All students are required to have a valid Australian nationally coordinated criminal history check (commonly known as a police check) if placements will be undertaken in a public, private or community health setting.
What is a nationally coordinated criminal history check?
A nationally coordinated criminal history check (police check) is a collation of police and conviction history information about an individual that has been determined releasable by Australia’s police agencies and made available by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).
Police checks are important because they help protect the community by providing police and conviction information to inform decision making. Police checks are used by many organisations to minimise the risk of employing or granting an entitlement to an unsuitable person.
How do I get a police check?
The University of Melbourne is an accredited body of the National Police Checking Service, meaning it is an authorised police check provider. This accreditation can be confirmed on the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) website.
Tip: Police checks provided by the University are free of charge for students!
Before the University can submit a police check, you need to:
Police check applications and results are managed through the Faculty's placement administration tool, Sonia.
Heads up! On Monday 26th August we will be launching a new Australian police check application portal in collaboration with National Crime Check – a secure and user-friendly police check provider accredited by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. The new system is more intuitive and easier to navigate on mobile devices, plus you’ll now be able to verify your identity completely online. For more information, refer to the email we sent to students on 13 August 2019.
Frequently asked questions
I'm under the age of 18. How do I apply for a police check?
If you're under the age of 18, you won't be able to apply for a police check through Sonia.
Contact the Health Hub to obtain a manual application form, which will need to be signed by both you and a parent or legal guardian.
We recommend you complete your identity verification through Sonia before submitting your application form to us, but you can also submit the necessary identity documents with the application form if you prefer.
Do I have to get my police check through the University?
No, but we strongly recommend that you do.
The University of Melbourne is an accredited body of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission's National Police Checking Service, which means our checks undergo the same process as checks from any other provider and have the same validity in the community. Police checks provided by the University are done through an easy online platform, return results faster than some other providers and, best of all, are 100% free for students.
If you do decide to obtain your police check through a different provider, there are some things you need to know:
- The provider must be an accredited body listed on the National Police Checking Service website
- The police check will need to specify an appropriate Purpose; for example, "Medicine student placement in a healthcare environment"
- You will not be able to submit your Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check Certificate to the University in the usual way via Sonia. Instead, you will need to use this form.
How long is my police check valid?
Results of police checks have no set expiry date. They are point-in-time checks, meaning that the results only reflect police records on the date they are released by each police agency. Your placement host organisation is responsible for determining how long police checks are to be accepted as ‘valid’, based on their own risk management strategy and assessments.
Most placement host organisations require students to have an appropriate police check issued within 12 months prior to to commencement of placement. Sonia will treat all Australian police checks as valid for 12 months from the date of issue, but students can apply for a new police check earlier if needed.
Can I get a copy of my police check?
Students who make a police check application through the University automatically receive a copy of their police check via email within two weeks after the result is released.
If you require a copy of your police check sooner than this or you have lost your initial copy and require a new one, contact the Health Hub. Note that copies of police checks are only available for three months after the result is generated.
Restriction on use of police check
Police check applications made through the University are conducted for a specific purpose: Student placement in a healthcare environment. As the stated purpose affects what police information is released, it is against the law to use a police check for any other purpose.
How is my personal and police information used and protected?
The University takes the protection of personal information very seriously. You can access information about the University's approach to privacy here.
Your personal and police information is collected, processed and stored entirely within Australia, on systems maintained by the University and its authorised contractors. Access to personal and police information is limited according to the consent you provide during the application or submission process, and is restricted to only those people who require access for the purpose of administering your student enrolment. Read our Information Security Policy.
The University will use the personal and police information related to you and obtained by the University as part of the police check process to satisfy its legal and contractual obligations related to student placements. This includes disclosing details of your police check to your assigned placement provider(s) so that they can assess your suitability for placement within their organisation.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and Australian police agencies will use the information provided by you as part of the police check application process:
- To disclose police information relating to you, to the accredited body
- To update records held about you
- For law enforcement, including purposes set out in the Australian Crime Commission Act 2002 (Cth)
My police check is wrong. What can I do?
If you do not agree with the results of your police check, you must:
- Review the police check result
- Notify the University of the incorrect information and ask us to raise a dispute
- Provide us with all information and supporting evidence we require to lodge the dispute.
The University is obligated to accept and escalate all disputes to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission on your behalf.
While the dispute is investigated, you must not use the original police check for any reason. You will be advised when the investigation has concluded and the outcome of the dispute.
If I've got a criminal record, does that mean I can't go on placement?
Your criminal history information disclosed on your police check will be reviewed by your assigned placement provider. They will assess your suitability for placement according to their own risk framework and policies.
The University will make every effort to source suitable placements for you, and a staff member from your department will speak with you directly about what impact there might be on your studies (if any).
How do I interpret my police check result, and how is it determined?
Police information is disclosed by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and Australian police agencies in accordance with applicable legislation and information release policies of the Australian Government and state and territory governments.
When determining what information to release, police agencies will consider the Purpose of the check. All police checks obtained through the University have a pre-defined purpose that is tailored to your course; for example, "Placement in a healthcare env - Master of Speech Pathology student".
All Australian police agencies, except Victoria, have legislation governing how information about a person's criminal convictions may be used and disclosed. These legislative schemes, known has spent convictions schemes, impose rules on when convictions may become spent, and places limits on what may be done with the information relating to such convictions. Each scheme also imposes a general prohibition on persons disclosing information that has become spent.
There are some circumstances in which these protections do not apply, for example when a person will be working with children or other vulnerable groups.
These links may help you source information on spent convictions:
- Australian Government
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
How to interpret the result
The results provided on your police check will outline whether you have No Disclosable Court Outcomes (NDCO) or Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCO).
NDCO means there is:
- no police information held against you; or
- no police information that can be released according to the purpose and category of the police check.
DCO means there is police information that can be released.
A police check result with a DCO may list the following police information:
- court convictions, including penalties and sentences
- findings of guilt with no conviction
- court appearances
- good behaviour bonds or other court orders
- matters awaiting court hearing
- warrants and/or warnings
- traffic offences.