedures are publicly available at www.skylinefoundation.org.au/childsafety. Additionally, prior to commencing at Skyline, a copy of this Policy and Procedures is provided to all Skyline staff, Board and Committee members, volunteers, contractors, service providers engaged in child-related work (except for teachers registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT).
Having a child safe environment includes ensuring that all children feel and are safe at Skyline.
Skyline relies on Working with Children (WWC) Checks to prevent people from working or volunteering with children at Skyline, if an assessment (including a re-assessment) of their records indicates they may pose an unjustifiable risk to children. Skyline ensures that all relevant staff and volunteers have current WWC Checks in accordance with the Victorian Child Safe Standards.1
A rigorous assessment is undertaken before determining if a person can perform child-related work in Victoria and be provided with a WWC Check. It is against the law for the following people to apply for a WWC Check:
- a registrable offender under the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 (Vic); and
- a person who is subject to a supervision order, a detention order or an emergency detention order.
Working With Children Check Victoria, which is part of the Victorian Government’s Department of Justice and Community Safety, undertakes the assessment. Under current processes, Working With Children Check Victoria reviews the following for each applicant:
- criminal record in all Australian states and territories across their lifetime, including serious sexual, violent and drug offences they have previously been charged with, regardless of the outcome of those charges;
- professional conduct, which is determined by the:
- Suitability Panel established under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic), which makes findings related to the suitability of registered out of home carers; and
- Commission for Children and Young People through the Reportable Conduct Scheme under the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic).
- compliance (if applicable) with historical and current health practitioner legislation;
- current or historical reporting obligations or orders under the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 or the Serious Offenders Act 2018;
- any new offences or charges that fall within the Worker Screening Act 2020 (Vic) (the Act).
There are only two outcomes for a WWC Check assessment:
- a WWC Clearance, which is valid for five years and permits a person to engage as an employee in paid or voluntary child-related work or to engage in child-related work as a volunteer only; or
- a WWC Exclusion, preventing the applicant from working with children.
For more information, see https://www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au/
The purpose of this Policy and Procedures is to have clear and easily understandable processes and procedures for ensuring that Skyline staff, Board and Committee members, volunteers, contractors, service providers engaged in child-related work where required under the Act or by Skyline have a current WWC Clearance prior to commencing at Skyline and hold a valid WCC Clearance at all times.
Where the Act or Skyline requires a person to have a WWC Check, Skyline does not permit that person to work for or with them pending a WWC Clearance, even where the Act allows people to do child- related work after their application has been lodged and while it is being processed. To keep students at Skyline safe, we require these people to have passed the WWC Check screening process and received a WWC Clearance before commencement.
This Policy and Procedures apply to all Skyline staff, Board and Committee members, volunteers, contractors, and service providers engaged in child-related work (except for teachers registered with the VIT).
Where this Policy refers to persons who require a WWC Check and/or WCC Clearance, this does not include VIT registered teachers.
However, registered teachers who perform any child-related work that is not teaching in a school or early childhood service are required to notify Working With Children Check Victoria within 21 days of commencement at Skyline by completing the Teacher Notification Form. If their VIT registration is suspended or cancelled then the teacher exemption no longer applies, and they must apply for a WCC Check.
For more information, see Working with Children Check Exemptions Guide
This Policy and procedures do not apply to Skyline students who are volunteering with, coaching or tutoring younger Skyline students. Under the Act, people under 18 years of age are still considered to be a child. Students under 18 years of age performing volunteer work organised by or held at an education institution also do not need a WWC Clearance. However, students are required to abide by Skyline’s Child Safety Code of Conduct at all times.
This Policy applies to all Skyline physical and online environments used by students during and outside of hours, including locations used for camps, masterclasses, tours, excursions, mentoring, tutoring and other events.
The following terms in this Policy and Procedure have specific definitions (and are consistent with Victorian law where indicated):
Child: A child or young person who is under the age of 18 years.
Source: Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic)
Child-related work: Work at or for a service, body or place, or that involves a specified activity and that usually involves direct contact with a child.
Educational institutions are specified for the purpose of: Work in relation to child-related work, includes:
a) work engaged in:
- under a contract of employment or a contract for services (whether written or unwritten); or
- as a minister of religion or as part of the duties of a religious vocation; or
- as an officer of a body corporate, member of the committee of management of an unincorporated body or association, or member of a partnership; or
b) practical training undertaken as part of an educational or vocational training course; or
c) work engaged in as a volunteer, including unpaid community work under a community or treatment order.
Work in relation to child-related work does not include unpaid work engaged in for a private or domestic purposes.
Work is not considered child-related work where it involves only occasional direct contact with children that is incidental to the work.
Direct contact: Direct contact in relation to child-related work, includes any contact between a person and a child that involves:
- physical contact; or
- face to face contact; or
- contact by online meeting or event; or
- contact by post or other written communication; or
- contact by telephone or other oral communication; or
- contact by email, SMS, or other electronic communication.
