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National Police Clearance: The Ultimate Guide to Getting One for Volunteering
Have you been considering taking up a volunteer role?
The act of volunteering, which is defined as “Time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain,” can offer volunteers numerous benefits.
Firstly, it is a wonderful way to give back to your community and make a lasting, positive difference to the lives of the less fortunate. Volunteering has also been shown to be beneficial for your mental health and wellbeing, as well as your relationships and social life.
In addition, it is one of the most powerful ways to support an organisation or cause that is close to your heart.
But before you get ready to apply for your dream volunteering role, there is something you should keep in mind.
While many organisations, companies, and facilities that accept volunteers are eager to bring on new ones, don’t assume that you’ll be accepted in an instant.
Many volunteering roles require interested applicants to undertake a national police clearance before they’re even shortlisted.
If you want to learn more about the process of getting a national police clearance for a volunteer role, you’ve come to the right place.
This guide will cover everything you need to know.
National Police Clearance: Definition
A national police clearance is a type of official background check conducted by Australian police forces. In order to conduct it, Australian police forces check the given applicant’s name against criminal records maintained Australia-wide.
If any disclosable criminal offences are identified, each one will be stated on the applicant’s national police clearance results. (To learn more about which types of criminal offences are considered disclosable, refer to the section below, “What Information Will Be Stated on My National Criminal History Check?”)
A national police clearance is known by several other names, including but not limited to:
- Criminal background check
- Criminal record check
- Police check in Australia
- National police certificate
- Police clearance
- National criminal history check
To help you to familiarise yourself with these various names, we have used them throughout our guide.
Why Am I Being Asked to Provide One?
It is considered standard practice for an organisation, company, or facility that accepts volunteers to ask interested applicants to undertake or provide a copy of their national police certificate .
Under state legislation, it is a legal requirement for anyone wishing to engage in certain types of volunteering roles to submit a national police clearance. This legal requirement primarily concerns volunteering roles that involve working with children or other vulnerable individuals.
The main types of volunteer settings that must abide by this legal requirement include:
- Charities and organisations involving children
- Commonwealth aged care facilities
- Commonwealth funded aged care facilities
- Certain government departments
As the law regarding this may vary between states and territories, the information provided here should serve as a guide only.
Even if it is not a legal requirement for an organisation, company, or facility to ask volunteers to undertake a national police clearance, some may still ask you to provide the results of yours as a means of assessing your suitability for the given volunteer position.
(If your volunteering role involves working with children, there is a high likelihood that you will also need to provide an official document known as a Working With Children Check (WWCC). For more information about WWCCs, refer to the respective volunteering position’s description and/or relevant state or territory legislation).
What Type of National Police Certificate Should I Provide the Organisation, Company, or Facility I Wish to Volunteer With?
If you have been asked to provide a national police certificate by the organisation, company, or facility you want to volunteer with, you should ensure that you opt for the “volunteer” type.
There is, in fact, only one other type of national police clearance available: an “employment” type.
If you think you may instead require a national police clearance for employment purposes, click here to learn more.
What Information Will Be Stated on My National Criminal History Check?
Your national criminal history check will state information pertaining to any disclosable convictions you have committed in any state or territory in Australia.
In plain English, not every conviction to your name will necessarily turn up on your national criminal history check results.
Whether a particular conviction will or will not be included is dictated by a piece of legislation called the Spent Convictions Scheme (otherwise known as the Spent Convictions Legislation).
This legislation places limitations on the disclosure of particular older offences. In order for information about an older offence not to be released (i.e. for the conviction to be considered ‘spent’), specific criteria must be met. That is:
- A certain period of time (known as a ‘waiting period’) must have passed. For convictions where the individual was dealt with as an adult, this period is 10 years in all states and territories. For convictions where the individual was dealt with as a minor, this period is 5 years in all states and territories except for NSW, where it is 3 years.
- The individual must not have reoffended during the waiting period applicable to them. If they did, their waiting period will be reset.
