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Concerns with police checks in care

An industry alert has been distributed to provide clarification about compliance with police certificate requirements when residential aged care, home care and respite care providers broker or subcontract to organisations that provide aged care services on their behalf.
There is a requirement that providers who subcontract services to other organisations must be satisfied that the individuals providing the services meet police certificate requirements.
There is a requirement that providers who subcontract services to other organisations must be satisfied that the individuals providing the services meet police certificate requirements.

The industry alert was sent after the Department of Social Services (DSS) received requests for clarification about compliance with police certificate requirements.

Industry alerts outline an issue, trend or risk and provides suggestions of areas that aged care providers may wish to review.

There is a concern that the current Police Certificate Guidelines for aged care providers appear to require providers to sight and assess the police certificate of each individual providing subcontracted services.

According to the Aged Care Complaints Scheme (the Scheme), providers must meet their responsibilities under the Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act) or the relevant funding agreement. This includes the requirement that providers who subcontract services to other organisations must be satisfied that the individuals providing the services meet police certificate requirements.

Providers are reminded that they cannot delegate this responsibility nor can they subcontract individuals or organisations who do not meet the police certificate requirements.

Compliance with police certificate requirements is monitored through quality reviews. During a review, reviewers are required to make an assessment of whether the aged care provider has in place systems and procedures to ensure that all of its staff members meet the police certificate requirements.

Aged care providers must be able to demonstrate that they have a system in place to ensure a subcontracted organisation also complies with the police certificate requirements.

Aged care providers with subcontracting arrangements in place should be aware that it is not sufficient to determine whether police certificate compliance has been met by relying on:

  • a ‘one off’ statutory declaration that all staff from subcontracted service organisations have a police certificate
  • the assumption that the police certificate requirement is fulfilled because the subcontracted organisation is also an approved provider under the Act or a Commonwealth Home and Community Care or National Respite for Carers Program service provider.

Additionally, some subcontracted organisations may be concerned that information regarding an individual’s police certificate cannot be disclosed to the service provider due to privacy concerns.

Under the Privacy Act 1988, information regarding police certificates may be disclosed by subcontractors to third parties (such as the aged care provider) if the disclosure is, or is directly related to, the reason why the information was collected.

Nonetheless, it is good practice for subcontracted organisations to advise staff this information may be disclosed or seek their staff’s consent to disclose this information.

If you have any questions about the 'Industry Feedback Alert on police certificates and subcontractors', email agedcare.police.checks@dss.gov.au

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