People engaged in child-related work must have a WWC Clearance before commencing any paid or volunteer child-related work for or with Skyline. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Staff (other than VIT registered teachers);
- Board members;
- Committee members;
- Patrons and Ambassadors;
- Service providers;
- Ministers of religion and people performing duties of a religious vocation; and
- Trainee teachers.
Skyline does not permit a person to work for or with them pending a WWC Clearance even where the Act allows people to perform child-related work after their application has been lodged and is being processed. Skyline requires these people to pass the WWC Check and receive a WWC Clearance or to have an equivalent clearance prior to commencement at Skyline.
When engaging staff, volunteers, contractors or service providers to perform child-related work, Skyline must sight, verify and record the person’s WWC Clearance where the person is required to have a clearance under the Act or by Skyline prior to commencement.
Skyline may also require people engaged in ‘child-connected work’ to have a WWC Clearance prior to commencement. Skyline will consider people as engaged in child-connected work if they are undertaking work authorised by Skyline and being performed by an adult where children are present or reasonably expected to be present. On this basis, child-connected work is a broader concept than child-related work as child-connected work does not require direct contact with children, the presence or reasonably expected presence of children is sufficient.
Given the nature of Skyline’s work, it is assumed that some persons working for or with Skyline will be engaged in child-connected work and will require the following to obtain a WWC Clearance prior to commencing at Skyline:
- Board and Committee members;
- Patrons and Ambassadors; and
- Staff members not engaged in child-related work.
Other people who are or might be engaged in child-connected work may be required by Skyline in its absolute discretion to obtain a WWC Clearance prior to commencement if they are or are likely to engage in child-connected work. This may include volunteers, contractors and service providers with exceptions to apply where children will not be or are unlikely to be present, for example, where working off-site or outside business hours such as performing maintenance work, on a weekend or assisting with fund-raising or administrative activities.
All persons required under the Act or by Skyline to have a WWC Clearance prior to commencement with Skyline must at all times whilst working for or with Skyline have a valid WWC Clearance.
As an alternative to a WWC Clearance for any person who is or may be engaged in child-connected work on a very limited basis, Skyline may instead and at its absolute discretion, require prior to commencement:
- the submission of a Statutory Declaration from that person to the effect that they have no offences that would result in them not receiving a WWC Clearance under the Act if an application for a WWC Check was processed; and
- an undertaking to advise Skyline if they are convicted of an offence that would result in a WWC exclusion negative notice.
Before the commencement of any person engaging in child-related work at or with Skyline, Board members and staff members engaged in child-connected work and any other person engaged in child- connected work where required by Skyline to have a WWC Clearance, Skyline will sight the person’s WWC Check Card. Whether a person has a WWC Check Card or not (e.g. if misplaced or receipt is pending), Skyline will verify and record the person’s WWC Clearance using the WWCC Victoria online card status checklist platform (WWCC Victoria Card Check Status).
Any paid ongoing Skyline employees performing child-related work must have an Employee WWCCheck Card, not a Volunteer WWC Check Card.
Where a contractor or service provider with multiple employees is engaged by Skyline, Skyline may require, in its contract with them that the contractor or service provider:
- verify the WWC Clearance or equivalent clearance status of every person engaged by them to provide services to Skyline and provide evidence of this verification to Skyline.
- provide to Skyline a list of every person engaged by them to provide the services and their WWC Check Card or equivalent clearance details.
Skyline will maintain records containing the following information (where applicable) for each person for whom a WW Clearance is required:
- full name
- date of birth
- WWC Check Card Number
- WWC Clearance expiry date
- all correspondence, including any notices sent by or provided to the person from Working With Children Check Victoria.
Skyline may at any time require a person to substantiate that their WWC Clearance is currently valid. Each person that is required to have a WWC Clearance is responsible for ensuring that at all times whilst working for or with Skyline that their Clearance remains valid.
Persons engaging in child-related work who do not have a valid WCC Clearance, knowing that the work is child-related work face penalties of up to two years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to 240 penalty units (currently over $43,000), or both (section 121(1) of the Act).
Each person whilst working for or with Skyline who has passed a WWC Check is required under the Act to advise Skyline in writing and Working With Children Check Victoria within seven days if any of the following circumstances occur:
- a relevant disciplinary or regulatory finding is made against them;
- they are charged with an offence listed in Schedule 2 or 4 of the Act;
- they are convicted or found guilty of an offence listed in Schedule 2 or 4 of the Act or a charge has been finally dealt with;
- they become subject to reporting obligations under the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 (Vic);
- they become subject to a supervision, detention or emergency detention order;
- they are given a National Disability Insurance Scheme exclusion; and
- they are excluded from child-related work interstate.
A fine of up to 60 penalty units (currently over $11,000) applies (section 72 of the Act).
A change in personal details, such as name, address, phone number of organization, must be communicated to Working With Children Check Victoria within 21 days.
