As a business owner, it is essential to consider whether any of your workers are engaging in work that requires them to have a working with children check clearance.
Under section 9 of the Child Protection (Working With Children) Act, you must not employ a worker in “child-related work” if the worker does not have a working with children check clearance that authorises that work. The maximum penalty for breaching this provision is quite hefty: $11,000 for corporations and $5,500 for others.
The definition of “child-related work” is very broad. The definition covers workers engaged in certain types of work where physical contact or face-to-face contact with a child or children is a usual part of that work. Some of the types of work defined as child-related are to be expected (for example, work in schools and work in child protection services).
However, you may be surprised to learn that the definition of child-related work also includes:
- Work as a health practitioner providing child health services, including dental, mental health, pharmaceutical, health education, occupational therapy, optometry, podiatry, psychology, optical dispensing, dietician, and speech therapy services, unless the work is a health practitioner in private practice and the provision of services by the practitioner in the course of that practice does not ordinarily involve treatment of children without one or more other adults present.
- Work for a club, association, movement, society or other body of a cultural, recreational, sporting or community service nature that involves providing programs or services primarily for children (for example, voluntary work as a coach or as a team manager for a sport or activity for children, though there is an exception if that volunteer has a child in that team who is a close relative, such as their son or daughter).
- Work providing private coaching or tuition to children.
- Work at overnight camps for children (so if you run a bush retreat, recreation centre or adventure camp, you and your workers may need a clearance).
- Work in providing home-stays of 3 weeks or more for children (so this could potentially cover cultural exchange programs where students are hosted by families).
- Work in providing transport services especially for children (so if you run a school bus service or taxi service for children with a disability, this could apply to you).
If any of your workers are completing this kind of work without a clearance, we recommend that you speak to our expert Business Law team on 1800 650 656 who will be able to assist you. Stay tuned for Working With Children Checks – Part 2 next week.
Aaron Strickland | Solicitor