Proposed changes to Working with Children legislation

Proposed amendments to the Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004.

This message is from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Implementation Team – Working with Children – Department of Communities.

The Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Amendment Bill 2022 (the Bill) was introduced into the Legislative Assembly of the Western Australian (WA) Parliament, on 17 August 2022.

The Bill, if passed, will address certain key recommendations of the Working with Children Checks Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and other high priority matters. The reforms are aimed to strengthen protections for children in WA, from harm from people who work with them.

Key changes to the Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 (the Act) proposed by the Bill include:

  • Expansion of the number and type of Class 1 criminal offences, convictions for which result in an automatic Negative Notice, if committed when an adult.
  • A new requirement that a pending charge for a Class 1 offence also results in an automatic Negative Notice, if allegedly committed when an adult.
  • Expansion of the number and type of Class 2 criminal offences, pending charges or convictions for which result in a Negative Notice unless there are exceptional circumstances.
  • New capacity for an assessment or reassessment to be triggered by a notification to the CEO from prescribed conduct review authorities, of prescribed conduct review findings or outcomes.
  • Capacity for an Interim Negative Notice to be issued if the CEO is of the opinion that there is a reasonable likelihood that a Negative Notice will be issued, and independently of a proposal to issue a Negative Notice.
  • Provisions to support online applications, online verification of a person’s employment or proposed employment in child-related work, and electronic service of notices.
  • Contemporary new provisions for monitoring and investigating compliance with the Act.
  • A new provision requiring Working with Children (WWC) Cardholders and applicants to notify the CEO of changes in personal details and ceasing and commencing child-related work.
  • Provisions enabling future regulations to be made preventing particular classes of persons accessing certain exemptions from child-related work.
  • Strengthening and clarifying the provisions for information gathering and sharing to further the Act’s child protective purposes.
  • Changing the name of the Act to accurately reflect the screening role beyond criminal records.

The Bill includes transitional arrangements so that after commencement of the amendments, people who have a WWC Card or a pending application for one on commencement day (and are issued a WWC Card after commencement day), will remain subject to the old offence categorisations in perpetuity, until they either:

  • are newly charged with or convicted of a Class 1 or Class 2 offence on or after commencement day, or
  • fail to apply for a further WWC Card, prior to expiry of their current Card, at any time in the future.

The proposed transitional arrangements extend to persons with a Negative Notice issued before commencement day or issued on or after commencement day if the person was otherwise covered by the transitional arrangements, until they exhaust their review and appeal rights.

Information & Resources

The Bill, its Second Reading Speech and Explanatory Memorandum, and a marked-up version of the Act which shows the Bill’s proposed changes, may be viewed on the WA Parliament website via the following link: Progress of Bills (parliament.wa.gov.au).

The following additional resources are available on the Working with Children Check website:
1. Overview of the Working with Children Amendment Bill 2022; and
2. Frequently Asked Questions: Working with Children Amendment Bill 2022.

The Minister for Child Protection, the Hon Simone McGurk MLA, released a Media Statement in relation to the Bill which may be accessed at: Media statements – Landmark changes to strengthen working with children law.

If you have any questions in relation to the Bill, please email WWCReforms@communities.wa.gov.au.