Screening Staff and Volunteers
SCREENING STAFF & VOLUNTEERS
WORKING WITH CHILDREN CHECKS (WWCC)
All staff and volunteers who work with children and young people in the Church should be screened. This includes compliance with criminal history record checks requirements which are often referred to as ‘Working with Children Checks’.
A Criminal History Record Check is required by legislation in seven (7) out of eight (8) States/Territories in Australia for certain categories of people who work with children and young people (in either paid or voluntary roles).
In Australia, records from all State, Territory, and Federal Police/Court jurisdictions are searched when a volunteer/employee undergoes a criminal history record check for working with children. In addition, some States/Territories also include certain Tribunal findings (e.g. from a Teacher or other Member Registration body) or Employment Proceedings (workplace investigations) in their checks.
The Working with Children Check in some states includes a search of arrests and charges as well as Court convictions.
In New Zealand, the Ministry of Justice check covers all offences except for 'spent' convictions (i.e. historic offenses that have expired and are no longer reportable).
OTHER COMPONENTS OF EFFECTIVE SCREENING
In addition to criminal checks, the local Church Child-Safe Policy requires that staff and volunteers who work with children and young people must also:
- Meet 'qualifying' periods before the local Church appoints them to working with children (12 months if new to the congregation, 6 months if transferring from another Adventist church)
- Complete 'referee checks' for all staff or volunteers who are new to the congregation or being appointed for the first time
- Undergo an interview to ascertain the applicant's suitability for working with children/youth
- Have access to the local Church's Code of Conduct and Child-Safe Policy
- Pledge to follow the local Church's Code of Conduct and Child-Safe Policy. This may be done by the staff or volunteer signing a written pledge, or by using the on-line pledge on this site.
According to the worldwide 'Church Manual' (18th Edition, 2010) it is the duty of the local Church's Nominating Committee to make "careful inquiry" into the suitability of people they nominate to the Church for appointment to positions with children and youth. Between appointment cycles, this duty rests with the local Church's Board.
RESOURCES FOR LOCAL CHURCHES TO CONDUCT SCREENING
A Pledge for Children's Workers can be completed on-line by clicking on the 'Online Pledge' link in the 'Safeguarding Churches' pages.
The Pledge will be 'receipted' to the individual, who may print and show the Pledge to local Church leaders to verify completion. The individual will also be added to a Conference (regional) and Union (National) database that can be accessed by certain authorised users who plan and run activities for children or young people. This access is password protected. For example, Conference Youth Directors or Children’s Ministry leaders may access the database when appointing staff for rallies, camps, and Pathfinder events like Camporee.
Tools for conducting Screening are available in the Resources section of this website. Tools include:
- Volunteer Data Form
- Application Form to Provide Referees
- Questions & Tips for conducting Referee Checks
- Brochure on ‘Screening Volunteers’ which outlines requirements such as qualifying periods
LINKS - 'WORKING WITH CHILDREN CHECKS' BY REGION
- ACT - http://www.ors.act.gov.au/community/working_with_vulnerable_people_wwvp Working with Children and Vulnerable People Check. Legislation which commenced in the ACT on 8 November 2012 requires individuals working or volunteering in activities or services for children, to register with the Office of Regulatory Services (ORS) by 7 November 2013. Successful applicants will be issued with a Registration Card.
- NSW - http://kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au/Working-with-children Working with Children Check. From mid-June 2013 a new Working With Children Check commenced in NSW. All staff (employed or volunteer) who work with children are required to apply for a Clerance. Staff do this by completing an online form then taking a printout and photo identification to a Motor Registration Office to submit their application. Once a letter of Clearance is received (usually via a PDF in an e-mail), the staff person must show/provide the Clearance Number to the employer or appointing body (the local Church or a Conference entity, for example). The employing/appointing entity must log on and verify the Clearance Number. This is essential as it enables the entity to be contacted in the event that a Clearance is cancelled mid-way through its 5-year valid period. Local congregations should register as an organization, as can Conferences and Church entities. Safe Place Services advises that it is essential for congregations to do this in order to be compliant with the new WWCC requirement that Clearances be verified and a log of the results maintained.
- NT - http://www.workingwithchildren.nt.gov.au/forms.html Orche Card/clearance. A 'Working with Children Clearance Notice' is required for certain people who work or volunteer with children (a $5 application fee applies for volunteers).
- QLD - http://www.bluecard.qld.gov.au/ A 'Working with Children Check', known as a 'Blue Card', is required 3-yearly. An ID Card is issued to successful applicants.
