Sheila McHale

Sheila McHale

Minister for Disability Services; Tourism; Culture and the Arts; Consumer Protection

    Tough criminal screening designed to protect our children

    4/01/2006 12:00 AM

    Volunteers who work with children up to seven years old, coaches, tutors, self-employed people including babysitters and ministers of religion, are among the first required to have a new Working With Children criminal record check.

    Community Development Minister Sheila McHale said the new Working With Children screening laws, part of the nation’s toughest crack down on paedophiles, came into effect on January 1 and would be phased in over five years.

    “The laws are tough and allow for national criminal convictions, spent convictions and charges to be assessed,” Ms McHale said.

    “Most people who work with children are caring and professional, but unfortunately those who molest or harm children often seek work providing easy access to them.”

    The Minister said the first people to be screened would include volunteers who worked with children up to seven years, self-employed people including babysitters, new paid employees including coaches and private tutors, as well as ministers of religion.

    “In subsequent years, those checked would include volunteers working with older children and those where checking already exists, such as teachers, health staff, foster carers and child care workers,” she said.

    “People can collect Working With Children application forms from their nearest post office, fill them out and then ensure their employer, volunteer organisation or church completes the other section of the application.

    “Applicants then need to present photo identification and proof of their residence when lodging their application at a post office.”

    Ms McHale said a record check would cost $10 for volunteers and $50 for paid workers and give applicants a special ‘Working With Children’ card, valid for three years.

    “The card is not an endorsement of someone’s suitability to work with children, but it minimises the risk of children being placed in unsafe environments,” she said.

    “Although screening is already carried out within many parts of the community, this universal, high standard check will significantly strengthen child protection.

    “Western Australia will be the only State which, in five years, will have checked all new and existing people in child-related work - be they volunteers or paid employees.

    “These checks are rigorous, but I make no apologies for that. The Gallop Government is determined to ensure that the safety of our children is paramount.”

    More information is available on the WWC website:

    Minister's office: 9213 6900