What shows (and doesn’t) on an Australian police check

Police checks are conducted largely as a safeguarding measure for individuals and corporations. By identifying a person’s criminal history (or lack thereof), an employer can make an informed decision about this candidate’s suitability for a position.  

National criminal history checks protect an organisation from theft, fraud and other criminal activity, and protect vulnerable members of the community from harm. In some industries, police checks are mandatory, and it is illegal for someone who has been restricted from working with children or vulnerable people to do so. 

So, who needs a police check?  

Certain industries are likely to require police checks as part of their pre-employment screening. The checks are typically conducted on people seeking employment in the areas of: 

  • Community services 
  • Healthcare 
  • Childcare and education  
  • Banking and finance  
  • Government and defense 

Some organisations also run police checks on volunteers who are involved in sporting programs, churches, charities and after-school programs. 

Who runs the police checks?

Vetting.com offers two kinds of police checks, online in Australia – through the ACIC and through the AFP. Generally, the ACIC police check is suitable for standard pre-employment screening, and the AFP police check is often used for people seeking work in finance or with the Commonwealth Government, as well as those undergoing immigration applications.

Now that we know a little more about the context of criminal history checks, we can ask the big question…

What shows on a police check? 

An ACIC police check runs the candidate’s name against existing Australian police records and identifies disclosable outcomes. These may include: 

  • Court convictions/appearances/pending court matters  
  • Charges  
  • Findings of guilt without conviction  
  • Traffic offences  
  • Good behaviour bonds 

At Vetting.com, we include a Right to Work check with all our Police Checks for no additional cost! This way, employers can also ensure their candidate has a valid visa and working rights in Australia.  

What doesn’t show? 

There are some things that won’t show up in your average police check. This may be because a conviction has been spent – where more than ten years has passed since the offence (if committed by an adult, five years if the offender was a minor at the time). 

In addition to spent convictions, a police check may not show: 

  • Charges that have been dropped,  
  • Findings of non-guilt  
  • Traffic infringements not involving convictions (e.g. fines and cautions) 

However, it’s worth noting that these things will appear on a Working With Children check. This is because candidates who undergo a Working With Children check will have contact with children and vulnerable groups, so an abundance of caution is used. These checks are also available through Vetting.com.  

Common Questions 
  • How long does a police check take? 

The process of filling out the national police check online takes candidates just a few minutes! Once submitted, an ACIC result is received right away in 70% of cases. For the remaining 30%, the process can take up to 10 days. 

  • How long is a police check valid for? 

Police checks are typically valid for five years. However, they cannot be used for multiple positions. If you apply for a new job within five years, a new check will be requested as the new position may require a different depth of check, and an offence may have occurred since the previous check was run. 

  • Can I get a job if I have a criminal history? 

Yes. Though there are roles you will not qualify for, there are plenty of industries and positions that will employ someone with a criminal history. In accordance with the Australian Human Rights Commission, an employer can only reject an applicant based on their criminal history “if the person’s criminal record means that he or she is unable to perform the ‘inherent requirements’ of the particular job.”  

Find answers to more common questions about police checks in our FAQ’s

Written by Mary Snowden.


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