Screening Services FAQs

Why have the screening requirements changed?

The Government of South Australia has introduced stronger, more effective, and transparent screening laws for people working or volunteering with children. The new laws mean that, from 1 July 2019, everyone working or volunteering with children must have a valid .Working with Children Check (WWCC)

These changes were recommended as part of South Australian and federal royal commissions, to help keep children safe in our communities. The Uniting Church (SA) Duty of Care Policy acknowledges and affirms the need to keep all in our communities safe and hence additional checks may be required alongside a WWCC. 

FAQ 01 Who is required to undergo a Working with Children Check (WWCC)?

In accordance with the Duty of Care Policy, all appointed leaders require a WWCC.

In addition to the WWCC, the following voluntary roles of responsibility will need a ‘General Probity Check

  • Office holders and members of church council
  • Anyone managing financial responsibilities
  • Driving a vehicle for a church sanctioned activity
  • Working in a Uniting Church Op Shop or café

In addition to the WWCC, Volunteers who provide any of the following on behalf of their congregation will need a Vulnerable Person Related Employment check.

  • Being a Designated Pastoral Visitor from a Church.
  • Lead or assist with worship services in Aged Care facilities or Hospitals
  • Working with Refugees, migrants
  • Offering social support services (e.g. counselling/ financial support/ soup kitchen)

All Ministry Agents as defined in the Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice and who are deemed to be ‘in active service’ will require:

  • Working With Children’s Check
  • General Employment Probity Check
  • Vulnerable Person Related Employment Check

Ministers who are retired and not deemed to be ‘in active service’, and Ministers ‘on designated leave of absence’ do not require a General Employment Probity or Vulnerable Person Related Employment Check.

Ministry Agents only need a Disability Check if employed by a Government funded disability organisation.

Ministry Agents only need an Aged Care Check if employed by a Commonwealth Funded Aged Care facility. (Commonwealth Aged Care Act 1997 and Aged Care Accountability Principles 2014)

Employees within Uniting Church Presbyteries and Congregations require:

  • Working With Children Check
  • General Probity Check.
  • A Vulnerable Person Related Employment Check will be required, if any responsibilities include a role as listed above (#3)

Employees of the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of South Australia, require upon employment a General Probity Check. This is then to be renewed as required.

  • If the employee’s role is deemed to fulfil the definition of Child Related Work*, then a Working with Children Check will be required.
  • If the employee’s role is deemed not to fulfil the definition of Child Related Work but the staff member is an Appointed Leader within a congregation, the WWCC is then submitted as a volunteer.
  • If the employee’s role includes any responsibilities as listed in 3 above, then a Vulnerable Person Related Employment Check will be required.
  • If the employee’s role does not includes any responsibilities as listed in 3 above but the staff member is an Appointed Leader within a congregation, the Vulnerable Person Related check is then submitted as a volunteer.

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FAQ 02 What is a Working with Children Check (WWCC?)

A Working with Children Check (WWCC) is a part of a screening process that is currently electronically initiated by an individual to the UC Screening Services Unit via the Safe Church website link under the auspices of the Uniting Church in Australia SA Synod.

The check itself is carried out by the Department of Human Services (DHS) Screening Unit and involves the gathering and assessing of national criminal history as well as information held by the SA Government relating to child protection issues or other care concerns raised with them.    

Holding a WWCC doesn’t automatically entitle you into a leadership role within the church as there are other factors of gifts and skills to consider before a role is commenced.

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FAQ 03 What is a General Employment Probity check?

General employment probity checks help employers decide if an individual will be a suitable employee or volunteer. These checks are role-specific/organisation - specific and valid for three years but do not include a copy of the individual’s criminal conviction history that is assessed. (see Duty of Care Policy for do I need one?)

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FAQ 04 What is a Vulnerable Persons Related Employment check?

Vulnerable person-related employment checks assess whether a potential employee or volunteer could pose a risk to the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable people. These checks are valid for three years and are continuously monitored. (see Duty of Care Policy for do I need one? )

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FAQ 05 Is a Working with Children Check different from a police check?

Yes. A police check is a point-in-time summary of your Australian criminal history and includes national convictions and certain types of spent convictions. A Working with Children Check is more detailed. It includes:

  • national convictions – withdrawn, spent, non-convictions
  • national charges – pending, withdrawn, dismissed, acquitted
  • information from South Australian government agencies related to care concerns and investigations

Five years is a long time to be 'not prohibited' from working with children. What if someone gets a check then does something wrong?

