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Department of Human Services

Legislative changes to child safe environments

On 1 July 2019, the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (PP Act) began and the remaining requirements of the Children’s Protection Act 1993 were repealed. The PP Act replaces all screening and assessment requirements to work and volunteer with children and young people in South Australia. The old requirements were replaced with a working with children check scheme.

The new, stronger laws for people working or volunteering with children were recommended as part of federal and South Australian royal commissions. They help keep children safe in our community.

What the new laws mean

  • only the South Australian Department of Human Services (DHS) Screening unit can do a working with children check (organisations can no longer do their own background screening of workers and volunteers)
  • some work-types that didn't require checks to work with children under the old laws now have to have a working with children check
  • individuals can do their own application for a new working with children check, which helps make people job-ready
  • new working with children checks are movable between roles and jobs across South Australia
  • the new working with children checks are valid for 5 years and are continuously monitored.

It is an offence to:

  • work or volunteer in a child-related role without a working with children check
  • work or volunteer in a child-related role if you're 'prohibited from working with children'
  • employ a person or volunteer for a child-related role who doesn’t have a valid working with children check, or is prohibited from working with children.

Offences carry fines of up to $120,000 and/or prison sentences.

There are a range of transitional periods for people who had a screening before 1 July 2019 to give them time to get a working with children check.

For more detailed information on who is required to have a working with children check, visit the Screening unit webpage.

Second phase of legislation

On 22 October 2018, the second phase of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 began.

This legislation made some changes to the child safe environments obligations for organisations that provide services to children and young people in South Australia. With the commencement of the PP Act, there have been changes to the types of organisations who are required to provide child safe environments. See child safe environments for the full list of these organisations.

Where an organisation is currently meeting their obligations they aren't required to do anything additional at this stage. Organisations are still required to have in place policies and procedures that create child safe environments and lodge a child safe environments compliance statement with the department.

Further changes

There will be further changes to the child safe environments obligations for organisations as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommendations are implemented. The Child safe environments program will keep you updated on upcoming changes.

The Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 was drafted to make keeping children and young people safe from harm a priority. It makes up part of the most significant reform of child protection laws in South Australia since 1993. For more information on the act, visit the Department for Child Protection’s website.

Contact

Child safe environments

Phone: 8463 6468
Email: DHS.childsafe@sa.gov.au

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Provided by:
SA Department for Human Services
URL:
https://dhs.sa.gov.au/services/community-and-family-services/child-safe-environments/legislative-changes-to-child-safe-environments
Last Updated:
05 Jul 2018
Printed on:
18 Nov 2019
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