report

Working with Children Checks – Follow-Up

Recommendations

The Department of Communities should:

  1. improve the analysis and reporting of WWC Check applications, renewals and offending data, and use available controls to mitigate the inherent risk of working while a WWC Check application is assessed.

Communities response:

    • Communities supports this recommendation.
    • Communities has already commenced a review of the screening process and identified potential areas to reduce the timeframes even further.
    • Communities will also review its risk-based approach and prioritisation of assessments; and identify and document information and intelligence sources that inform risks for screening and assessing WWC applications.

Implementation timeframe: by June 2020

  1. review criteria used to determine whether an interim negative notice is issued, to ensure they align with the core principle of the Act that the best interests of children are the paramount consideration.

Communities response:

    • Communities supports this recommendation.
    • Communities monitors potential risk arising from people who work with children whilst their application is pending, and issues interim negative notices as a matter of urgency when an unacceptable risk to children is indicated.
    • The best interests of children is and always will be paramount, and the application of this principle is integral to the administration of the Act. Communities welcomes the opportunity to strengthen the application of this principle even further.
    • As a priority, Communities is reviewing the criteria for issuing interim negative notices, to ensure alignment with the principles of the Act and to minimise the risk to children.

Implementation timeframe: by December 201

  1. establish a proactive, risk-based monitoring and enforcement approach that ensures all employers, employees, self-employed and volunteers in child-related work comply with the requirements of the Act. This could include greater use of existing powers to require periodic confirmation of compliance with the Act from organisations who employ people in child-related work.

Communities response:

    • Communities supports this recommendation.
    • Communities acknowledges that the WWC compliance and enforcement regime needs to be more proactive and risk-based.
    • Work has already commenced to develop a targeted and risk-based monitoring, compliance and enforcement approach, that uses relevant data sources and powers to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Act.
    • This work will identify and use intelligence sources to determine the areas of child-related work that present the greatest risk and target compliance monitoring activities towards these.
    • Communities will also increase the effective use of its powers under the Act, to expand its compliance monitoring activities.

Implementation timeframe: by June 2020

  1. identify all Department of Communities positions (including employees, foster carers and contractors) that require a WWC Check, ensure individuals have valid WWC Cards and regularly report the level of compliance to executive management.

Communities response:

    • Communities supports this recommendation.
    • Since the conclusion of the audit, Communities has taken prompt action to ensure all Communities related positions that require a WWC Check, have a valid WWC Card.
    • Where Communities employees require a WWC Card, the currency of the WWC Card is monitored and action is taken to ensure employees do not continue to work in child-related work without a valid WWC Card.
    • Current reporting on the levels of compliance with the WWC requirements will be enhanced to ensure the escalation of matters of concern to senior management.

Implementation timeframe: by December 2019

  1. document current WWC Check business practices and maintain written policies and procedures.

Communities response:

    • Communities supports this recommendation.
    • Communities has and will continue to improve and adapt WWC Check business practices, to minimise risk to children and enhance services that protect children.
    • Communities will review its current written policies and procedures to ensure these are up-to-date and implement a schedule of review to ensure their ongoing currency.

Implementation timeframe: by June 2020

The Department of Communities and the Western Australia Police Force should:

  1. review information sharing arrangements and look for opportunities to improve the overall effectiveness of the WWC scheme.

Communities response:

    • Communities accepts the recommendation to review information sharing arrangements with the WA Police Force. A review of that kind will necessarily consider legislative, contractual and privacy implications.
    • Communities remains in regular contact with the WA Police Force and actively works to improve the sharing of information to increase protections for children.

WA Police Force response:

    • The WA Police Force accepts this recommendation and its implementation timeframe.
    • The WA Police Force looks forward to developing greater work relations with the Department of Communities to improve information sharing arrangements and the overall effectiveness of the WWC scheme.

Implementation timeframe: by June 2020

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