Risk assessment

Last update: 20 June 2022

How Working with Children Check risk assessments are triggered and processed.

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    Risk assessment overview

    A risk assessment is an assessment of a person’s records to determine whether they pose a risk to the safety of children in child-related work.

    The assessment can be undertaken on your application or after you have been issued with a clearance if new police or workplace records are identified. 

    Most people can work with children while the assessment takes place. If there are concerns  that there is a likely risk to the safety of children, we will issue an Interim Bar until we have completed our risk assessment.

    The risk assessment looks at:

    • the nature, seriousness and circumstances of any offences or incidents
    • the length of time that has passed since the offences or incidents
    • any victims and your relationship to them
    • your conduct since any offences or incidents.

    The outcome of the risk assessment will be to grant a WWCC clearance or bar the person from working with children for 5 years. 

    Triggers for risk assessment

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    There are a number of records that can trigger a Working with Children Check application to be sent for risk assessment:

    • offences listed in Schedule 1 of the WWC Act
    • findings of misconduct
    • notifications by the Reportable Conduct Directorate
    • a pattern of behaviour.

    Under 15(3) of the Working With Children Act, the Children’s Guardian may also conduct a risk assessment if a person has other are records relevant to the safety to the safety of children. This might include information shared under Chapter 16A of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 which allows prescribed agencies to exchange information to facilitate services that promote the safety, welfare and well-being of children. Police records that do not fall under Schedule 1 may also be referred to risk assessment if they are considered relevant to the safety of children.

    Police records

    Schedule 1 records include: 

    • charges relating to violence or sexual offending against a child, whatever the outcome of the proceedings (including findings of Not Guilty)
    • serious or aggravated animal cruelty 
    • offences relating to recording intimate images, filming or observation of a child 
    • drug offences involving children 
    • offences involving intentional harmful conduct including poisoning and arson  

    A full list of police records can be found in Schedule 1.  
     

    Findings of misconduct

    We risk assess if there are any findings by a reporting body that any of the following conduct has occurred:

    1. Sexual misconduct committed against, with or in the presence of a child, including grooming a child
    2. Any serious physical assault of a child.
    Notifications by the Reportable Conduct Directorate

    The Reportable Conduct Directorate may notify the Working with Children Check Directorate of any concerns they become aware of during the course of a workplace investigation that are relevant to the person working with children. 

    Patterns of behaviour

    Convictions or pending charges for offences involving violence or sexual misconduct may also trigger a risk assessment if they indicate a pattern of behaviour that warrant an investigation because of child safety concerns.

    Risk assessment process

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    The Office of the Children’s Guardian will let you know that your application is being risk assessed. We will also keep you informed during the process.

    1 We email you

    We will email the address on your WWCC application to let you know that your application has been identified as needing a risk assessment.

    2 We request information from you

    Your records only make up part of our assessment. We will want to hear from you about the events that led to the assessment, what your life is like now, any experience you’ve had working with or caring for kids. We want to hear about what you think is important in helping keep kids safe. We don’t think it’s fair to do an assessment without hearing your side of the story. 

    3 We gather information from other agencies

    We often ask other government agencies for information, to help us with our assessment. Agencies that we go to often are Department of Communities and Justice and NSW Police but each case is different. We will tell you what information we obtain. 

    4 We consider a range of factors to determine if you pose a risk to the safety of children

    Section 15 of the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 sets out what can be considered when assessing risk.

    5 We will contact you if a bar is being considered

    We will let you know why we are considering a bar and ensure you have a further opportunity to give us information before a final decision is made.

    6 We make a final decision to clear or bar your application

    You will be notified of the outcome in writing. It is important to keep your details to up date so that we can contact you. 

    Risk assessment outcomes

    If you are granted a WWCC clearance, you can work with children.

    You will receive an email which contains your WWCC number which you must provide to your employer. Your clearance will last 5 years. If we become aware of further police or workplace records, we may conduct another risk assessment. 

    If you are barred from working with children, you must stop working with children immediately.

    You will receive a Notice of Final Decision and Reasons for the decision. You can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to appeal a Working with Children Check bar. Applications for a review must be lodged with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal within 28 days of receiving notification of a bar. You are encouraged to seek your own independent legal advice about the appeal process. For more information on the appeal process, call the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal on 1300 006 228 or visit www.ncat.nsw.gov.au.
     

    Frequently asked questions

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    Common questions about Working with Children Check applications that are under risk assessment.

    Can I withdraw my WWCC application?

    Yes, you can email WWCCassessment@ocg.nsw.gov.au to request to withdraw your application during risk assessment.

    Your request will be considered by the Children’s Guardian. If the Guardian is of the opinion that it is likely that there is risk to the safety of children you may not be permitted to withdraw your application and the risk assessment will continue.

    You will be advised if your request to withdraw your application is accepted or refused. Please note, if your application is withdrawn and you applied for a paid Working with Children Check, the fee you paid is non-refundable.

    How long do WWCC risk assessments take?

    It’s important we have all relevant information before we make a decision. We rely on external agencies such as NSW local and district courts, Corrective Services NSW and the Department Communities and Justice to provide information to inform the assessment process. 

    Because we rely heavily on external sources of information, it can be difficult to provide a timeframe for completion. Depending on the complexity of the assessment, the time to make a decision can exceed 12 months.

    Most people can work with children while we conduct the assessment. 

    Due to current high demand for WWCC, processing times have been affected and assessments may take longer than 12 months. 

    What is considered in the risk assessment process?

    Section 15 of the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 sets out what can be considered when assessing risk.

    As part of the risk assessment process, we may request information from other agencies as well as the applicant.

    You will be contacted by the Office of the Children’s Guardian if your application is being risk assessed and you can provide information. It is an opportunity to participate in the process and put forward your case for being cleared.

    Can I work while being risk assessed?

    Most people can do child-related work using their Application number until they receive their clearance or a bar. Check with your organisation about working during the screening process as some organisations only allow applicants to work after they have been given a cleared Working with Children number.

    If there are concerns that there is a likely risk to the safety of children we can issue an Interim Bar until we have completed our risk assessment.

    Multilingual information

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