What is a police check?

A police check is a National Coordinated Criminal History search and involves identifying and releasing any relevant Australian Federal Police (AFP) information subject to relevant spent convictions, non-disclosure legislation and information release policies. This check can only be undertaken with the informed consent of the person being checked.

The process involves:

  • searching a central index containing the names of persons of
    interest to police;
  • referring possible match(es) to the relevant police services for
    evaluation of their records; and
  • issuing a National Coordinated Criminal History Check report
Why Should I Care If a Company Does/Doesn’t Conduct a Criminal History Check?

Criminal history checks serve to protect an organisation’s employees, productivity, performance, resources, clients, culture and reputation. By carrying out these checks, an Organisation is showing due diligence and care. It exemplifies that the company values their reputation, team culture and clients. When a criminal history check is included in a company’s pre-employment screening, you can feel assured that safety is a top priority at your potential workplace.

What Does a National Coordinated Criminal History Check Contain?

A National Coordinated Criminal History Check contains a summary of a person’s history information in Australia. This includes all findings of guilt unless spent. Whether a finding is spent will depend on state and federal legislation, but generally, a spent finding is a criminal offence older than 5 years if convicted as a child, or an offence older than 10 years in any other case.

When Does a National Coordinated Criminal History Check Expire?

This Certificate is current as of the date of issue. As it is a point in time check, there is no associated validity period. It is at the employer’s discretion to regulate what period of time a check is valid.

How Long Does It Take to Get My Results Back?

In 70% of cases, the National Police Certificate will be received within 1 hour after submitting the application. On some occasions though, the check may take up to 10 business days to be returned. If this happens, it may be because the application has been flagged for further review if it has been matched against somebody on the database with a similar name, gender and/or date of birth. When this occurs, there is a review process that is undertaken where each of Australia’s police agencies are consulted to resolve the match. Your Application can only be processed once you have submitted all of your valid documents (signed Informed Consent Form and four identity documents).

Is a Police Check the Same as a Working with Children Check?

No, the Working With Children (WWC) Check and a Police Check are different certificates.

Is There a Minimum Age to Require a Criminal History Check?

You must be over 16 years of age to order a National Coordinated Criminal History Check. However, anyone under the age of 18 years must have the consent of a parent, guardian or legal representative.

Can I Check Someone Else’s Criminal Record?

Other than checks for police investigation/prosecution purposes, no one is permitted to check another person’s police record without their consent.

What Documents Do I Need to Prepare When Ordering a Check?
  • Signed Informed Consent
  • Four identity documents

ACIC provide three categories of identity documents and a list of the documents acceptable under each category. We are required to sight at least:

  • one commencement of identity document
  • one primary use in the community document
  • two secondary use in the community documents.

The Agreement advises, at Clause 11.5 (b), that we can sight identity documents:

  • locally, by sighting an original presented by the applicant in-person
  • remotely, by sighting a copy of each document submitted by the applicant through the post or by email.

Local sighting is face-to-face with an original document and the corresponding applicant. Remote sighting is digital/electronic and may include:

  • email
  • webcam
  • skype(facetime)
  • video conference
  • uploaded documents on online forms

Commencement of identity documents

(a) full Australian birth certificate (not an extract or birth card)

(b) current Australian passport (not expired)

(c) Australian visa current at time of entry to Australia as a resident or tourist

(d) ImmiCard issued by Immigration and Border Protection that enables the cardholder to prove their visa and/or migration status and enroll in services

(e) certificate of identity issued by Foreign Affairs and Trade to refugees and non-Australian citizens for entry to Australia

(f) document of identity issued by Foreign Affairs and Trade to Australian citizens or persons who have the nationality of a Commonwealth country for travel purposes

(g) certificate of evidence of resident status.

Primary use in the community document

(a) current Australian drivers licence, learner permit or provisional licence issued by a state or territory, showing a signature and/or photo and the same name as claimed

(b) Australian marriage certificate issued by a state or territory (church or celebrant-issued certificates are not accepted)

(c) current passport issued by a country other than Australia with a valid entry stamp or visa

(d) current proof of age or photo identity card issued by an Australian Government agency in the name of the applicant, with a signature and photo

(e) current shooters or firearms licence showing a signature and photo (not minor or junior permit or licence)

(f) for persons under 18 years of age with no other Primary Use in Community Documents, a current student identification card with a signature or photo.

Secondary use in the community documents

(a) certificate of identity issued by Foreign Affairs and Trade

(b) document of identity issued by Foreign Affairs and Trade

(c) convention travel document secondary (United Nations) issued by Foreign Affairs and Trade

(d) foreign government issued documents (for example, drivers licence)

(e) Medicare card

(f) enrolment with the Australian Electoral Commission

(g) security guard or crowd control photo licence

(h) evidence of right to an Australian government benefit (Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs)

(i) consular photo identity card issued by Foreign Affairs and Trade

(j) photo identity card issued to an officer by a police force

(k) photo identity card issued by the Australian Defence Force

(l) photo identity card issued by the Australian Government or a state or territory government

(m) Aviation Security Identification Card

(n) Maritime Security Identification card

(o) credit reference check

(p) Australian tertiary student photo identity document

(q) Australian secondary student photo identity document

(r) certified academic transcript from an Australian university

(s) trusted referees report

(t) bank card

(u) credit card.

What Rights Do I Have When a Criminal History Check is Being Conducted?

No one is permitted to check another person’s police record without that person’s consent. Individuals have the right to privacy and freedom from discrimination. The relevant legislation is Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities 2006, Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014: Organisations, Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) and the Australian Human Rights Commission Regulations 1989 (Cth).

What Should I Do Once I Have the Results?

If you have a criminal record, you are legally obligated to let your potential employer know. However, your employer should give you the opportunity to address your criminal record and explain the circumstances surrounding any convictions. Each case should be decided in its individual context in relation to the position, the organisation’s policies and any applicable anti-discrimination guidelines. Factors that you and your employer may consider include:

  • Your age at the time of the offence
  • How recent the offence occurred
  • Whether there is a pattern of reoffending
  • The seriousness of the offence and its relationship to the specific job
  • The sentence imposed by the courts
  • Evidence of rehabilitation including subsequent work experience and character references.
What do I do if I want to dispute the results of my criminal history check?

If you believe the results on your police check to be incorrect, and you would like to raise a dispute claim, you can complete an online dispute form to start the dispute process.  It is important to note that disputes can only be raised for one of the following reasons:

– The police information released does not belong to you;
– Part of the police information does not belong to you;
– The police information belongs to the you, but the details are inaccurate;
– The police information belongs to you, but should not have been released.

There is no set turn around time for disputes to be resolved, however we will confirm receipt of the dispute within 72 business hours of your request and provide updates as they become available.

HR Advice from Fiona Crawford

Whether you’ve been asked for the first time to complete a police check, or you’ve done it a thousand times, the delicacies surrounding them can be confusing.

We asked Olympic medallist and HR Director of the Year Finalist Fiona Crawford some frequently asked questions, so that you can gain a greater understanding of the importance of police checks and why businesses should be conducting them.


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