Skyline maintains a WWC Register to track when WWC Clearances expire. Skyline will seek to remind all persons on the WWC Register within three months of the expiry date that renewal is required. However, it is at all times the responsibility of the person with the WCC Clearance to ensure its validity.
On expiry, Skyline will check that the WWC Clearance has been renewed. Skyline may also undertake checks at any time of a person’s WWC Clearance or equivalent clearance to confirm it remains valid. The outcome of the regular checks, confirming the validity of each person’s WWC Clearance, will be retained by Skyline.
Any WWC Negative Notice, expired WCC Check Card or other issues will be immediately escalated to the CEO for necessary action as the person will not be able to continue to work for or with Skyline and, if not resolved within 24 hours, the person will be unable to work for or with or participate in any Skyline activities in any Skyline environment until the issue is resolved.
Skyline will remove immediately on being notified, any person engaged in paid or voluntary child- related work for or with Skyline whose WWC Clearance is suspended or revoked or is issued with a WWC Exclusion. Under the Act they are not permitted to perform child-related work from the date of the notice.
If a person receives a WWC Exclusion they must under the Act advise Skyline in writing within seven days of the date of receipt of the Exclusion. If a person receives a WWC Exclusion, they cannot apply for a WCC Check again for five years from the date of the notice, unless their circumstances change. If they apply after this time, legally they must not perform any child-related work until they pass the WCC Check.
Working With Children Check Victoria will inform Skyline if a person who obtained the WWC Clearance for Skyline paid or volunteer child-related work has received a WCC Exclusion or had a WCC Check suspended or revoked. A copy of the WWC Exclusion is sent to all organisations that the person has listed with Working With Children Victoria, though they do not advise of the reasons for the WWC Exclusion.
Skyline will not engage or continue to engage a person in child-related work who has a WWC Exclusion, even if they are exempt, for example, a parent or carer volunteer who even though legally exempt from having to have a WWC Clearance when volunteering in an activity which involves their own child.
Any person who suspects a breach of this Policy and Procedures has occurred, must:
- act to prioritise the best interests of the student;
- promptly take actions to ensure the student(s) are safe;
- as soon as possible report the incident or concerns using the Skyline complaints process;
- maintain the privacy of those involved, following Skyline record keeping, privacy and information sharing guidelines.
Complaints about a breach of this Policy and Procedures must be reported to the Skyline CEO. They can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Skyline staff, Board and Committee members, volunteers, contractors, and service providers undertaking child-related work who breach this Policy and Procedures may be subject to disciplinary procedures in accordance with their employment agreement or relevant industrial instrument, professional code or terms of engagement.
This includes (but is not limited to) the following actions depending on the nature of the relationship and the breach:
- remedial education;
- increased supervision;
- the restriction of duties;
- suspension; or
- in the case of serious breaches, termination of employment, contract, or engagement.
Compliance with this Policy and Procedures will be monitored by the Executive Assistant to CEO, and this may include independent audits and reviews.
Skyline checks that the Working with Children Checks Policy and Procedures is fully implemented and being followed by everyone. This includes monitoring compliance by contractors and service providers undertaking child-related work.
It also includes making sure our leaders champion and model compliance by taking a proactive, outspoken approach on the importance of child safety and wellbeing, that they ‘walk the talk’ in taking child safety matters seriously, respond promptly and thoroughly and help to embed child safety practices throughout Skyline.
Skyline is committed to the continuous improvement of our Child Safety Program. We have established processes for the review and ongoing improvement of our child safe policies, procedures, and practices for overall effectiveness and to ensure compliance with all child safety related laws, regulations, and standards:
- the Executive Assistant to CEO is responsible for reviewing and updating the Working with Children Checks Policy and Procedures and Procedures at least every two years or after any significant child safety incident or significant breaches of policy, which includes seeking feedback from staff, volunteers, students, families, and the Skyline community.
- we use best practice and input from regular stakeholder consultation on child safety to inform the development of our policies and procedures, including with everyone involved at Skyline.
- we record and analyse all complaints, concerns, and safety incidents to identify causes and systemic failures and inform continuous improvement – where any flaws or failings are identified in our policies, procedures and practices improvements are made to prevent the problem from reoccurring.
- we act with transparency and share reports on the findings of relevant reviews with staff, volunteers, families, students, and the Skyline community.
Related policies, procedures and legislation Skyline policy and procedure linkage
The Working with Children Checks Policy and Procedures is to be read and understood in conjunction with our:
- Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy;
- Child Safety Code of Conduct;
- Child Safety Responding and Reporting Policy and Procedures;
- Complaints Policy;
- Record Keeping Policy and Procedures.
The following legislation, standards and regulations apply, and this policy aligns with these mandated requirements:
- Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic) and the Child Safety Standards made pursuant to that Act; and
- Worker Screening Act 2020 (Vic).
References and Resources
Working With Children Check Victoria, see here.