Every year, tens of thousands of people look for work in aged care-related fields in Australia. Below we have outlined the basic background check requirement to obtain a job in aged care.
Police check requirements for aged care workers in Australia were implemented in 2007 and further strengthened in 2009 This is part of the Australian Government’s ongoing commitment to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of vulnerable aged care recipients.
Approved aged care providers are responsible for having appropriate processes in place in relation to health workers and contractors. Below we have outlined some major requirements including important information about the police check for aged care workers in Australia.
Who is required to undertake a character check in aged care?
Police Character Checks must be undertaken for all aged care workers that are:
- Volunteer e.g. unpaid workers with access to care recipients who are over the age of 16 (excluding where they are a full-time student, then over the age of 18).
- All paid staff including contractors that are over the age of 16 and likely to have either supervised or unsupervised access to care recipients;
How often does an aged care police check need to be renewed in Australia?
The straight forward answer is every three years.
Aged care workers in Australia should note that police checks are required to be renewed on a three-yearly basis and the record of this must be kept by the approved aged care organisation.
Approved aged care providers should also put in place “reasonable measures” and processes to ensure that paid workers or volunteers notify them if they are convicted of a precluding offence within that three-year period.
Where can aged care providers obtain a police clearance from?
Aged care providers and a large number of Australian businesses are turning to Australian National Character Check to obtain national police checks in a fast and efficient manner. The process generally takes around 12 minutes to complete if an applicant has all of their ID’s on hand. Applicants can complete the application using a PC, mobile phone or tablet in the comfort of their own home.
Where is a national police certificate valid?
The national police clearance will cover disclosable court outcomes in accordance with the spent convictions scheme where the applicant of the character check has been convicted within states and territories of Australia.
So what are the recordkeeping requirements for approved aged care providers?
Approved businesses that provide aged care work must keep the below police clearance records of their workers:
- National police character certificate that is not more than 3 years old for all employees, volunteers or contractors
- Proof in the form of evidence of writing that a process is underway (application submitted) for police clearance for new staff and volunteers; and
- A statutory declaration that is completed for each relevant individual as may be required above.
Approved aged care centres must note that all records they keep must be in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Commonwealth).
What offences will preclude someone who seeks aged care work in Australia?
Legislation in the Aged Care Act 1997 underpins that persons are unable to engage in aged care-related jobs if they have any of the following displayed on the character check certificate:
- A conviction for sexual assault; or murder
- A conviction of (and sentenced to imprisonment for) any form of assault.
Any person with the offenses shown above should not be employed or accepted as an unsupervised volunteer within the premises of aged care providers in Australia. The onus to establish this duty lies largely on the approved aged care provider.
Legislation underpins that if a staff member that is currently employed or volunteer is convicted of an offense as shown above in the precluding offices, it is the responsibility of the approved aged care facility to ensure the person does not continue in the role in aged care related works.
Is there a specific national police check that must be used for aged care workers?
Yes. When completing the national police check from a provider like Australian National Character Check or at a local police station, the check should be undertaken by referencing the individual’s exposure or “contact with vulnerable persons”. The level of contact selected on the application form should ideally be “Unsupervised Contact” as in most circumstances there would be occasions when the worker may be left unsupervised with the elderly.
A national police clearance that is for the purpose of having contact with vulnerable persons in the community will generally disclose all serious offences, sexual offences and offences against the person for employment/engagement in positions/occupations involving the care, instruction or supervision of vulnerable persons.
When a national police check is undertaken specifically for the purpose of working with vulnerable persons (like the elderly in aged care), a partial exclusion to the Spent Conviction Scheme is applied to the national police check. What this means is any offences that fall into the category will be disclosed on the Character Certificate, regardless of when the offence was committed (h
Below are some useful resources and references
- Aged Care Act 1997 (Commonwealth)
- Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, Office of Aged Care Quality and Compliance – Police Certificate Guidelines – March 2017
- Spent Conviction Scheme – http://www.privacy.gov.au/law/other/criminal
- Accountability Principles 2014 (Commonwealth)