Vulnerable children will be better protected under new laws requiring kinship carers to have a Working with Children Check as part of a mandatory assessment process.
From May 1 2017, new kinship carers approved by child protection will be required to apply for a check within 21 days of a child being placed in their care.
The changes to the Working with Children Act 2005 are in line with a recommendation from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to provide greater oversight and protection of children.
Approved kinship carers who already have a child placed with them by child protection will also need to apply for a check before 22 August, 2017.
A Working with Children Check screens a person’s criminal record and any reports about professional conduct by relevant bodies. It’s an important safeguard, while people who pass the check continue to be monitored in the event they are subject to new charges.
The change to include kinship carers is one of a number of amendments to the Working with Children Check, which also includes an expansion of the definition of ‘direct contact’ with children, and the removal of references to ‘supervision’ so that people who are supervised in their contact with children still need to apply for a Check.
Kinship care is the preferred placement type for children in out-of-home care in Victoria and is considered to provide greater stability of care, preserve the family, promote cultural identity, keep siblings together and reduce separation trauma.
As at 30 June 2016, there were 9,705 children in out-of-home care, of which 5,472 children were placed in kinship care.
The Andrews Labor Government is improving services for kinship carers and has allocated a $19.2 million funding boost to improve supports for kinship, permanent and foster carers.
From 1 August 2017, additional changes will come into effect to further strengthen Working with Children Checks and make the application process more rigorous. Anyone participating in child-related work, such as volunteering at sporting events for children, will be required to obtain a check whether contact with children is supervised or not.
An applicant will also be required to produce further information if they are suspected of breaching the Working with Children Act 2005, such as engaging in child-related work without a current WWC Check.
For more information about the changes, people are encouraged to visit
Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos
“This is a big change in the requirements for kinship carers, but one that will provide greater oversight and safety for our most vulnerable children.”
“This is another vital step in ensuring kinship carers are providing a safe and stable environment for children in out-of-home care.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020