Most community based learning centres have some programs for children, so most community centres require volunteers [and paid staff] to be cleared for working with children. Given the horrific tales of child abuse all over the media, I agree that vetting adults who work with children is a good idea. Unfortunately the implementation of that good idea is a bureaucratic nightmare.
Having just struggled with this nightmare myself, I thought a step-by-step walkthrough of the process might be useful to others. So here it is.
Step 1 Go to the Working with Children home page :
Step 2 Ignore the animated prompt to register and click on the big, blue ‘Apply for a check’ button on the right of the page :
Step 3 You should now be looking at a page full of information about who should apply, etc etc. Ignore all that, and scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will find some more big, blue buttons. Right at the very bottom you will see a slightly smaller, blue button called ‘Start Application’. Click it as shown :
Step 4 You should now be looking at another long page of information. Scroll down until you reach the bottom of that page. There you will find this :
The first text box asks if you’ve applied for a check before. Click on the small arrow next to the question and select either yes or no. I selected no.
The second text box is only for those who have applied for the check before and already have some documentation. For newbies like us, ignore.
The third text box requires that you choose between a check for an employee, or a volunteer. If you select ‘employee’ it is assumed that you will be paid for your work and/or that the employer will pay for your check. The fee for an employee check is $102. If you select ‘volunteer’ there is no fee, but you will not be able to work with children in a paid capacity.
To select either employee or volunteer, click the small arrow to the right of the text box and make your selection. To continue, click ‘Next’.
Step 5 At last, the contact details form. This should have been very straight forward, but it wasn’t. You start by filling in your current, residential address details. Then you get to the bit shown in red below :
This is for your postal address, and includes a little checkbox that you can click if your postal address is the same as your residential address. This is what happened when I clicked the checkbox and ‘Next’ :
The address details aren’t real, but you can see that they were carried over quite nicely to the postal address fields… except for the state. For some reason the application doesn’t recognize its own data.
The only way to get around this error is to uncheck the checkbox and manually type your postal details in again. Then hit ‘Next’ and everything is fine. -face palm-
Step 6 The next page asks for ‘Organisation details’:
The organisations in question are the companies for which you are volunteering. Now despite the fact that I am volunteering to work with adults, not children, I may be asked to do something with children in the future – e.g. take a class, or take over for 5 minutes while the assigned carer goes to the loo – so I need to have the checks in place ahead of time…
- click ‘yes’
- click the small arrow next to ‘Occupational Work Codes’ and select the option that best describes what you will be required to do with children.
Step 7 Then you click ‘Next’ and get this :
Luckily, this error is actually not a real error at all. What’s happened is that when you clicked ‘yes’ under Organisation details, the system did not allow you to specify the names of those organisations. This form is a kind of catch-up [and something you should have seen all along]. Click in each box and fill in the relevant details. Finally click ‘Add organisation to list’ as shown :
Step 8 If you need to add multiple organisations, click ‘Add another organisation’ as shown :
Step 9 Almost done. You should now be looking at a legal looking page. Right down the bottom you should see this :
- Click the small checkbox [small red circle] and then,
- Click on ‘Sign and Submit’
What this does is send a sort of electronic ‘intent to apply’. But…. YOU STILL HAVE TO SEND IN THE PAPER APPLICATION!
Step 10 The Confirmation page. This is actually rather important:
You now have to print off the form you have just filled in by clicking ‘Print or Save’. It will have a box for signing… BUT DO NOT SIGN IT! Take the unsigned form, along with a passport photo and suitable ID – e.g. passport, driver’s license, Medicare card etc – to an Australia Post office*. The Australia Post employee will then watch you sign the printed form [and date it]. They will then certify that the ID you have shown and your signature all match.
Then, they will take your application and do whatever it is they do with it. In return, you will receive a receipt to show that you have applied. However you will not, legally, be authorized to work with children until your application is accepted. Not sure how long the acceptance part will take but I’d guess at least two working weeks.
* You will not be able to find a list of ‘participating Australia Post offices‘ by clicking the link on the Confirmation page. That link only takes you to the main Australia Post page. Where you go from there I have no idea. I’d suggest ringing up one of the larger Australia Post offices instead.
And there, at last, you have it, how to navigate one of the worst interfaces I have ever had the misfortune to use. Good luck, and now I’m off for a much needed coffee.
p.s. My application is in! I went to the Australia Post office in Eltham and everything went smoothly.