Criminal history screening - frequently asked questions - Disability Services, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Queensland Government)

Criminal history screening - frequently asked questions

Why do Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services funded non-government service providers or National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) non-government service providers require criminal history screening?

People with a disability can be more vulnerable to abuse, neglect or exploitation than other members of the community. Criminal history screening is used as part of a broader risk management strategy to enhance the safety of people with a disability.

Even though some workers or volunteers do not deal directly with people with a disability, they may still have some contact with them.

Therefore, all people who are employed or proposed to be employed (including volunteers) by a Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services funded non-government service provider or NDIS non-government service provider at a service outlet (a place where specialist disability services are provided) will need to be screened.

Who is screened?

Any person working or volunteering in a service outlet must be screened, including:

  • employees and volunteers (including students on work experience with the service provider)
  • people who have a contract with the service provider
  • executive officers and members of a board, and
  • management committees or other governing bodies.

Screening is not required for:

  • consumers (clients of the service)
  • tradespeople who are not employees
  • people engaged to work only outside of the hours that disability services are provided.

Also, screening is not required for volunteers who are a relative of a person with a disability receiving services at a service outlet, as long as they only provide care for their relative.

Who is exempt from criminal history screening?

The following individuals are not required to apply for a prescribed notice:

  • a consumer of services (clients)
  • a tradesperson who is not an employee of the service
  • a relative of a consumer (client) only providing care for their relative
  • a person providing disability services only to children (these persons are screened under the blue card system)
  • a registered health practitioner

Registered health practitioners are exempt from criminal history screening under the Disability Services Act 2006 if their engagement with a department funded non-government service provider or NDIS non-government service provider relates to their functions as a health professional.

The following professions are captured by the definition of a registered health practitioner in the Disability Services Act 2006:

  • chiropractors
  • dentists
  • doctors
  • nurses
  • occupational therapists
  • optometrists
  • osteopaths
  • pharmacists
  • physiotherapists
  • podiatrists
  • psychologists.

Do I have to apply for criminal history screening myself?

Individual workers do not apply for criminal history screening; rather, the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services funded service provider or NDIS non-government service provider must apply on behalf of individuals who are engaged or proposed for engagement by the service provider.

The service provider must seek the person's consent to conduct screening and must sight two forms of identification prior to lodging the application. This information is required so that the person's identity can be verified before screening is conducted.

Applications must be submitted using an application form, which is available from this website.

When will I be screened?

An application for criminal history screening must be made before a person starts work at the service outlet.

Criminal history screening will be conducted every three years for each person who continues to work for a Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services funded non-government service provider or a NDIS non-government service provider.

If there is a change in a person's criminal history, that person is required to notify the service provider of the change in history. The service provider must then submit another application for criminal history screening if they wish to continue to engage the person.

What if I work for more than one Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services funded service provider or NDIS non-government service provider?

The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services funded non-government service provider or NDIS non-government service provider must seek a person's consent for criminal history screening to be conducted. It does not matter if a person consents to more than one application from different service providers at the same time.

The department will keep a register of all applications. Only one criminal history check will be conducted and only one positive notice letter and card will be issued. All service providers who have submitted applications for screening will be advised of the outcome.

If a person has already undergone criminal history screening in the previous three years, they may show their positive notice or yellow card as evidence. In this case, the service provider does not need to submit an application for screening, but must contact the department to confirm the positive notice and yellow card are current and the person is able to work at their service outlet. In this case, Form 10-6 should be used to verify a positive notice card has been issued.

What criminal history information will the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services obtain?

Criminal history screening is a national check of a person's entire criminal history. This includes all charges and convictions from across Australia, including when no conviction is recorded. In some cases, this may include information about current or past investigations into certain types of offences.

The Disability Services Act 2006 overrides the Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1986, which would usually prevent disclosure of all but serious charges or convictions after a certain period of time.

How will the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services use the information?

The department will use the information it receives to determine whether or not a person should be employed by a department funded non-government service provider at a service outlet.

This decision will be made by the Director-General of the department. Staff from the department's criminal history screening area will assist the Director-General in this work.

In some instances, if a person has a criminal history, no final decision about a person's eligibility for employment will be made until the person has been advised and has had the opportunity to provide further information (a submission) in response to the department.

