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What's the difference between the Working with Children Check and a Police Check?

The Working with Children Check and a Police Check are two different checks.

Part 2 – Objects, principles and guidelines of the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, Section 3 – Object and principles, part 4 (c) states:

 (4) The following principles must be taken into account in connection with the administration, operation and enforcement of this Act:

        (c) a working with children check is not a determination of a person's suitability to work with children and                   cannot be relied on as such, and in particular—

                         (i) a working with children check that does not result in a person being prohibited from working                                 with children is not proof of good character; and

                        (ii) a working with children check that does not result in a person being prohibited from working                                 with children is not proof that the person does not pose a risk to children;


Working with Children Check

Police Check

How does it work?

The Working with Children Check is an ongoing assessment of a person’s eligibility to work or volunteer with children based on their known past police and disciplinary information.

A Police Check is only current at the time of issue and is a list of offences from a person’s criminal history which can be disclosed.

There is no assessment or investigation made by a government agency.

What does it check?

The WWCC involves an assessment of information to ensure a person’s fitness to work with children. For example:

  • child protection information
  • disciplinary action
  • spent convictions
  • information sourced from professional registration bodies
  • pending charges
  • findings of guilt as well as non-conviction charges
  • the context and circumstances of any offending
  • the seriousness and relevance of any conviction(s).


The WWCC also includes a check of a person’s national criminal history (including withdrawn, spent1, non-convictions), charges (including pending2, withdrawn, dismissed, acquitted) and non-conviction3 charges), and other disciplinary and police information. This information is collected from sources in Australia.

This information is only disclosed to the Board if it relates to a person’s fitness to work with children. Under the CAU agreement with ACIC, matters relating to fitness and probity revealed in this check are not disclosable to any other organisation including the Teachers Registration Board.

For example, if a teacher who applies for a WWCC has been charged with defrauding a school, the CAU would not be able to disclose this to the Board and the person would still be issued a WWCC as this charge does not relate to the person’s fitness to work with children. However, the Board does need this information as this is a matter of fitness and probity concerning their suitability to be a registered teacher, therefore, the Board conducts their own police check.

To find out further details on what the WWCC assesses, visit the DHS website here.

The Police Check helps the Board ensure that only fit and proper persons are, or continue to be, registered as teachers.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and other Australian Police Agencies will disclose to the Board, police history information that pertains to you from their own records including some spent convictions.

How far back does the check go?

The check considers all relevant offences across a person’s lifetime.

Some offences cannot be disclosed, depending on when they were committed.

How long is it valid?

A Working with Children Check is valid for five years unless suspended or cancelled.

Only current at the time of issue.

Are criminal records monitored?

Yes. Ongoing monitoring of WWCC holders and applicants is conducted which enables action to be taken to protect children and young people if the person is charged with a concerning offence, including the cancelling of a check.

No. A police check is a point of time check. A new police check will be needed to show any new offences.


A spent conviction is one that does not need to be ordinarily declared.

A pending charge is a charge that has not yet been decided by a court.

A non-conviction charge is a charge that has been finalised by a court but did not result in a conviction. For example, a charge: that has been withdrawn; that has been the subject of a nolle prosequi; a no true bill or a submission of no evidence to offer; that led to a conviction that was quashed on appeal; or upon which a person was acquitted or disposed of by a court otherwise than by way of conviction.