A number of industries, professions and trades require prospective employees to undergo a Police Check in order to satisfy registration or licensing requirements. As Australians become more safety and security conscious the number of these organisations requiring Police Checks is increasing, and individuals who have previous convictions may be restricted from working in particular industries or from obtaining a licence or certification to work in specific areas.
In addition to other legislative requirements, a Police Check investigating criminal history records helps to ensure that individuals are of "good character" when operating in positions of trust in the community.
Some of the professions that require Police Checks and examine the criminal history of individuals prior to licensing or registration include the following:
By conducting Police Checks into the professions above, organisations can ensure the most appropriate, reputable individuals working for their organisations, limit any potential business risk or liability, and ensure the safety of their staff and patients or clients.
Being charged with a criminal offence does not mean individuals are automatically disqualified or de-registered, or are restricted from obtaining specific licenses or accreditation. A clear connection between the criminal activity and the licensing or registration qualification is required for enforcement of any disqualification.
There is at this time no overarching legislation or national framework for license disqualification or de-registration. Some specific trades and professions have strict regulations surrounding the class of conviction that may lead to disqualification, whilst others have a more general requirement of "good character" or "fit and proper person" standards that can be reasonably argued in a court of law. In cases where there are legislative or licensing requirements for Police Checks, generally various appeal mechanisms exist, and in some jurisdictions specific legislation prevents discrimination based on criminal history.
For example, in Tasmania and the Northern Territory legislation exists which outlaws discrimination based on criminal record. And in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory there are aspects of the law that make discrimination based on "spent" (or expired) convictions unlawful.
There is also Federal legislation which protects individuals against discrimination due to a criminal record through the "Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act". This Commonwealth Act of parliament does allow individuals to make a case in writing outlining the discrimination before it goes through a process of investigation and then conciliation between employer and employee.