One of the biggest barriers to getting a job for some people with a history of drug use is the need to provide a National Police Check (NPC)/national criminal record check (NCRC), a working with children check (WWCC) and what they might uncover. Many employers — especially in the government and community sectors — are making NCRCs and WWCCs mandatory. A criminal record check can be a long, hard process but if you want the job badly enough you can get through it — you just need to know how to go about it and stick with it.
Firstly a NCRC and WWCC are different. Both are required if you are applying for work where you may come in contact with children, including jobs in health.
NATIONAL CRIMINAL RECORD CHECK
If you were charged with a relatively minor offence and haven’t been charged since, you may find that your charges are ‘spent’. Being ‘spent’ means that you are not required to disclose the conviction to any other party, for any purpose. Convictions that cannot be ‘spent’ include:
Where a prison sentence greater than six months is imposed
Criminal charges that are yet to be finalised or heard in court
Where a person is convicted of a sexual offence
Where a conviction is imposed against companies
However, if you are applying for employment with a government department or exempted agency ‘spent’ convictions will be uncovered by a NCRC. It is possible to still get the job though. For instance, under NSW Health Policy, if you are the ‘preferred applicant’ and a NCRC shows that there is a criminal record they need to do a ‘risk assessment’ — if the charges aren’t relevant to the position or do not impact on your ability to perform the duties of the position, your appointment should by rights proceed. If there are questions, a risk assessment is undertaken by the Human Resources Department. They will consider the nature of the conviction, how many convictions there are, how old the convictions are, the penalty, any mitigating information and references. All these processes should remain confidential and documentation should remain secure at all times.
John has been through this process and this is his story:
“I’ve been through the process; I was the preferred applicant on a position, I knew my NCRC would come back with a history, so I did my research. I knew the preferred applicant for the position I’d applied for as not only had the contact person for the position told my referee, I knew the process was to only contact referees of preferred applicants. I tried a number of things including writing the Director General of the company asking them to outline their internal policy — I think this is what worked, as my case was referred to the Executive Officer of the Local Health District.
I was finally called in to see the Manager of the Human Resources for an interview. I showed him that I’d gathered all the relevant policies and evidence, he called a referee who happened to work in the field and I finally got the position – a six month process.
As I said, if you want something badly enough it just might be possible. Knowing your rights and pursuing them helps.