New statutory working with children screening arrangements just got a little clearer and closer.
Prelude to a new regime
Two related pieces of legislation have recently progressed through the SA Parliament. In July 2017, the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 (SA) was agreed. During November 2017, the Children’s Protection Law Reform (Transitional Arrangements) Bill was passed by the House of Assembly.
Although a firm date is still to be set, this legislative activity is a prelude to the commencement of the new screening arrangements. In particular, the Transitional Arrangements legislation clarifies what to expect as the new regime is implemented.
- Existing DCSI working with children checks will continue to be valid for the remainder of the 3 year period for which they have been issued. Once those clearances have expired, the holder will need to apply for a working with children screening under the new scheme.
- Anyone who has a criminal history screening only but is volunteering or working with children should apply for a DSCI screening as soon as possible – before the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (SA) commences. This Act sets a higher compliance threshold and an organisation cannot allow someone without a valid clearance to commence (or continue) working. A criminal history screening will not be valid once the new scheme commences (unless the activity is specifically exempted).
- Accredited teachers will need to apply for a working with children check at the time of registration or renewal of registration. Teachers have been exempt under the current rules, so this is a new requirement. School of Education students should ensure their DCSI clearances are valid to cover the transition period and entry into the profession.
Screening status is now monitored
In addition to the legislative changes, the SA Department of Community and Social Inclusion (DCSI) now monitors relevant databases for new information that may change the clearance status of an individual. This includes information about:
- Relevant criminal charges and court outcomes from SA Police (SAPOL),
- Child protection notifications from the Department for Child Protection (DCP) and
- Information on care concerns and incidents from DCP and the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion.
This now applies to anyone – employees and volunteers – with a child-related, disability, aged or vulnerable persons clearance issued by DCSI. The object is to ensure the ongoing integrity of existing and future clearances. In the event of status change, DCSI will notify the individual and the organisation which requested the clearance.