Child protection and working with children

Surf Life Saving Clubs (SLSC), as organisations that involve children, should have a strong interest in keeping children safe. As such Surf Life Saving New South Wales (SLSNSW) has developed a number of procedures and resources which complement the Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) Member Protection Policy.

It is important for SLSCs to understand that good child safe policies and practices are the best way to reduce potential environmental risks and keep kids safer in our organisation. SLSNSW encourages all clubs to use a range of responses to manage the potential risks in their individual environments, including meeting their Working With Children Check (WWCC) legal obligations.

While a WWCC can be an important tool in an organisation’s approach to being ‘child safe’, they cannot identify people who have not previously been caught or are yet to offend. As such, although an important part of being a child safe organisation, practices such as reviewing risks, appointing Member Protection and Information Officers (MPIO), good communication and training, and managing allegations, are equally important.

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Good structures and practices

  • Become familiar with relevant SLS policy and procedure, including the Member Protection Policy and Grievance Procedure.
  • Take steps to identify and reduce child protection risks.
  • Appoint a Member Protection and Information Officer, or other such role, to help manage child protection at the club.
  • Understand privacy obligations, and respect the privacy rights of children as well as those people who provide information.
  • Regularly tell members about child protection expectations, policies and procedures via websites, meetings, newsletters and other channels.
  • Train key members - including your MPIO, committee and those working in child-related roles - on child protection issues and management.
  • Encourage participation – it is an integral component of being a Child-safe Child-friendly organisation. If kids’ participation is not valued and facilitated in an organisation, children and young people are unlikely to speak up about experiences of feeling unsafe.

Meet legal requirements

Clubs must ensure that all volunteers and employees in child-related roles, who do not fall under the exemptions, must get a WWCC. It is also their responsibility to verify the WWCC and accept, suspend or reject membership and participation of these people based on the outcome of their WWCC.

Manage allegations

With good structures and practices in place (e.g. a clear grievance procedures and trained members), clubs will be in a better position to deal with allegations effectively. All child abuse allegations should be dealt with promptly, sensitively and professionally ideally by a trained MPIO, or if not another allocated person within the club who has knowledge/experience in handling such allegations.

Serious allegations – Members and employees of SLSCs may come across children being abused or who disclose their abuse to them. This abuse may be occurring within or outside of the club. Anyone who suspects, on reasonable grounds, that a child or young person is at risk of significant harm should call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111. Click here for more information who can make a report and how to make a report.

Working with children checks

The WWCC is managed by the Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) and involves a national criminal history check and review of findings of workplace misconduct. The result of a WWCC is either a clearance to work with children for five years, or a bar against working with children. Cleared applicants are subject to ongoing monitoring, and relevant new records may lead to the clearance being revoked.

All NSW Surf Life Saving (SLS) members and employees (over the age of 18years) require a WWWCC from April 2015 if they are undertaking a child-related role. However, there are a number of exemptions, which are explained below.

Roles within Surf Life Saving constitute child-related work

Some of the roles within SLS that require a WWCC include:

  • Member Protection and Information Officers / Grievance Officers
  • Junior Activity Chairperson
  • Age Manager / Age Manager Assistant
  • Water Safety personnel for Nippers / Surf Education programs
  • Youth / Rookie / YEP Coordinator / Assistant
  • Sport Coaches for under 18 only squads/teams
  • TAFS / Program Assistants for under 18 only groups

Exemptions for the Working With Children Check

The exemptions under the WWCC which are most relevant to SLS include:

  • Children (under the age of 18)
  • Administrative, clerical, maintenance or ancillary work not ordinarily involving contact with children for extended periods
  • Very short term work: not more than a total of 5 days in a calendar year
  • Volunteering by a parent or close relative with a team, program or other activity in which the child usually participates or is a team member
  • Co-workers and supervisors where a child works

For more information about what roles needs a WWCC, and what exemptions apply, please see the SLSNSW Guidelines (pdf).

Member Protection Declaration Forms

Even with the introduction of the WWCC, the SLSNSW Member Protection Declaration form still needs to be completed by members. While the WWCC looks specifically at national criminal history and workplace misconduct in relation to child-related work, the SLSNSW Member Protection Declaration is designed to make members aware of their responsibilities in relation to criminal charges more broadly, anti-doping violations, and any other matters which could constitute risk to members, employees, volunteers, athletes or reputation.

For more information about the Member Protection Declaration form please see the SLSNSW Guidelines (pdf) or download the form here.

Child Safe Sports video

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Frequently asked questions

Do Volunteers need to pay for a WWCC? No, WWCCs for volunteers are free while WWCCs for paid workers are $80.

What is the definition of a paid worker? Any payment, honorarium, lump sum, out of pocket expenses including in cash or kind such as discounted player fees. It is not payment where reimbursement is paid and a receipt for expenses is provided.

What if someone needs to provide a WWC Number to the club but refuses? They cannot work or volunteer with children under 18 years.

Where can I get a WWC Number?
Apply on-line at

How long does a WWC Check last?
WWC Check is renewed every 5 years.

What does a WWC Number look like? Paid position WWC1234567E Volunteer position WWC1234567V

Can I use a volunteer WWC Number (WWC1234567V) for a paid position?
No. You must go on-line and upgrade to a WWC for paid employees.

Can I use a paid WWC Number (WWC1234567E) for a volunteer position?
Yes, a paid position WWC Number can be used for both paid and volunteer positions.

A member of my club is a Police Officer. Do they still need a WWCC? NSW Police and Australian Federal Police are exempt from the requirements to get a WWCC in their role as a police officer, however they are not exempt in any other roles that they hold – including the a child-related role in their club.

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