Worker screening is a way to check potential support workers are suitable for the job and don’t present an unacceptable risk to you or other people with disability.
We would recommend that whether you directly engage support , use a registered or in registered provider, that you do your own checks on support worker who work with you or your family member.
If you are using non registered providers, it is your responsibility to check the suitability and credentials of the workers who are supporting you or your family member.
If you are using a service provider, it also might be worthwhile doing your own worker screening.
Generally, worker screening consists of
- National Police Check
- Working with Vulnerable People/ Working with Children Check– State Based Checks
- Interviewing support workers
- Checking references
(The NDIS Quality Safeguard Commission is planning a national data base for worker screening. This is not available at the current time)
National Police Check
A Police check is a 'point in time' check, meaning the results only reflect police records on the date that the check is released.
A Police Check lists ‘disclosable court outcomes’.
Disclosable Court Outcomes might include
- Court admissions and findings of guilt
- Court convictions
- Good behaviour bonds, community-based orders, and suspended sentences
- Interstate criminal outcomes
- Traffic infringements heard in court
- Matters where a person has been charged but has not yet appeared in court
- Outstanding warrants
A Police check might not include
- Charges that have been withdrawn
- Overseas convictions
- Infringement notices (such as parking fines or speeding fines) that do not go to court
- Convictions considered ‘spent’ - unless the category of employment or purpose of the check is exempt from any relevant legislation. (Generally, an offence is ‘spent’ if it is older than five years if convicted as a child, or older than ten years in any other case)
Working with vulnerable people check, working with children – State Based Checks
These checks vary from state to and it is important to note that these checks are not the same as a police check.
State based Checks are:
- Working with Children Check,
- Working with Vulnerable people check
Check your state for more information.
New South Wales
- Ochre Card – working with Children Clearance Card
Australian Capital Territory
What’s the difference between a Police Check and Working with Children/ Vulnerable People check?
A police check is a point-in-time summary of a person’s Australian criminal history and includes national convictions and may include certain types of spent convictions.
Working with Children/ Vulnerable people checks can be checked for currency at any time. These checks are more detailed.
Checks vary from State to State but can include
- National convictions – withdrawn, spent, non-convictions
- Criminal charges – pending, withdrawn, dismissed, acquitted
- Information from other government agencies related to care concerns and investigations.
- Workplace misconduct
Please check your state information if you are engaging a worker to support a child. It may be against the law to engage someone in child related work without a ‘Working with Children Check’.
In States where there is not a ‘working with vulnerable people check’ you can use the ‘working with children check’ to gain more information about a potential support worker, even if they are supporting an adult.
NDIS Commission: Worker Screening Database – coming soon
For more information Check the NDIS Quality Safeguard Commission Interim Screening measures
The NDIS Commission is working with state and territory governments to develop an NDIS Worker Screening Database to support the NDIS Worker Screening Checks.
The database will:
- have a register of cleared and excluded workers from all states and territories to enable national portability of clearances
- support national ongoing monitoring of the criminal history records of workers with clearances
- enable NDIS providers to go to one place to sponsor applications and verify the clearances of prospective workers, without needing to contact individual states and territories’ worker screening units
- help NDIS providers with record-keeping requirements.
- The NDIS Worker Screening Database will commence operation as the NDIS Worker Screening Check is rolled out in each state and territory. Information about how to access and use the NDIS Worker Screening Database will be available closer to release.
Interviews are important if you are recruiting your own support workers.
Interviewing gives you an opportunity to see if the support worker is likely to be a good fit. Asking open ended questions can help you gain an understanding of the worker’s values, interests and, importantly, can help verify that the worker has the experience and skills that they say they have.
Even if you are not recruiting yourself but using a service provider you can ask for an interview or have a 'meet and greet' before you engage a new support worker.
Seek Employer has some good ideas about interviewing new workers. https://www.seek.com.au/employer/hiring-advice/interviews
Resume and Reference checks
You can ask your support worker for their resume and for references
- Checking references can help you make more informed decisions when engaging a new support worker. You can check their credentials, suitability for the job and verify the claims made by applicants in their interview
- The following template from Fair Work Australia can guide you when you are engaging a new support worker.
Even with the best of worker screening, unsuitable support workers can slip through. It is important to consider other safeguards are in place. Safeguards can be things like: family, friends and/or neighbours checking in with you; you feeling confident to speak up when things are not going well or you have concerns; knowing you have choice and control over your support; knowing your rights; knowing how to complain and who you can complain to.
The NDIS Quality Safeguard Commission has a code of conduct all disability support workers and providers (registered and non registered) must abide by. Any breaches of the code should be reported to the NDIS Commission.
Disclaimer: This article contains general information about Worker Screening Checks and is not advice. Please make your owregarding worker screening in your State or Territory and/or contact the NDIS Commission https://www.ndiscommission.gov.au/
Updates 26 May 2020