Go to top of page

Screening and background checks

Your organisation’s child safe environments policy must include a rigorous screening process to select staff and volunteers who are safe and suitable to work with children.

This should be a combined process of background checking, risk assessment and decision-making regarding whether a person is suitable to work or volunteer with children. 

This is more likely to be achieved using a variety of screening measures, which may include face-to-face interviews, referee checks and relevant history assessments. In some cases, relevant history assessments are required by law.

Face-to-face interviews

Interviews for candidates for positions that involve working with children should include:

  • both behaviour/event based questions and open questions that invite explanations rather than yes or no answers (for example, why do you want to work with children?)
  • questions about the applicant’s motivation to work with children, their competency and their values
  • inquiry that verifies their past experience.

Referee reports and reference checks

Applicants must provide at least one referee that is current or the most recent employer.

When conducting referee checks, you should:

  • ask the referee if they have directly supervised the applicant and directly observed their work with children
  • directly ask if they have any concerns about the applicant’s work with children
  • ask if they have ever observed the applicant working with a child with challenging behaviour.

Relevant history screenings

In some cases, the law requires that a relevant history assessment is conducted before a person is engaged to work with children. Visit the relevant history obligations page for more information about your organisation's obligation to conduct relevant history assessments.

Other strategies that may form part of your suitability assessment process

You may also consider:

  • using a comprehensive application form
  • undertaking situational based assessments
  • confirming the person’s qualifications
  • conducting other applicable suitability assessments (such as psychometric testing)
  • conducting orientation and training applicable to the role the person will be performing
  • undertaking on-the-job observation
  • including a probation period for new applicants.


Child safe environments

Phone: 8463 6468
Email: educationchildsafe [at] sa.gov.au