Screening and police checks for volunteers
Many organisations choose to conduct screening and police checks of their volunteers as part of their risk management policy and recruitment processes.
A police check provides an Australia-wide summary of a person's criminal history. In South Australia, volunteers can apply for a National Police Certificate from South Australia Police or a National Criminal History Record Check from an accredited CrimTrac agency, such as the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion (DCSI) Screening Unit.
A screening check provides an assessment of a person's criminal conviction history and their suitability for a particular position with the organisation. There is no such assessment with a police check, which is simply a record of a person's criminal conviction history. The DCSI Screening Unit offers a range of screening check services for organisations whose volunteers work with vulnerable groups, such as children, older people or people with disability.
Volunteers working with vulnerable people
There are specific requirements under the Children's Protection Act 1993, the Aged Care Act 1997 and, since 1 July 2014, the Disability Services Act 1993 for screening volunteers working with vulnerable members of the community. Police checks can only be obtained with the informed consent of the individual concerned.
The South Australian government provides free police checks for organisations whose volunteers work with vulnerable people. To qualify, an organisation must apply for a Volunteer Organisation Authorisation Number (VOAN) from South Australia Police. If an organisation is not eligible for a VOAN, the volunteer may be entitled to a reduced fee. You can find out more about police checks by visiting the South Australia Police website.
Alternatively, the DCSI Screening Unit offers a range of screening services, which are available at a reduced rate for volunteers.
A flowchart has been developed to help organisations determine whether their volunteers are required to undergo a criminal history report or a DSCI screening check.
By providing clear criteria on when checks are required, the flow chart aims to make the assessment process easier and help reduce costs to community organisations.