How To Do Aged Care Police Checks in Australia
Aged care is the care of the elderly within the Australian community. There are various roles in this industry that require employees of different levels of skill and education history, but what remains a must-have quality of those working in this occupation is a caring attitude and good nature to spend time looking after vulnerable communities.
Police checks are a non-negotiable requirement for the aged care sector, and job candidates must be vetted carefully. The elderly are categorised as a vulnerable group that need care and consideration to be taken every time a new person joins the workforce. Anybody applying for a job in the aged care sector must have their record inspected for any misdemeanours that disqualifies them from working with and caring for these groups.
Why Are Police Checks for Aged Care Important?
An Australian police check is essential to the aged care industry. Elderly people are a vulnerable group, much like children and the disabled. Each of these industries need to hire the most suitable candidates for roles that give them access to vulnerable parties. Protection must be the priority of all aged care services and providers.
A national police check allows authorities to complete a thorough background check and assess the eligibility of a person to work in the sector. This then allows employers and organisations to hire the right people for the job, leaving elderly persons in capable and trustworthy hands.
A police check will uncover prior convictions which are not prohibited for aged care work, with the objective to diminish possibility of further offences by individuals to the elderly.
What Are The Requirements of An Aged Care Police Check?
There are basic requirements that any aged care provider should record when making decisions about an individual joining the sector. Police clearance is mandatory and must include the following information from a national police certificate:
- The name(s) and date of birth
- The issue date of the certificate
- The reference number or substitute
The national police check is a requirement of any person from the age of 16 who looks to work in this field. Other requirements generally include specific educational history and work experience to enter into this occupation.
Who Needs An Aged Care Police Check?
Police checks for employment within the aged care sector must be obtained by every member of staff before commencing work. This includes all paid employees who have supervised and unsupervised access to the elderly, and all unpaid volunteers who have the same access to the elderly. All staff must be a minimum of 16 years of age to work in aged care.
Statutory declarations may be accepted in special circumstances.
What Information Is Included In An Aged Care Police Check?
Every police check requires information from the applicant about the purpose of their application. A person submitting an application for a police check to work with the aged will need a full criminal background check. The check will disclose all disclosable convictions and pending charges if there are any.
On some occasions, spent convictions may be included, as there is a greater risk assessment applied to individuals seeking to work with vulnerable groups. The Australian spent convictions scheme is subject to different state and territory legislation, with the relevant policies being applied.
Do Any Offences Prohibit An Individual From Working in Aged Care?
Having a criminal record does not automatically prohibit a person from working in the company of the elderly. However, there are some offences which will disqualify a person, despite how much time has passed since the offence occurred. These offences are considered serious crimes, such as:
- Murder convictions
- Convictions for sexual assault
- Other forms of violence and assaults
Aged care hires must not have form for violence, and will not be accepted for any role where duties involve the care of elderly persons. Authorities conducting a national police check must include all offences of this nature in the police certificate so that aged care providers can prevent potentially harmful individuals from being recruited.
What If Other Offences Are Disclosed on a Police Check?
There are various types of offences which people have on their police record. While more serious crimes as mentioned above will prevent a person taking a job in the industry, providers may be more flexible about other offences. Each job applicant will be reviewed on an individual basis if they have other offences on record which are considered less serious, or irrelevant to the position.
When a police check is performed, police authorities decide which information from a person’s background check is relevant to the job in question. Some offences might not be shown on the certificate, but there are lots of factors which determine this decision. Whatever information is disclosed, aged care providers must then make an informed choice about whether to accept the candidate.
Decisions are not taken lightly, and factors to be considered can include:
- The pertinence of the offences to the job role
- The level of access the individual will have to the elderly person
- How much time has passed since the conviction, and whether the person has maintained a crime free period
- The person’s attitude to the offence
- How the person has spent time since, for example, employment history or studying since the conviction
- Rehabilitation programmes undertaken
- If there are links between convictions or recurring behavioural patterns
- The chances of the person committing a further offence
Does Spent Convictions Legislation Apply to Police Checks for Aged Care?
The Australian spent convictions scheme applies to every police check, following the legislation of the particular state and territory. A spent conviction is generally not released in the results of a police check as a proactive approach to preventing discrimination against individuals who have a criminal record.
For employment in aged care, spent legislation will apply where applicable. As aged care is categorised as an occupation handling vulnerable persons, spent convictions may be disclosed for safety reasons.
The outcome is dependent on the relevancy of the spent convictions to the specific job role, and the location where the offence took place.
Are Aged Care Providers Responsible For Keeping Police Check Records?
Certified aged care services and providers must keep records of staff members in compliance with a national criminal history check. This ensures the provider is operating securely and following protocol for employee screening to keep members of the aged community safe. Providers must ensure the following requirements are met:
- Each employee or volunteer working within the organisation has a valid national police certificate which is not dated older than 3 years. Police clearance is generally required every 3 years from employees who maintain work within the aged care sector.
- For every employee or volunteer applying for work with the provider, a national police check has been obtained.
- For any employee or volunteer that does not yet have national police clearance, a statutory declaration must be obtained.
- The aged care provider must review the police certificate of every employee or volunteer where the certificate was personally obtained by them to check its contents and authentication.
Records of staff and volunteer members should be regularly monitored and reviewed for accuracy, and to ensure compliance with the relevant authorities and legislations.
Does The Aged Care Sector Accept Statutory Declarations?
A statutory declaration is a written statement, signed and declared in the presence of an eligible witness that the information contained inside is true. In Australia, it is a criminal offence to provide false information in a statutory declaration.
Statutory declarations are accepted in the aged care sector on only two occasions. These are:
- When a new team member is waiting to obtain a national police clearance. This applies to paid and voluntary positions.
- When a team member has been a citizen of another country after the age of 16.
What Does The Aged Care Sector Entail?
Aged care is the professional industry which takes care of people who have reached an age where they are no longer able to perform certain tasks or take care of themselves in the way they once could. There are various levels of aged care, with some people requiring low levels of assistance in living independently, and others requiring more full time help with everyday living.
The aged care sector employs people to assist elderly people in many ways, from cleaning homes and preparing meals, to feeding, bathing and supporting mobility. There are lots of organisations and services involved in the sector, with different facilities available for different levels of need. Examples of aged care settings include the following:
- Nursing homes
- Care homes
- Assisted living accommodations
- Private homes
What Legislation Is In Place for Aged Care Services?
Police clearance and criminal background checks for aged care settings are supported by legislation. Care services in Australia comply with the Aged Care Act 1997 under Commonwealth law. All services within the sector are covered and operate to standards outlined by The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
How Can Aged Care Providers Administer Police Checks?
Aged care services and providers can obtain police checks for employees and potential employees by applying through the Australian police authorities or using an accredited national police check provider who can issue a police check online.
In many aged care environments, police checks can be obtained either by the individual employee or volunteer themselves through a local police station or accredited agency, or the organisation can obtain police checks on behalf of employees and volunteers.
Many organisations streamline their recruitment process by using agencies accredited by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
Where an individual has self-obtained a police check, the aged care organisation must be sure to check that the certificate is authentic, to prevent individuals from joining the organisation under false pretences, and putting others at risk.
Aged Care Police Checks in Australia
Carers will always be needed in Australia for people who have reached a position where they can no longer maintain their own care and require some level of assistance. The industry employs people of all backgrounds and personalities, and it is vital that each person is assessed with scrutiny before accessing elderly individuals, whether in supervised or unsupervised environments.
Aged care providers are responsible for screening all employees and volunteers in compliance with national police checks. They must maintain regular assessment of staff members to keep the aged care sector operating as safely as possible.