- SA - https://www.police.sa.gov.au/services-and-events/apply-for-a-police-record-check Checks consist of a 'National Police Certificate' and a 'Screening Assessment/Check'. South Australia has two tiers of requirements. First, most people over 18-years working with children and young people (directly, in close proximity, or in the management/oversight of programs) must obtain a National Police Certificate (NPC) which is renewed 3-yearly. Second, in addition to the NPC, certain designated positions (as outlined in the local church policy) also require a 'Clearance Letter' from an authorized screening service such as the DCSI Screening Unit (Department for Communities and Social Inclusion). This check, available form July 2014 onwards, is now required of certain staff/volunteers in religious and spiritual organizations. Click here for a PDF application form that needs to be completed for the DCSI check to be undertaken. The form can be printed and lodged at an Australia Post office. Note that there is a small fee for applying for this check, even for volunteers (at this point in time). Click here for a further PDF Fact Sheet on the DCSI Screening Unit's Check/Assessment. Additional details about the DCSI Screening Check/Assessment are available at http://www.dcsi.sa.gov.au/services/screening/how-to-apply
- TAS - http://www.justice.tas.gov.au/working_with_children From 1 July 2014 a Working with Children Registration is being rolled out in Tasmania over a 3-year period. Staff and volunteers working in child-related position in a "religious activity" are required to complete Registration between 1 October 2014 and 1 April 2015. Click here for a PDF Fact Sheet on Exclusions which gives clarity about who does and does not have to comply with the check.
- VIC - www.justice.vic.gov.au/workingwithchildren A 'Working with Children Check' (WWCC) is required 5-yearly. Application forms are available from Post Offices (for example). An ID card is issued to successful applicants.
- WA - www.checkwwc.wa.gov.au A 'Working with Children Check' (WWCC) is required, 3-yearly. Application forms are available from Post Offices. An ID card is issued to successful applicants.
- New Zealand - http://www.justice.govt.nz/services/criminal-records/get-a-copy-of-your-criminal-record A criminal record history check is available through the Ministry of Justice. The check should be returned to the applicant, for it to be sighted and logged by the local Church or the appointing-body within the Union or Conference.
MAINTAINING A REGISTER OF STAFF & VOLUNTEER CHECK COMPLIANCE
The South Pacific Division (SPD) Membership Online Database used by the Adventist Church across Australia and New Zealand contains a 'volunteer tab' where details of WWCC compliance can be logged. This includes entering a card/document/certificate number, date of issue, and expiry date (where that is applicable, or where a renewal date is recommended such as with a National Police Certificate check). This data can be entered on the Database by Church Clerks who have login authority to update all local Church records. Login authority can also be granted to a 'safe place coordinator' user role, which permits this person to enter and update this data as well. Volunteers do not need to be Church members in order to log their checks on the Database.
NOTE ON NEW ZEALAND CHECKS
Volunteers in New Zealand and across the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference (NZPUC) working for Union-wide events run within New Zealand, may complete the 'Online Volunteer Pledge' on this website instead of completing a Criminal History Record Check through the Ministry of Justice or Police in New Zealand. This means that the Union's benchmark for all volunteers is the same regardless of their country of residence within NZPUC (this standard recognises that there is no requirement, established by law, for these volunteers to undergo a Police/Court history check in New Zealand).
Even though some of these countries may not have a local Church child protection policy, or code of conduct, the volunteers should still indicate on the pledge that they are aware of and have read these documents (available on this website) because these documents reflect the standards that apply for events run within NZ.
THE POSITION OF THE WORLDWIDE ADVENTIST CHURCH ON 'POLICE CHECKS'
The denomination's worldwide 'Church Manual' (18th Edition, 2010) states: "Everyone involved in work with children must meet Church and legal standards and requirements, such as background checks or certification" (see section Children's Ministries).
In applying this standard, the Church's position is that where Criminal History Record Checks in a particular region are either (i) required by law OR (ii) readily available, then they should be used. Visit www.adventist.org for a copy of the Church Manual.
In addition, the Church's South Pacific Division (SPD) "Child Protection" Policy (ADM 2045, voted December 2008) states, in regards to all the local Conference-regions and missions of the Church: "Screen all conference/mission church employees/volunteers with regard to any instances or allegations of child abuse. This will at least involve criminal record checks for paid staff and volunteers completing screening forms, including referee checks - which are assessed."
This statement includes the concept that Screening is more than a 'criminal check', but also involves applicants nominating Referees which are checked. Contact the South Pacific Division for details on their policies and publications via details at http://adventist.org.au
SCREENING SENDS IMPORTANT MESSAGES
Conducting Screening on a consistent, reliable basis with all staff and volunteers who work with children and young people helps send the messages:
- This Church values kids
- This Church recognise there are risks
- This Church is committed not only to the safety of children but also to the safe conduct of its staff and volunteers
- This Church values screening as grounds for people having trust in its programs and leaders
- There are no 'weak links' in this Church's expectations of screening of all staff and volunteers