- The offence that was committed must not be excluded from the Spent Convictions Scheme relevant to the offender. This is notable because Commonwealth, state, or territory legislation may exclude certain offences from the Spent Convictions Scheme. For example, an offence that is typically never spent is sex offences.
Do I Need to Order a Police Check That is Specific to My State or Territory?
Your police check must be processed by the police agency in the state or territory you usually reside in. That means that when it comes time to place your order, you must select the appropriate police check based on the state or territory you live in.
While the police check you order will be conducted by the police agency in your respective state or territory, it is important to be cognizant of the fact that when you get your police check in Australia, it will show any disclosable criminal convictions committed in any Australian state or territory.
Is it Mandatory to Provide a National Police Clearance to the Organisation or Company I Want to Volunteer With?
As stated in the section above, some organisations, companies, and facilities are required by the law to ask volunteers to undertake a police clearance. If you wish to volunteer in one of those settings, it is mandatory to provide one.
Of course, you can always refuse to. But if you do, you will not be able to legally provide your volunteering services to the given organisation, company, or facility (read: you will not be able to volunteer there).
So what about situations where it is not a legal requirement to provide one?
It will be up to each organisation, company, or facility to decide whether they still wish to bring you on board.
If a national police clearance is used to screen applicants, you may diminish your chances of being selected if you do not provide one.
Remember, many volunteer positions have no shortage of applicants. More competitive positions may even get hundreds of applicants. So if you refuse to undertake one and a comparable applicant submits theirs, there is a good chance their application will outshine yours.
I am 18 or Under. Do I Still Need to Provide One?
If you are 18 or under, you may not be required to provide a police check depending on the state or territory where the organisation, company, or facility you wish to volunteer with is located.
These laws can change, so we advise that you consult your respective state or territory’s laws for the most up-to-date information.
Will I Still Be Able to Volunteer if I Have a Criminal Record?
Having a criminal record isn’t necessarily a barrier to volunteering.
Whether you will still be able to volunteer with a given organisation, company, or facility if you have a criminal record will likely depend on:
- The type of offence or offences you committed.
- When and where the offence or offences were committed.
- The legal requirements and internal guidelines an organisation, company, or facility must abide by in regards to volunteers with criminal records.
As each organisation, company, or facility will differ in these regards, it is best to check with each respective one.
How Often Do I Need to Have a Police Check?
At the time of writing, if you wish to volunteer in a Commonwealth Government supported or funded aged care program or facility, you are legally required to undertake a police check every three years.
To obtain up-to-date information about this, you can call the Aged Care Information Line on 1800 500 853.
For all other organisations, companies, or facilities, you should check with the respective one you wish to volunteer with.
Why Should I Choose Crime Check Australia to Order My Volunteer Police Check?
There are a few methods you can use to order your volunteer police check.
In the past, the only way to order your police check was to go into your local police station and manually submit your form and mandatory documents
Now, you also have the option of ordering your police check online using an online provider.
If you choose to go with this option, it is critical to place your order with an Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) accredited online provider.
Only an ACIC accredited online provider is legally authorised to submit applications and retrieve police check results on behalf of applicants.
This is one of the many reasons why thousands of volunteers have turned to Crime Check Australia to get their volunteer police checks.
We are an accredited body of the ACIC, so we have the legal authorisation to handle your volunteer police check from start to finish.
In addition to this, there are numerous other reasons why we are the online police check provider of choice for so many volunteers. Here are a few major reasons why we believe you’ll find it worthwhile to order with us:
- Speed: 70% of police check results we process are returned within one business day.
- Easy-to-use ordering form: We designed our online form to be as easy to complete as possible. It’s so simple that you can fill it out in just 5 minutes!
- 100% online: You can complete your entire order 100% online using your computer, mobile, or tablet. Our site is mobile-optimised to ensure that you have an optimal user experience no matter which device you choose to use.
