Summary

Working with Children Checks have been introduced in Tasmania and are set to commence from 1 April 2015 for coaches and employees (or volunteers) of sports organisations.

Any person engaged in child-related work where the usual duties involve (or are likely to involve) contact with a child under the age of 18 will be required to hold a valid Working with Children Check.

In this eBulletin, we outline the roll-out of Working with Children Checks and look at how they will impact sports organisations.

As penalties will apply for organisations engaging employees or volunteers without the proper accreditation, changes to sports' practices and procedures should be made to recognise Working with Children Check requirements.

Working with Children Checks

The Registration to Work with Vulnerable People Act 2013 brings Tasmania into line with other jurisdictions across Australia that have introduced Working with Children Checks.

The Department of Justice describes Working with Children Checks as "an evaluation of an individual's ability for child-related work", with the application involving a risk assessment of whether a person poses a risk to the safety of children.

Requirement to apply

Working with Children Checks in the sports industry will be required from 1 April 2015 for anyone engaged in child-related work where the usual duties involve, or are likely to involve contact, with a child under the age of 18.

"Contact" is broadly defined to include physical contact, verbal or written communication, dealing with records relating to the child or making a decision that affects the child.

The word "engaged" is also given a broad meaning that captures employees, contractors, volunteers, agents and supervisors. Under the legislation, sports organisations will fall under the categories of "clubs and associations" and "coaching services".

The Department of Justice suggests that Member Protection Officers, coaches and team managers of u/18 teams and officials at children's sport meets will be required to hold Working with Children Checks.

Exemptions

A number of people are specifically exempted from registering for a Working with Children Check, including children under the age of 16, people who have only incidental contact with children in their role, close relatives of a child, police officers and registered health practitioners.

The Department of Justice has also listed examples of people they do not expect to require a Working with Children Check. These include:

  • administrative staff whose usual duties do not involve contact with children;
  • additional parent help at sports meets, where the parents are not designated officials; or
  • officials where the work does not ordinarily involve extended contact with children without other adults present.

Registration

The application process is initially completed online through the Department of Justice website. An applicant will need to supply the full address of every place they have lived over the last five years to complete the application.

The application fee is currently $17.76 for a volunteer registration and $103.60 for an employee registration. The Working with Children Checks will remain valid for three years.

Penalties

Sports organisations should be mindful that the legislation introduces penalties for organisations which engage employees or volunteers who do not possess Working with Children Checks but are legally required to hold them.

Fines of up to $7,000 can be imposed on organisations that engage a person without a valid Working with Children Check. Individuals who know or recklessly disregard whether they are required to hold a Working with Children Check are eligible for fines up to $28,000 or imprisonment up to two years.

What does this mean for sports organisations?

It is important to review your current role descriptions and practises in relation to the protection of children within your organisation.

Tasmanian sports organisations should ensure that they are aware of who is required to hold a valid Working with Children Check to ensure they comply with the legislation and minimise possible liability.

To check the status of a person's Working with Children Check, a sports organisation should visit: https://wwcforms.justice.tas.gov.au/RegistrationSearch.aspx

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AuthorsSimon Merritt, LawyerAmelia Lynch, Senior Associate

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