A police check or 'Working With Children Check' (WWCC) is often required by parents or by legislation in each State. Babysitters and Nannies should check the requirements in your state, as listed below.
In most states a WWCC is only required by babysitters working for organisations (like agencies), but not when they are working independently in private homes. It would be beneficial however if you already have a WWCC or Blue Card due to university course requirements or work experience. This will give parents 'peace of mind'. The WWCC is different to a police check in that it is a detailed search for child-related offences, including employment proceedings and AVOs (Apprehended Violence Orders). The WWCC can be ordered by either you or your organisation - depending on what state you live in.
Babysitters and Nannies can obtain a Federal or State Police Check from their local police station for a small fee. The police check will reveal any convictions such as driving offences and theft. However most checks will not reveal any conviction that was more than ten years ago (due to the Spent Convictions Scheme). Please refer to the sites below for more information on obtaining checks.
A national service you can use to obtain a police check for any state is http://www.policecheck.com.au/
The 'National Police Record Check' application form is available from the Victoria Police Website at http://www.police.vic.gov.au/.
Fill in the form, mail it with a cheque (see site for specific amount, approx $32) to the Victorian Police, then wait 10 working days for them to send the certificate back to you. In Section A select "National Name Check". In Section E select the "Contact with children" box in "Option 1". For additional information, see the Victoria Police Website.
Victoria also has a Working with Children Check - this is only needed for sitters working for a commercial agency. However, it is recommended that you apply for a WWCC as it will let parents know you're a sitter they can trust, improving your chances of employment. See http://www.justice.vic.gov.au/workingwithchildren for more information.
New South Wales
You can obtain a Police Check application from your local police station or the NSW police site. 'Standard Disclosure' is recommended. Purpose of the check is a 'Name and date of birth check'. You must bring the completed form and 3 forms of ID to your local police station and pay the fee (approx. $52). See the NSW Police Web Site for more information.
The Working With Children Check is for carers in child-related work, employed by a commercial agency (so you don't need it for work found on Find A Babysitter since you are working for parents independently, but to improve your chances of employment, it is recommended that you obtain a Certificate for Self Employed People Working With Children). See www.kids.nsw.gov.au to find out more.
Apply at any police station in Queensland for a Criminal History Record Check (Qld only) or for a Police Certificate (Australia-wide) check. The Checks will cost approx. $40. If you already have a "Working With Children Check - Blue Card" this is also suitable. Read more information about the checks at the Queensland Police site: www.police.qld.gov.au. For more information about a Blue Card, see http://www.ccypcg.qld.gov.au/employment/whats-new.html
From Jan 2006, Western Australia now requires a Working with Children Check. This applies to any carers with a formal agreement like paid sitters working regularly. The form can be obtained from Australia Post Offices and costs approx. $50 to submit. See http://www.checkwwc.wa.gov.au/default.htm for more information.
Some forms are only available as a document in pdf format. To open a pdf file you must have a version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader software installed available here http://get.adobe.com/reader/