Once a decision is made a person will be issued with either a positive or a negative notice. These terms are explained below.

What offences will affect the decision?

Where a person has no criminal history, a positive notice will be issued. However, having a criminal history does not automatically affect a person's engagement.

The Disability Services Act 2006 identifies some disqualifying offences, which automatically preclude a person from being issued with a positive notice. If a conviction for one of the disqualifying offences appears in a person's criminal history, or if the person is subject to certain offender reporting or prohibition orders, the person is known as a disqualified person. It is an offence for a disqualified person to apply for a prescribed notice. Please see the fact sheet 'Who is a disqualified person' (PDF, 232 KB) 'Who is a disqualified person' (RTF, 944 KB) for further information, including a complete list of disqualifying offences.

Where a person has a criminal history that does not contain convictions for disqualifying offences, the Disability Services Act 2006 provides detailed guidance on types of offences and how they must be considered in making a decision.

Assessment Guidelines have also been developed in accordance with the Disability Services Act 2006 to assist in the decision-making process. You can obtain a copy of the Assessment Guidelines by emailing criminalhistoryscreening@disability.qld.gov.au or phoning the Criminal History Screening Hotline on 1800 183 690.

The Disability Services Act 2006 identifies some serious offences that will impact on the decisions that are made. If a conviction for one of these offences appears in a person's criminal history, the Disability Services Act 2006 and the Assessment Guidelines provide direction on the decision that is to be made as a result.

The prime consideration in decision-making is the right of people with a disability to live free from abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Other factors that will be taken into consideration in making a decision are:

  • the nature of the offence
  • when the offence occurred
  • whether it was a charge or conviction
  • the penalty imposed
  • the relevance of the offence to engagement with people with a disability.

What is a positive notice?

A positive notice means a person can work for a Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services funded non-government service provider or a NDIS non-government service provider at a service outlet (a place where specialist disability services are provided).

If an application for criminal history screening is approved, a person will receive a positive notice and a Yellow Card.

The Yellow Card is evidence that a positive notice has been issued to that person. The letter will detail all the obligations of the person in relation to criminal history screening. Both should be kept safe.

A positive notice remains current for three years from the date of issue, unless it is suspended or cancelled earlier because of a change in criminal history.

Prior to the positive notice expiry date, the person must apply (through their service provider) for a renewal of their positive notice.

What is a negative notice?

A negative notice means that a person cannot work for a Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services funded service non-government provider or a NDIS non-government service provider at a service outlet (a place where specialist disability services are provided).

It is an offence for a department funded non-government service provider or a NDIS non-government service provider to employ a person with a negative notice at a service outlet.

A negative notice remains current indefinitely unless it is cancelled or is successfully appealed through the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal. A negative notice can only be appealed in certain circumstances.

What if I disagree with the decision?

In most cases, if the person disagrees with the Director-General's decision to issue a negative notice, they may lodge an appeal with the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a review of the decision.

Who will have access to criminal history information?

There are strict arrangements in place to ensure the confidentiality of personal information.

Information obtained through criminal history screening will only be made available to the individual and those officers responsible for making a decision. It is unlawful for these officers to disclose the information to third parties.

The service provider will be advised of the decision that is made on the basis of a person's criminal history. However, they will not be provided with any information about the history or the reasons for the decision. All information will be stored safely and securely.

When can I start working for a service provider?

Paid employees may start employment at a service outlet (a place where specialist disability services are provided) once an application for criminal history screening has been made. Volunteers must await the outcome of their screening application (that is, a positive notice and Yellow Card must have been issued) prior to commencing duties within a service outlet.

A person can also be employed if they have been previously screened under the Disability Services Act 2006 and hold a current positive notice and Yellow Card. A person cannot start work if they hold a current negative notice.

What happens if my criminal history changes while I am working?

Please refer to the fact sheet 'Changes in criminal history' (PDF, 202 KB) 'Changes in criminal history' (RTF, 787 KB).

Where can I obtain further information regarding criminal history screening under the Disability Services Act 2006?

You can obtain further information by emailing criminalhistoryscreening@disability.qld.gov.au or phoning the Criminal History Screening Hotline on 1800 183 690.

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