The Working with Children Act 2005 has been designed to help protect children from physical and sexual harm, and as a result of the act the school is required to meet a number of different obligations.
Breaches of these obligations carry substantial penalties, and further information can be found at http://www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au/
The School’s Obligations
The obligations for the school set out in the Act are:
- Reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that the school does not engage or continue to engage a person in child-related work who does not hold a current WWC Check card.
- Reasonable steps are to be taken in the course of business to ensure that any person whose services used in child-related work holds a current WWC Check Card.
- Persons must not be given, directly or indirectly, any information acquired from, or in the carrying out of, a WWC Check, including information obtained from the worker or from the department.
- A person must not be engaged or continue to be engaged in child related work for profit or gain if that person holds a Volunteer WWC Check card.
Failure to meet these obligations can result in penalties for the school.
Under section 9 of the Working with Children Act 2005 (the Act), child-related work is defined as work that usually involves, or is likely to usually involve, regular direct contact with a child that is connected with a service, body, place or activity specified in the Act, in circumstances where that contact is not directly supervised by another person.
In line with this section of the Act the school requires that the Principal, teachers, relief teachers and teaching assistants, class volunteers and Committee office holders to hold a valid WWC Check Card.
Teachers currently registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) are exempt from the WWC Check. However, if a teacher’s VIT registration is suspended or cancelled, they are no longer exempt and within 7 days of the registration being suspended or cancelled they must notify the school of the change in writing.
Required holders who do not currently hold a Check Card will need to apply for a WWC check before commencing with the school. Applications can be made at an Australia Post Office, and the school will need to receive a copy of the application and receipt as proof that the application is underway.
Existing WWC Check Card holders must advise the department within 21 days if their employer or the organisation that engages them in child-related work changes. Where the school has not already been nominated as an organisation of interest holders must update their details to include the school as such an organisation, and this can be done online.
The school will reimburse the cost of applications and renewals.
For WWC Check Card holders the school must keep a copy of the stamped application confirmation form and Australia Post receipt prior to being issued a WWC confirmation letter.
For VIT card holders a copy of the card must be held by the school.
All such information needs to be reviewed in Terms 1 and 3 to ensure that all cards are still valid and renewals are being undertaken by WWC Check Card or VIT holders.
Notifications and Suspensions
As a result of a notification under the Act, the actions of individuals, or a failure to renew WWC checks or VIT cards the Committee can opt to suspend individuals from their roles or bar them from the school.