Does a volunteer require a criminal history report or DCSI screening under legislation?
In February 2014, the South Australian Government launched the cross sector Volunteering Strategy for South Australia 2014-2020, in partnership with Volunteering SA&NT, Business SA and the Local Government Association.
It provides a practical `blue-print' for action over the next six years and has been developed to improve the experience of volunteers, enhance the outcomes for volunteer involving organisations, and help meet South Australia's Strategic Plan target to maintain a volunteer participation rate of 70% or better.
One of the focus areas of the strategy is to implement leading practice and high quality standards and, more specifically, to investigate the transferability of criminal history record checks across organisations and jurisdictions, and to develop simple guidelines on how they should be used.
In December 2014, the focus area released a discussion paper on the transferability of police checks and a new fact sheet was developed in response to legislative changes to the Disability Services Act 1993. Key findings from the report indicate that in addition to meeting legislative requirements, many organisations choose to adopt a policy to screen their volunteers as part of their risk management strategy.
Given the differing policy approaches by organisations and need to meet legislative requirements, there is understandably some confusion in the community in relation to conducting criminal history report or screening check.
Development of flow chart
To assist organisations to approach the task of determining which, if any, of their volunteers are required to undergo a criminal history report or screening check, the focus group has developed a flowchart "Does a volunteer require a criminal history report or DCSI screening under legislation?"
By making the assessment process easier through providing clear criteria on when checks are required, the flow chart aims to reduce the practice of over screening within organisations who may be implementing blanket 'screen one screen all' policies.
The document is not intended to prescribe policies or procedures; rather it is designed to ensure that organisations are aware of their legislative/regulatory obligations, and to provide a practical guide for implementing the criminal history report/screening process.
The focus group acknowledges the input into the development of the flow chart from:
- Department for Education and Child Development
- Department for Communities and Social Inclusion (Disability SA, Screening Unit)
- SA Health
- Department of Health (Commonwealth Government)
For your convenience, the flowchart has been broken down into the following four streams:
- Volunteering with children
- Volunteering with people with a disability
- Volunteering with aged care sector
- Checks for volunteers with no legislative or regulatory requirements
ACSA Report: Volunteering in Aged Care
Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) is a national peak body organisation supporting over 700 church, charitable and community-based not-for-profit organisations that provide accommodation and care services to older Australians.
“The aged and community care sector could not provide the wide range of services currently available without the significant contribution made by volunteers. There are five and a half million baby boomers in Australia and they make up a significant proportion of the current volunteer workforce” (Noone, J., 2012).
Will the baby boomers be attracted to volunteering and, if so, what type of roles will they choose to contribute their time? We do know that they will enjoy activities such as travel, social engagement and personal development. We also know that they will also be looking for ways in which they can contribute their skills in meaningful ways.
Aged & Community Services SA & NT first published the report The Future of Volunteering in Aged and Community Care in 2014.
Revised in 2017, this report explores the desires of baby boomers with a view to finding out if the traditional volunteer roles available in aged care will attract them and, if not, what changes need to be made to maximise their participation.
Insurance brokers for community groups
Local Community Insurance Services - LCIS is a specialist insurance provider established to manage the insurance needs of clubs and community groups within Australia.
GIO - GIO(SunCorp) is a leader in providing eligible Not For Profit Organisations with Public and Products Liability Insurance and is committed to the community.
NCOSS - NCOSS Community Cover is a bulk-buying insurance program brokered through Aon Risk Services with special features for not-for-profit and human services organisations.
Our Community - The Community Insurance & Risk Management Centre has been established to help Australian community groups get practical information, support and resources on risk management and to buy affordable insurance.
How does it feel to be a community mentor?The Community Mentoring program matches young people in schools with trained volunteers from the community. Community Mentoring works to assist students to make successful transitions at school and to achieve their potential. Simply by giving one hour a week during school terms can make a big difference.
Work Health Safety: What It Means for Volunteers
A new Work Health and Safety (WHS) flow chart has been released by the Volunteering Strategy for SA, Project Team Three.
The chart aims to assist volunteer associations, volunteers and people conducting a business who engage volunteers with understanding how WHS laws may apply to their volunteering activities.
Developed in partnership with SafeworkSA, Local Community Insurance Services and the Local Government Association Workers Compensation Scheme, the flow chart contains relevant information and links to guidance material to help ensure the health and safety of volunteers.
Working with Children Checks - Comparison Table
Volunteering Strategy for South Australia, Project Team Three has compiled a table giving a national snapshot of the level of checking used by states and territories to process Working with Children Checks (WWCCs).
The comparison table (425 KB) is the result of the increased national focus towards a consistent approach to WWCCs and shows the different, as well as the common sources of information each state and territory draws upon in determining whether to approve a WWCC.
While WWCCs are undertaken in some form in all states and territories in Australia, each of the eight states and territories has established its own independent process for issuing WWCCs.
Importantly, however, each one has two common base elements: Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) (formerly CrimTrac) National Criminal History Check (NCHRC), and the expanded criminal history check through the National Exchange of Criminal History Exchange.
The comparison table was developed in consultation with all state and territory departments responsible for conducting WWCCs.
Youth Volunteering in Australia
A report to the National Youth Affairs Research Scheme in 2015 by the Associate Professor Luas Walsh and Dr Rosalyn Black (Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth).
Download the report here (3.64Mb)
The Department for Communities and Social Inclusion has developed an easy to use, interactive, free, online, self-paced development program which guides community organisations towards sustainability and success – it is called STARservice!
STARservice is for small community organisations who want to attract grant funding and improve their practices but are not required to undertake a quality accreditation program.
Organisations register online and complete 18 interactive questions, which once verified, gives them STARservice status.
It doesn't matter if an organisation can't answer 'Yes' to every question the first, second or even the third time. The STARservice process is all about continuous improvement and identifying areas that need work and then planning to take positive actions. By answering 'No' additional resources and links become available so organisations can address the criteria and gradually improve in order to complete the online process.
The benefits for organisations to complete the STARservice Development Program are:
- developing better practices such as work, health and safety (WHS), risk and financial management
- becoming well positioned to attract funding and support
- developing policies and procedures
- having qualified and motivated employees and volunteers
- providing a safe, positive and welcoming environment
- well on their way to achieving the Australian Service Excellence Standards
Register today by visiting https://www.starservice.sa.gov.au/
Screening and police checks
Choosing the right person for a volunteer role is an important responsibility, with many organisations conducting screening and police checks as part of their volunteer recruitment processes.
It can also be a requirement under legislation for volunteers working with vulnerable groups, such as:
- the elderly
- people with disability.
Depending on the roles they are performing, volunteers may require either a police check or screening check.
The Office for Volunteers has compiled a fact sheet about screening and police checks, including the requirements under legislation for South Australian volunteer organisations.
To access the screening and police checks fact sheet visit Screening-and-police-checks-for-volunteers
Volunteering Strategy for South Australia 2014-2020
Find out more by visiting the Volunteer Strategy for South Australia website.