Although Working with Children Checks are valid for five years, the DHS Screening Unit continuously monitors them. If new information about a person means they pose a risk to children's safety, that person’s check will be re-assessed and, if necessary, they will be prohibited from working with children. The DHS Screening Unit will inform both the person affected and any organisations they're linked to about the change in status.

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FAQ 06 Why do I need a WWCC if I don’t work in the crèche or have contact with children in my church role?

Under the interpretation of the Child Safe (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016, when considering the definition of Child related work 6(1)(b) services or activities provided by religious organisations all those in roles of responsibility (including appointed leaders/helpers) are required to have a WWCC.

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FAQ 07 How long does it take to get a check?

Most screening applications are finalised within three weeks. It can take longer if there is a lot of background information to assess or the information is complex. The DHS Screening Unit recommends allowing at least six weeks to process an application. Find out more about the check process.

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FAQ 08 I already have a current check, do I have to get a new one?

It depends on the sort of check you have.

You can use your current, valid DHS/DCSI child-related employment screening until it expires. When it is time to renew, you must apply for a Working with Children Check (anytime in the six months before your current WWCC expires).

If you have a National Police Certificate assessed by your organisation and use it to work or volunteer with children, you have until 1 July 2020 to get a Working with Children Check. 

All previous Screening and Authority checks from the Uniting Church (done before 1 July 2019) are null and void from 1 July 2020

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FAQ 09 I have a WWCC through another organisation. Do I need to do another one for the Uniting Church?

If you have an existing WWCC you will need to register it with the Uniting Church so it can be add to our DHS register.   This will allow the church to have a centralised record and enable any notifications regarding a WWCC to be updated. (see: What if I already have a WWCC but not through the Uniting Church?)

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FAQ 10 I'm under 18 and a junior leader/helper. Do I need a screening too?

The minimum age for a Screening request for a WWCC (or any of the other screening types) is 14.  You can complete your screening online but will need to print your application for a legal caregiver to sign consent.  Your Identity also needs to be verified with this form and then forwarded to DHS direct.

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FAQ 11 What if I don't have computer or internet access

Please contact your Safe Church Congregation Liaison as they will be given tools to assist you. See Assistance information for Safe Church Congregation Liaisons.

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FAQ 12 Do I have to pay anything

Maybe depending on your role within the Church:

  • Yes - Employee/contractor - (including Ministry Agents) an organisation’s permanent, temporary and casual staff, plus any external contractors/subcontractors working for the organisation.

Employees/contractors must pay the fee for each type of check needed.

  • No - Students - A registered tertiary pupil on a placement that is officially related to their studies. Secondary students on short placements related to their study may use a volunteer check.

Yes but only 1 amount - Tertiary students on placements connected to their study pay a single fee no matter how many checks are needed, as long as the applications are submitted at the same time.

  • No - Volunteer - An individual who is officially performing tasks for the organisation requesting the check, without receiving a monetary reward or other remuneration. Volunteers pay no fees, no matter how many checks are needed.

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FAQ 13 What if my last Uniting Church screening hasn’t expired yet?

Working with Children Checks are mandatory - you need to get one. If you have previously completed a Screening and Authority Request through the Uniting Church SA before 1 July 2019 you will need to apply for a new screening. The transitional period for existing checks expires on June 30, 2020. 

  • If you are in a leadership role with children, youth or young people you are requested to apply for your Screening Checks immediately.

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FAQ 14 Which email address should I use in my application?

You should use an active email where you are comfortable having confidential communications sent.

This is ideally an email that only you have access to. If you are unable to access an email account, please contact your Safe Church Congregation Liaison for assistance. See Assistance information for Safe Church Congregation Liaisons

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FAQ 15 What do I need to prove my Identity?

The online application provides two options to verify your identity. The quickest is using the online verification tool. You will need a current Australian Drivers licence and Australian Passport (current or not expired by more than two years)

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FAQ 16 What if I don’t have an Australian driver’s licence, Australian passport?

If you do not have an Australian driver’s licence AND a current Australian passport please contact your Safe Church Congregational Liaison for assistance to complete your verification of identity with a 100 point check. See 100 Point Identity Verification Form

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FAQ 17 I’m under 18 – why can’t I verify my ID online?

DHS requires the completed application form to be printed and consent signed by your legal caregiver and your identity to be confirmed.

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FAQ 18 I've logged into the DHS website - now what?

You will have received a link in your email to create your login. After this, log on and click on the application number (See Information on the Screening and Authority Process - UCA v2)

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FAQ 19 I've completed 'Step 1' but not received anything?

