Volunteer organisations may ask you to get a criminal or police record check as part of their volunteer screening process. This is to protect volunteers, the people they will be working with and the volunteering organisation.
Select a topic to find out more:
- When will I need a police check?
- What does it involve?
- What’s the application process?
- How long does it take?
- Who pays?
- How long is a National Police Certificate valid for?
- What's CrimCheck?
- What if I'm volunteering overseas?
- Tools and resources
When will I need a police check?
Not everyone has to undergo a police check but you may be required to have one if a volunteering role involves:
- Working with vulnerable people, e.g. children, asylum seekers, seniors or people with a disability
- Financial duties, especially those involving access to bank accounts
- Driving duties.
Some volunteer organisations must get a police check for all volunteers as part of their funding arrangements with government departments.
You should be told if you need to get a police check when you apply for a volunteering position, as part of the application process or during an interview or information session. If you haven't been told, ask the volunteering organisation.
What does it involve?
In Victoria, a police check involves getting a National Police Certificate issued by Victoria Police. Some organisations are eligible to use CrimCheck, which does a simple police check and does not provide a certificate. These checks are offered to elegible organisations at a discounted rate.
A police check with CrimCheck
In Victoria, volunteering organisations with not-for-profit status or who are funded through the Department of Human Services can register to use an automated police checking service called CrimCheck. If your volunteer organisation uses this service the process of obtaining a police check is slightly different to the process for you to get a National Police Certificate.
Where the volunteer organisation qualifies for the CrimCheck service, they will ask for ID and you will need to fill in a form with some personal information such as your addresses for the last five years, your driver's licence number, passport number or other identifying information. You'll need to produce 100 points of ID, which someone from the volunteer organisation would normally need to see and verify. The process is quick and provides no detail to the volunteer organisation – they just see a line of information on the computer screen to say that the check is okay (or not). The service is quick and offered at a discount.
If the volunteer organisation uses CrimCheck you will not receive a certificate.
A National Police Certificate
A volunteer must apply for their own National Police Certificate (except where the volunteer organisation qualifies for the CrimCheck service).
For privacy, your National Police Certificate is posted to your address, not to any volunteer organisation. You will then need to show your certificate to the volunteer organisation. They may ask to make a copy of the certificate with your consent.
The application costs a reduced fee of $15.50 if the volunteering organisation is registered with Victoria Police (and most are). The full fee is currently $33 for a name check and $137 for a name and fingerprint search (typically not required for volunteer roles). Fees are reviewed annually.
Check with your volunteer organisation to see if they are registered with Victoria Police for the discounted rate. If they are eligible they will have a Community Volunteer Fee (CVF) number that is included in your application.
What's the application process?
To get a National Police Certificate you need to complete a 'Consent to Check and Release National Police Record' form.
Your volunteer organisation will usually provide you with the form (with their relevant parts completed, e.g. the organisation's CVF number). Or you can access it from the Victoria Police National Police Record Check web page, along with instructions for completion.
You will need to provide a minimum of 100 points of identification as part of your application. Identity documents that meet these requirements are listed in the form.
Both the completed application form and your identification documents need to be witnessed and certified by an authorised person such as a pharmacist, teacher or Justice of the Peace. People authorised to witness your application are listed in the form.
Applications must be posted. Post the completed form along with your certified identification documents and payment to:
Victoria Police Public Enquiry Service
PO Box 418
Melbourne VIC 8005
Once processed, your National Police Certificate will be posted to you.
How long does it take?
It will take a minimum of ten working days for your application to be processed. You can check the status of your application by calling the Public Enquiry Service on 1300 881 596.
Some volunteer organisations will pay for your National Police Certificate. Others ask volunteers to cover this cost. If you are unsure about who pays, check with the volunteer organisation.
If a volunteer organisation pays they will post the completed and certified application and payment on your behalf. The National Police Certificate will still be sent to you but the organisation will be told when the application was lodged and when the certificate was issued to you.
How long is a National Police Certificate valid for?
Certificates don't have an expiry date. It's up to organisations to decide how often they require volunteers to have police checks. The certificate is a result of police record checks up to the date of issue. This means you can provide your certificate to other volunteer organisations who ask you to get a police check.
What if I'm volunteering overseas?
If you plan to volunteer overseas, some organisations may require a police check with your application. You can get a national criminal record check from the Australian Federal Police. You can get this before you leave or when you are overseas.