On 1 February 2021, the Worker Screening Act 2020 (the Act) replaced the Working with Children Act 2005 and provided a single framework for conducting checks for both National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) workers and volunteers and people engaged in child-related work.
The purpose of the Act is to assist in protecting children and vulnerable people from harm by ensuring that people who work with, or care for them, are subject to a screening process. This requires volunteers and employees intending to work with children or who provide services under the NDIS to undergo a national criminal history check and screening process in order to obtain a Working with Children Check (WWC check) or NDIS check.
Applications for WWC checks and NDIS checks are processed by the Department of Justice and Community Safety (the Department).
Victoria’s NDIS check for volunteers
As a result of ongoing advocacy by Volunteering Victoria and a number of other organisations, the fee ($119.40) for the NDIS check is waived for volunteers working for registered NDIS providers in risk assessed roles.
What are we doing right now?
Volunteering Victoria is monitoring the situation to assess ongoing issues for VIOs and volunteers in applying for NDIS checks. The WSU is interested in and receptive to receiving feedback to ascertain if changes need to be made to their processes. It should be noted that the screening of NDIS volunteers and the waiver process is relatively new but is being bolstered by the Worker Screening Unit (WSU) with additional staff and the clearing of WWC back logs.
Volunteering Victoria is engaged in ongoing consultation with the Worker Screening Unit (WSU) to pass on concerns and issues with the process with a view to ensuring the screening does not create barriers to volunteering in NDIS roles.
This is currently a two- step process – Volunteering Victoria has asked whether the fee waiver and the NDIS check application could be dealt with simultaneously to save time and reduce delays – at this stage this is not possible but the Worker Screening Unit (WSU) is continuing to assess the process.
No automated response acknowledging receipt of the waiver application – this has been passed on the WSU who are looking into this. The WSU has advised that all emails correctly addressed to <[email protected]> with the subject of ‘Fee Waiver Request’ are promptly forwarded on for processing.
The volunteer fee waiver is being managed by utilising a paper-based manual application process. This is necessary as an online application through Service Victorian requires a fee to be paid. The manual application process takes much longer than the online process. Volunteering Victoria has taken this up with the WSU and we are assured that more staff are being brought in to assist with processing of manual applications and it is anticipated that the process will be quicker going forward.
December 2020 – January 2021
Agreement reached to waive the NDIS check fee for volunteers waived on application
Consultation with the Department on the processing of NDIS checks for volunteers