Many health and community service employees need them

A police check is a record, at a given point in time, of offences a person has committed and been convicted. Organisations request this information to help them assess a person’s suitability for work. Members who work with children may also require registration with state justice authorities. Your employer will advise if this is required.

A police check can include sensitive private information so members often ask who ‘owns’ the document. The simple answer is it belongs to whoever paid the application fee and/or other fees. If you paid, it’s yours. If your employer paid, the document belongs to your employer.

A ‘spent conviction’ is a conviction that’s no longer recorded, so won’t be included on your police check. It applies to convictions where a waiting period has passed and an individual hasn’t re-offended. The following conditions apply to convictions for a Commonwealth, Territory, State or foreign offence: It’s been 10 years from the date of the conviction (5 years for juvenile offenders); The individual was sentenced to imprisonment of less than 30 months; The individual hasn’t re-offended during the 10-year (5 years for juvenile offenders) waiting period; A statutory or regulatory exclusion does not apply.

Spent convictions also include convictions set aside or pardoned under the Crimes Act 1914. An individual whose conviction is protected does not have to disclose the conviction to any person, including a Commonwealth authority, but there are some exceptions which require you to disclose a spent or protected conviction, and the Crimes Act 1914 includes specific exclusions for some positions of employment.

‍The Attorney-General has also granted exclusions from the scheme for several categories of employment. This means people applying for such positions must declare all convictions, or any convictions for specific offences, as required for that specific position. Details of exclusions should be provided to you by your employer before your consent is sought to obtain a criminal history check. Many HACSU Members are employed in areas where ALL convictions - including spent, set aside and pardoned - must be reported.

If you believe the information provided on your police check is incorrect or inaccurate in any form you can apply to dispute it. Additional info or documents supporting your enquiry may be required to enable a more accurate assessment of your application. In all instances the applicant will be advised as to any additional information that may be required.

The Privacy Commissioner is responsible for ensuring the protection of private information relating to individuals and this includes investigating instances where information has been released improperly or incorrectly. An individual who believes standards dealing with disclosure and use of old conviction information have been breached may apply to the Privacy Commissioner for an investigation of the matter. More info on the correct handling of your personal information is available online from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner at www.oiac.gov.au.

If you have a query or issue relating to a police check or registration to work with children, contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email [email protected].

Remember, HACSUassist offers support and guidance for HACSU members and all calls are confidential.