Working with Children Checks
The Victorian Government has legislated that persons who work with children must undergo checks on their criminal records. Persons who have a conviction for a relevant criminal offense (sex, drugs and violent offenses) will be prohibited from working with children.
The requirement for the check applies to all levels of basketball where there are minors involved, for domestic through to representative competitions.
The Working with Children Act creates offense carrying very high penalties for non-compliance and those offenses apply not to just those persons working with children but to their supervisors, organisations employing them and Committee/Board members of organisations in which people work with children.
In representative basketball, the Working with Children Checks (WWC) will replace Police Checks.
The Act does have some exemptions. Police and teachers (who have separate checks) do not have to get a WWC. However, they should give you proof that they are police or teachers, such as a copy of the teacher's Institute of Teaching Card. These exemptions will be recognised by Basketball Victoria.
The act also exempts parents where their children are playing in the team in which the parent is involved as a coach etc. Also exempt are adults where all children in a team are closely related to the person. However, Basketball Victoria will not recognise these exemptions and will require those parents or close relatives to have the checks. This is in line with most sports and has the support of the Working with Children Office.
The WWC will last for 5 years.
In addition, Basketball Victoria has introduced a Member Protection Statutory Declaration to be completed by each person required to undergo a WWC. This declaration covers a variety of matters outside the WWC. This must be completed each year. If a person cannot truthfully sign a declaration, that person must write to the Registrar of the Member Protection Tribunal in confidence, setting out why the declaration cannot be truthfully made. A decision will then be made on whether the person should be working with children.
The Act requires all persons working with children to have the check if they have or are likely to have individual or unsupervised contact with children. This includes coaches, team managers and drivers and will also include referees and referee coaches. Associations and clubs are urged to err on the side of caution in deciding who should be screened and screen a person if there is any doubt on whether or not they are required to be screened.
Applying for a WWC is relatively easy and free for volunteers. It is similar to applying for a passport and you will need a passport photograph and appropriate identification similar to opening a new bank account. Forms and an information pack may be obtained from most post offices or by calling the WWC Information Line on 1300 652 879. You will need to attend the post office personally to lodge the application. However, certain post offices will provide a service where a staff member attends by appointment to process the applications in bulk. So, it may be possible for you to organise a night where a number of people needing to be screened attend the stadium at an appointed time and all have their applications lodged at the same time. You should ensure that all persons applying, name your association or club in the application so that you receive direct advice when they have been approved or otherwise.
Further information can be obtained from http://www.justice.vic.gov.au/workingwithchildren