Why is it Required To Have a Criminal History Police Check in the Nursing or Aged Care Industry?

 
Jobs in the nursing and aged care sectors are increasing rapidly in Australia. A person’s role in aged care may involve tasks such as assisting in general household tasks, emotional support, care, or provide company to aged and disabled people.
 
Any work which involves having contact with children, an adult who is disadvantaged or in need of special care, support, or protection because of age, disability, or risk of abuse or neglect, or an adult accessing a service provided to disadvantaged people, may be classified as "working with vulnerable groups”.
 
With the rapid growth in population, there is an increased threat to the safety of the residents of Australia, but also an increasing need of health carers as well. Safety is one of the biggest reasons why employment screening is an integral part of the aged care industry in Australia.

Under which act is police checking required for care providers?

The Department of Health and Ageing implemented police clearance requirements for Commonwealth-funded aged care organizations or Approved Providers in the year 2007 under the Aged Care Act 1997.
 
In 2009, the Act was further expanded as part of the ongoing effort of the Australian Government to protect the health, security, and well-being of vulnerable beneficiaries of aged care.

Later the guidelines of Police check certificates were developed to assist the Approved Providers and were updated in 2017.
Such guidelines are being implemented to complement rigorous recruiting practices. It states that it is a part of an Approved Provider's responsibility to ensure that all staff and volunteers are appropriate to care for the elderly.

1. What is the primary requirement?

The Approved Providers must ensure that the individual who is applying to work in aged care must obtain a National Police check (NPC).

The NPC certificate must be obtained with the details of:
 
  • Applicant's full name with date of birth
  • The issue date of the certificate
  • A reference number for verification
If any case, Approved Providers failed to meet the Police certificate guidelines, they might face the compliance action under the Act.

2. Who must obtain a Police clearance?

 
Individuals working in this industry who are required to obtain a police check are:
 
  1. Members of the staff who are more than 16 years old and can have either supervised or unsupervised access to aged carers
  2. Volunteers aged more than 16 who have unsupervised access to aged carers
Job seekers must undertake a Police check certificate that displays no relevant offenses to prevent them from working with aged care.Find more information on relevant offenses below.

3. Options for obtaining a Police check

 
According to the guidelines, Approved Providers can obtain the certificate on the individual’s behalf, or individuals themselves can get it:
 
  1. From the Australian Federal Police (AFP) or State Policeor
  2. By engaging with a third-party provider who is an accredited body of the ACIC, or Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (such as KONCHECK).

4. When should you obtain a Police check?

 
It is generally recommended to obtain a Police check before applying for the job. An application for police check must be issued before the start date, and the applicant must be monitored during this period.

However, in some cases, exceptions can be made under certain circumstances. If Staff members and Volunteers applied for the check, but it's not yet completed, a statutory declaration needs to be made. The declaration should state that the individual has not been convicted of any precluding offenses.

As the National Police Check only covers offenses under Australian states and Territories, the permanent residents of other countries are required to sign a statutory declaration that they have not been convicted of any precluding crimes.

Police check certificates generally need to be renewed every three years for people working in this industry. According to the guidelines, an Approved Provider must take necessary measures to ensure people who are already working must inform them if they are convicted during these three years.

5. Offenses that preclude employment in aged care

 
According to the Act, an individual will not be allowed to work in the industry if they commit any of these offenses:
 
  1. Convicted for sexual assault and murder
  2. Convicted for any assault
All individuals who are convicted with the above charges cannot work as an unsupervised volunteer. If any current staff or volunteer commits such offenses, it is the duty of the Approved Provider to take a strict step.

6. What measures to take for other offenses?

 
According to the Police certificate guidelines, any offenses that do not preclude an applicant from working in aged care must get dealt on a case by case basis.
If an Approved Provider decides that an individual with any recorded conviction can work in this sector, his decision must be transparent and defensible.
 
The Approved Provider must look into:
 
  1. The relevance of the offence to the job role
  2. How long ago the crime was committed
  3. The person's attitude to the offence
  4. Any particular pattern of criminality or if it is an isolated pattern
  5. What will be the access of the individual to the care recipients and level of supervision
  6. The employment history of the person since the conviction
The Police certificate guidelines provide detailed information on this part to help Approved Providers make this decision.

7. What about 'spent convictions' in aged care?

 
Though the rule varies among different states and territory-wise, it is often considered that a National Police Check certificate does not disclose 'spent convictions' if a person has a ten-year crime-free period.

So, what will happen if an aged care applicant was convicted of any precluded offenses, and those convictions are now "spent”? Is there any specific type of check required to work with aged care or vulnerable groups?

Police checks involving work with vulnerable groups will reveal serious offenses, sexual offenses, and offenses against the person for employment or occupations involving the aged care, instruction, or supervision of vulnerable persons. This is the specific type of police clearance that should be carried out for aged care work.

How can KONCHECK assist you in obtaining a Police check certificate?
 

The benefits of KONCHECK include:
 
  • KONCHECK is an accredited body of the ACIC
  • Offers both Police checks for Employment and Volunteer purposes on a single online platform
  • It is pocket-friendly and capable of delivering the certificate generally within 1-2 business days
  • Police Certificates issued are COMPLIANT with the Act
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