- Flexible: Whether in your bed or on a bus, it’s up to you when and where you submit your order.
- Secure: Unfortunately, some online crime check providers do not take their customers’ security needs as seriously as we do. We use an ultra-secure 256-bit SSL encrypted online platform to perform all of our police checks.
- Exceptional customer service: We have a dedicated customer service team to answer any questions you have.
- Regular updates: We will inform you as soon as we have any updates about your application, so you are always kept in the loop.
- Digital copy of your police check: You will receive a digital copy of your police check directly to your inbox. This means that you won’t need to waste time physically collecting it from anywhere, or even scanning or printing it off. You can simply email it to wherever you wish to volunteer.
- All jurisdictions: We offer police checks for all jurisdictions in Australia.
- We will help handle any problems with your police check: Whether you place your order online or in person, there is always a slight chance that your police check may be flagged by police agencies. If it is, you may need to wait a bit longer to receive your results. Police may flag your police check for a range of reasons (for example, simply because you have a common name). If this happens, you won’t want to be left wondering what has gone wrong. That’s why we offer to liaise with the respective police agencies concerned on our customers’ behalf.
As you can see, there are countless benefits to ordering your police check online with us.
What Mandatory Documents Do I Need to Prepare for My Criminal Record Check?
There are a few mandatory ID documents you will need to provide in order for your criminal record check to be processed. They are:
- 1 primary document. Examples of acceptable documents include your Australian marriage certificate issued by a state or territory, current proof of age or photo identity card issued by an Australian Government agency (in your name with a signature and photo), and current Australian drivers licence, learner permit, or provisional licence issued by a state or territory (it must show your signature and/or photo and the same name as claimed).
- 1 commencement document. Examples of acceptable documents include your current Australian passport (not expired), full Australian Birth Certificate (not an extract or birth card), and certificate of evidence of resident status.
- 2 secondary documents. Examples of acceptable documents include your Medicare Card, bank card, credit card, or photo Identity Card issued to an officer by a Police Force, the Australian Defence Force, or the Australian Government, or a state or territory government.
The way in which you will need to provide them will depend on which method of ordering your criminal record check you have chosen.
If you submit a paper application at a police station or post office, you will need to produce originals of these documents.
If, however, you order your criminal record check online with Crime Check Australia, you can simply upload a copy of your mandatory ID documents. Please note, you will also be required to submit a selfie holding one of the documents above that features a photograph of you. We ask you to do this so that we can verify your identity and help protect you from identity fraud.
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Criminal Background Check for Volunteer Purposes?
You can order your criminal background check for volunteer purposes from Crime Check Australia for $79.00 (including G.S.T).
All you will need to do is complete our online form, and we will handle the rest.
What Should I Do if I Need To Provide a National Police Clearance to Volunteer Overseas?
If you have been asked to provide a national police clearance in order to volunteer overseas, you can order your Australian police check with us.
I am Ready to Order My National Police Clearance, What Should I Do?
Once you are ready to place your order, you can follow this link to get started.
As you will see, there are only five quick steps you will need to complete.
To ensure that you have everything you need to complete the process as quickly as possible, it is worth preparing your mandatory ID documents in advance.
If you need a reminder about which documents you will need to upload, we have listed them above in the section called, “What Mandatory Documents Do I Need to Prepare for My Police Check?”
One final thing to remember is to select the right type of national police check. In your case, you will need to order the volunteer type.
To help you avoid making a mistake, we make this as straightforward as possible. All you need to do is select “Volunteer (for Unpaid Work or Activity)” in the “Check Type” drop-down menu in Step 1. (The other option is Standard AA (for Paid Work or Activity), but this is designed for police checks for employment purposes).
What Should I Do if I Still Have Questions About Ordering a Police Check?
If you still have any questions about getting a national police clearance for volunteering purposes or ordering yours through Crime Check Australia, we’re here to help.
We suggest first taking a read of our extensive list of FAQ.