New figures shine a spotlight on unsafe employers

20 October 2017 

 

The NSW Children’s Guardian Ms Janet Schorer has issued a strong warning to employers and organisations they risk creating unsafe environments for children if they don’t comply with their Working With Children Check legislative obligations.

 

The warning follows the release of new figures in the 2016-17 Annual Report of the Office of the Children’s Guardian which was tabled today.

 

“The Office of the Children’s Guardian investigates instances of alleged non-compliance, by employers or employees, with the Working With Children Check,” Ms Schorer said.

 

“It also conducts auditing and compliance activities to help identify where organisations are not meeting their legislative obligations and assists them to do so.

 

“Following one audit, over two thousand organisations started to verify the WWC numbers of their workers where they had not previously done so.

 

“Organisations engaged with children need to go online and register with the Office of the Children’s Guardian so they can verify the Working With Children numbers of their workers.

 

“An important strength of this background checking system is that people with a Working With Children number will be subject to continuous monitoring for new relevant criminal offences in NSW for the five-year life of the clearance.

 

“This on-going monitoring takes place because identifying previous criminal records at the time a person applies for a Working With Children Check is not a guarantee against future offending.

 

“If a worker is cleared and subsequently barred or has their application closed, or withdraws their application, the Office of the Children’s Guardian contacts verifying employers.

 

“We notify them of their worker’s change of status and to ensure the barred worker is removed from child-related work, including voluntary work.

 

“My concern is that some organisations are not doing the right thing and potentially creating environments that should be safe for children.”

 

In 2016-17:

  • nearly 400 thousand Working With Children Check applications were processed.
  • 831 people were barred from working with children.
  • The Office of the Children’s Guardian was notified of 2927 continuous check events against WWCC applicants - the highest figure in the past four years.
  • 327 people had their Working With Children Check clearances cancelled following a continuous check event.
  • nearly a third (97) of those cancelled had no previous criminal record or workplace records at the time they first applied for a WWCC.

 “There are 1.6 million children in NSW who will engage with a range of organisations and the community has a reasonable expectation that these organisations will do the right thing,” Ms Schorer said.

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