Author: Carly Godden
We were recently asked by a Place of Deposit (POD) whether the POD’s volunteers were required to get a Working With Children Check (WWCC). In our view, the WWCC was NOT required for volunteers at the POD in question. What follows is general advice based on that enquiry.
What is the test?
Under the Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic) (the Act), you need a WWCC if you meet ALL of the following conditions for child-related work:
1. You are an adult who ‘works’ with children aged under 18 years of age. The term ‘work’ includes engaging in voluntary work and providing practical training as well as paid employment.
2. You are working with children at or for one of the services, places or bodies, or in one of the activities listed in the Act.
3. Your work usually involves direct contact with children.
4. You are not exempt from having a WWCC under the Act.
How does it apply to PODs and historical societies?
The list of places, services and bodies includes ‘clubs, associations or movements (including of a cultural, recreational or sporting nature) that provide services or conduct activities for, or directed at, children or whose membership is mainly comprised of children’.
At a minimum, PODs must make access to their public records open to the public, and many PODs offer other public activities, services and events. Therefore there is a chance that volunteers may have direct contact with children at some point. However, the Act contains an important exclusion in that you do not need a WWCC if your work involves only occasional direct contact with a child that is incidental to your work.
As membership, services and the vast majority of activities of most PODs and historical societies are usually aimed at adults, any direct contact with children by volunteers will be ‘only occasional’ and ‘incidental’ to their work.
Child-safe practices and policies
While a WWCC may not be required for POD volunteers, as part of good governance we would encourage all PODs to adopt practices that help to protect visiting children, volunteers and the POD. This may include developing a child-safe policy or code.
Where can I find out more?
Visit the WWCC website here or call the WWCC helpline: 1300 652 879 (local call charge).
Keep in mind that, as every POD operates differently, if you remain unsure if your volunteers need the WWCC you should seek out advice specific to your circumstances.