The first request via ‘Step 1’ is to the Uniting Church Screening Services.  This is then processed during normal business hours which then generates an email from the Department for Human Services.  The email address will be from ‘noreply @’   Sometimes this could disappear into your spam / junk mail folder.   If you haven’t received the email from DHS within a couple of days– please contact the Synod Screening"> with your name to request a new activation email can be resent.

Please do not submit another “Step 1” request, to generate the same screening request.

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FAQ 20 How long will this form take me?

The average time is estimated at 30 minutes if you have all of your details at hand.  If you need to stop (or lose your internet connection) before completing the DHS form, the fields you’ve previously entered will be saved (with the exception of your identity document numbers).

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FAQ 21 What's a reference number? (as requested on the DHS online application)

When completing the online form, this field may be left blank and is not required.  Once you commence an application you are given an AP###### number and then in turn a reference number and SRN####-####.  It is this last number that is relevant to quote when an organisation is requesting evidence of your WWCC.

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FAQ 22 How long before I get a response from the first application to the Uniting Church?

The Screening Services Unit must initiate the request with the DHS upon which you will receive an email from the DHS to begin the verification of your identity. Screening Services only process applications during business hours.

After you submit your information to the DHS, they will then send an email to you and the Uniting Church when your Screening is at the ‘Record review and evaluation’ stage and/or when you have been cleared.

Please note that the DHS has advised of possible processing time of six weeks, though you may receive your check in a more timely manner.

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FAQ 23 I drive people to a from church activities: do I need to complete this process?

If you are transporting on behalf of the church (rostered or requested by a church leader) then you will need to complete this Screening process for both WWCC and General Probity.

If you have a private arrangement with another person, then this is not a church-related transport task and does not require a Screening Check. However, if you are a volunteer in other roles, you are still required to complete the relevant screening checks.

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FAQ 24 What do I do with my form and/or number when I get it back?

Please file your email in a safe place and also forward a copy /take your email to your Safe Church Congregation Liaison who will record it with the Church Council.

For non-Congregational placements, please forward to your designated governing body.  A WWCC is transferable and you will need to quote the SRN ####-#### along with your full name and D.O.B. with any other organisation for which requires you to have this information on record.  

NB: if you sourced your WWCC via another organisation, the Uniting Church Synod of SA still need to record this on our DHS register (see: What if I already have a WWCC but not through the Uniting Church?)

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FAQ 25 Why is this online only

This is a decision of the SA Government. According to the Digital Transformation Strategy of the Australian Government: “Being a world-leading digital government means changing how we do things for you. In the future we will use digital technology to deliver more responsive policy, less red tape and better services.” All federal government services will be digitised by 2025.

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FAQ 26 Why do I have to go through the Uniting Church to request this check?

Submitting your request through us as an organisation, automatically includes you in register and the church’s database. It means when the Uniting Church Synod of SA has to do an audit of a congregation or for an event that information is on hand to cross check. 

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FAQ 27 What if I already have a WWCC but not through the Uniting Church?

If you already have a WWCC sourced through another organisation or DHS direct, the Uniting Church Synod of SA still need to register you in our database. To do this please complete Step 1 and provide the SRN number and date of the check in the relevant question. If you need to request one of the other checks, proceed with the form or else just submit.

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FAQ 28 How do I pay if I don't have a credit car or do internet banking?

If you are a volunteer in the church and not receiving income for working with children elsewhere, then you do not need to pay anything.

If you do not have a credit card, then a pre-paid credit card (e.g. Australia Post have them) can be used for this transaction.  You simply pre load an amount of money onto the card before the transaction is done.

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FAQ 29 I’m a school teacher/childcare worker but volunteer at church. Do I apply for my WWCC through Uniting Church or?

If you work with children as part of your paid employment, you will already have a Working with Children Check.  You will not need a second check as a volunteer at church. The UCA will need to have it on record:  See What if I already have a WWCC but not through the Uniting Church?

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FAQ 30 Is it an offence not to get a WWCC?

If you do not get a Working with Children Check that is suitable for your volunteer or paid employment, this is an offence. You can be fined up to $5,000.

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FAQ 31 What is illegal when it comes to Working with children?

It is an offence to:

  • work or volunteer in a child-related role without a Working with Children Check
  • work or volunteer in a child-related role if a person is 'prohibited from working with children'
  • employ a person or volunteer for a child-related role who doesn’t have a valid Working with Children Check, or is prohibited from working with children.

Offences carry fines of up to $120,000 and/or prison sentence.

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