On this page
- Background checks
- Working with Children Checks
- Police checks
- National Disability Insurance Scheme Worker Screening Checks
- Privacy laws
- Screening guides
When your not-for-profit organisation recruits employees or volunteers, you need to conduct appropriate screening procedures to manage any risks they may pose to your organisation.
It’s important that your organisation screens and inducts employees and volunteers in a thorough and systematic way. Certain background checks are required by law (under legislation or contract) and others are discretionary.
What checks you conduct will depend on the nature of the work the employee or volunteer will be doing. If someone has access to money, equipment or data, it may be appropriate to conduct a police check. If they will be working with children (this has a special meaning), it's a legal requirement to conduct a Working With Children Check. And specific requirements apply to workers providing National Disability Insurance Scheme services and supports.
Screening applicants appropriately when your organisation is recruiting is a good way to try to keep your organisation safe and to head off potential problems before they arise.
All organisations have a duty of care (a legal responsibility) to ensure a safe environment for employees, volunteers and clients, and being appropriately informed will help.
Working with Children Checks
You can find more information on Working with Children Checks in our screening guides.
While police checks are generally not necessary, there are certain industries where they are mandatory. For example, aged care facilities that are funded by the Australian Government are required to screen employees and volunteers who have (or are likely to have) direct contact with care recipients.
You should check your funding and insurance contracts to see whether any background checks are required.
Those who recruit volunteers for services have a duty of care to ensure that they take reasonable steps to avoid harm to the organisation and its existing employees, volunteers and clients. Even if the law, or any funding agreement, doesn't require a police records check, your organisation may decide that a criminal record check is necessary.
If your organisation requires that applicants undergo police checks during the recruitment process, you must not refuse an applicant because they have a prior conviction for an offence that has no relevance to the position.
There are legal protections against discrimination on the basis of criminal record, and you should only refuse an applicant on the basis of a criminal past when you believe that the prior offence prevents the applicant from performing the 'inherent requirements' of the position.
You can find more information on Police Checks in our screening guides.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme Worker Screening Check Program
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Worker Screening Check is a national clearance system for workers providing NDIS services and supports.
Under the national scheme:
- a NDIS worker screen database of registered workers has been established
- organisations are able to access the database to check the clearance status of workers
- NDIS providers are responsible for identifying roles in their organisation that require a screening check and are required to make sure all workers in these roles receive an appropriate check, and
- workers who receive a national screening check are eligible to work in any Australian state or territory
You can find more information on NDIS Worker Screening Checks in our screening guides.
During the recruitment process your organisation will gain access to personal information about candidates, so privacy laws may apply to govern the ways your organisation manages that information.
Even if privacy laws don't apply to your organisation, the ways your organisation uses, stores and discloses that information might impact on your reputation, so it's worth considering how best to approach information about individuals.
We have produced a comprehensive guide on screening checks for each state and territory.
Each guide includes information on:
- Working with Children Checks
- Police Checks (sometimes called National Police Checks or Criminal Record Checks)
- interstate and overseas screening
- other types of screening checks, and
- child safety law reforms relevant to screening
The content on this webpage was last updated in March 2022 and is not legal advice. See full disclaimer and copyright notice.