The DCSI Screening Unit provides background screening services to a variety of organisations: large and small, government and non-government, employers and volunteer coordinators.
Screening is a key element of a strategy for creating and maintaining child-safe organisations and safe environments for other vulnerable people.
The DCSI Screening Unit conducts risk assessments on behalf of employers and volunteer organisations, which help inform decisions about their workforce and any risk to their clients. This is an organisation-driven process, requiring the informed consent of the person concerned.
Help to make informed decisions
The DCSI Screening Unit does not make the final determination as to whether or not a person is suitable for employment or volunteer work. This decision rests with the organisation.
It is therefore important that employers and organisations engaging volunteers are aware of their legislative, regulatory and/or contractual obligations in relation to screening requirements for their employees and volunteers.
A suite of Commonwealth and South Australian policy and legislation makes it mandatory for employers in relevant fields to carry out background checks on prospective employees or volunteers.
Principles of natural justice and procedural fairness
Assessments by the DCSI Screening Unit are conducted in accordance with the principles of Natural Justice and Procedural Fairness. Applicants, employees, contractors and volunteers have the right to procedural fairness throughout the relevant history assessment process.
Standard 6 of the child safe environments: standards for dealing with information obtained about a person's criminal history as part of a relevant history assessment (PDF 845KB), available from the Department for Education and Child Development website, explains the obligation to ensure procedural fairness.
The common law recognises a duty to accord a person procedural fairness or natural justice when a decision is made that affects a person's rights, interest or legitimate expectations.
Principles of natural justice or procedural fairness:
- Fairness - decisions will be made on the basis of a set of established rules that are known.
- Transparency - what happens in the legal system can be seen and understood by the general public, rather than decisions being made behind closed doors.
- Equality before the law - each person should be treated in the same way before the law no matter who they are.
- Freedom from bias - a decision maker must not have a personal interest in the decision she or he is making and must not prefer one person over another when they are making a decision. Another word for this is 'impartiality'.
- The right to be heard - a person who is affected by a decision has a right to present their views and facts that support that view (evidence) to the decision maker before a decision is made. It also means that a person who is accused of doing something wrong has a right to be told what it is they are said to have done wrong and to be shown the evidence against them so that they can defend themselves against the accusation.
Source: Australian Legal System, Hot Topics 79, LIAC, 2011, pg 4.
For more information
- The screening process - Frequently Asked Questions
- Screening by the DCSI Screening Unit
- Child-safe-environments - obligations regarding procedural fairness and records