Why do Australian charities need to perform Police Checks?

Posted by National Crime Check on 2021-04-16

Unquestionably, charities and non-profits are run by amazing people, achieving extraordinary things. At NCC, our team has the pleasure of working with charities like the St Vincent de Paul Society and have seen the outcomes that volunteers can have on those who need our help. 

We can not say enough about the volunteers who commit their time and lives to the people who need our help. We also take our hats off to the volunteers that work with Australian wildlife and pets in need, with many remarkable rescue stories.

However, there can be no doubt, that every Australian charity must be vigilant when onboarding volunteers, especially if your volunteers work with vulnerable people such as children, the elderly, people with disabilities or those with financial hardships. After all, an entire charity's reputation can be put at risk with just one unsuitable volunteer.

How many charities are there in Australia? 

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission is Australia's national charity regulator known as the ACNC. The ACNC regulates approx. 59,000 charities and is also responsible for investigating charities and volunteers.  Volunteering Australia also works with charities of all kinds, and if your charity has any internal challenges that you need help with, this is a great place to start.

One thing that both the ACNC and Volunteering Australia promote is background checks for all volunteers. So today we're going to look at the checks your charity should consider performing - and how the NCC team helps charities like the St Vincent de Paul Society right now. 

How do you perform Police Checks on volunteers?

Criminal background checks are often referred to as a 'Police Checks', and today with intelligent technology, you don't need a dedicated team to perform Police checks. Today, Police Checks are effortless. For example, all of our NCC Police Checks are 100% online and volunteers simply need a webcam, mobile phone or tablet. Our Police Checks usually only take 24 hours to perform, so you don’t have to wait days or weeks to onboard a volunteer either. 

Please feel free to learn more about our Police Checks here: NCC Police Check

Once a police check has been requested, a volunteer's identity will be checked against Australia criminal records, across all Australian states. While you can perform a police check on a per-state basis, it is of course not recommended. More often than not, a person with a criminal background will be inclined to relocate.  

Convictions will be highlighted by your NCC police check, including less serious offences within the timeframe. For less serious offences - ten years is the longest the conviction can be held in most states. Expired convictions are described as annulled or spent convictions. The team at NCC can guide you further once you start the Police Check process.

What else should you know about Police Checks?

Requesting that all volunteers perform a Police Check, is in itself, a great way to filter the right people. If someone refuses to perform a Police Check, you are in a position to make a more informed decision. Likewise, it opens up the conversation for people with troubled pasts, and you can then discuss any concerns and decide if they are the right person for your charity. 

Technically, Police Checks are not transferable between charities and organisations, and Police Checks are only current at the date of issue. It's also important to note that some government departments require volunteers to undergo police checks to meet funding and duty of care conditions, especially if your volunteers work with vulnerable people.

It is also worth noting that Police Checks are not a financial concern for most charities and volunteers. Supporting Australians in need is at the core of our team's beliefs, so if you manage or are looking to work with a charity or non-profit group, please contact our team to discuss how we can work within your allocated budget. 

What about international volunteers? 

Currently, there are no approved means to obtain Police Checks for international volunteers. Australian charities that take on overseas volunteers need to manage potential risks by employing a comprehensive screening process, which may include phone calls and communications with previous employers and charity groups. If in doubt, we would recommend reaching out to the ACNC for further guidance.

However, Visa and right to work checks are a strict legal obligation with international volunteers fines of up to $315,000. Please contact the NCC team to learn more about Visa and right to work checks.

Introducing InstaID+ - the latest identity verification solution

Working with charities and non-profits, National Crime Check is proud to announce that we have now launched InstaID+, a new app that also ensures you are not at risk of any volunteers using false identities.

By sending your InstaID+ link to a prospective volunteer, you can be assured of the person's identity and avoid any fraudulent individuals. Combined with an NCC Police check, you can rest assured that your volunteers do not have a criminal history that you need to be concerned about.

Find out more today.

To learn more, please feel free to contact the NCC team with your charities needs, and we can help you onboard the right volunteers, in less time. Further information can also be found here.