To share this story, choose your platform.

Applying for jobs: Need a police check?

If you’re applying for a government role, chances are you’ll need a police check. You understand how these checks play a crucial role for employers when recruiting, but have questions:

  1. Who conducts police checks?
  2. What is a police check?
  3. Why are police checks needed?
  4. Do I need a police check
  5. What are my rights?
  6. How do I go about getting a police check?
  7. How long does it take to get a police check?
  8. How much does it cost to get a police check?
  9. How long are police checks current for?

This week’s article by face2face Recruitment provides some answers, relating to employment applications for the Australian Public Service only.

Who conducts police checks?

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) works with Australian police agencies and accredited bodies to deliver the National Police Checking Service. You can apply for a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check – commonly referred to as a police check – through this service.

The ACIC processes all applications.

What is a police check?

A police check summarises your police history information in Australia. In the employment world, police checks verify and confirm the identity of candidates. This gives employers assurance that the applicant is who they say they are.

Why are police checks needed?

Candidates may need a police check to apply for a government position. More jobs require them than don’t. Approximately 20% of the government roles face2face worked on in August 2022 required a candidate to have a current police check before being submitted for a role. Another 40% (approximately) of candidates required a Baseline Security clearance or above. This involved completing a police check.

Employers need police checks to make informed decisions about applicant suitability. It gives employers peace of mind that they’re not hiring someone with a criminal record that could put their organisation at risk.

An organisation looking for employees to work with children, the elderly or other vulnerable communities, for example, may want to rule out past offenders convicted of abuse. Another example is employers requiring employees to work in financial areas or handle sensitive information. Police checks reassure employers that monetary funds will be safe from fraud. They also reassure employers that sensitive information will be safe.

Do I need a police check?

Not all government positions require a national police check, but an increasing number do. The job description will state if you need one.

face2face suggests that candidates get on the front foot and complete a police check to a current one at hand in case it’s needed.

What are my rights?

For employment purposes you must give signed permission for a police check to be conducted. No one is permitted to conduct one for employment purposes without your informed consent. This means you’ve:

  • read about and understand how your personal information and related police information will be handled
  • given permission to an accredited body or police agency to submit a check to ACIC on your behalf
  • permit your potential employer to use checked results to assess your suitability for a position.

Only authorised people can see the results, like police staff, certain ACIC staff, and certain accredited body staff.

How do I go about getting a police check?

You must submit your police check application through an ACIC accredited body or an Australian police agency. You’ll need to provide some official documents to check your identify.

Head to which offers a one-hour guarantee for lodgement, or research options online.

This video details how the process works.

How long does it take to get a police check?

Timeframes vary, but the ACIC reports that around 70% of checks are completed in real-time with results being returned to the organisation within minutes.

ACIC also says that around 30% of checks take more time due to complexity. This includes checks referred to a police agency because a ‘potential match’ is found. An example is when an applicant shares similar details, like a common name, with other individuals recorded in police systems.

How much does it cost to get a police check?

The cost varies depending on who does your police check. At the time of writing, it’s possible to get a police check done for around $50.

How long are police checks current for?

Police checks last from six to 12 months (depending on the department).

NOTE: The information in this article is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. It’s information that is intended to be general in nature. If you need to, seek independent advice on your circumstances.


To share this story, choose your platform.

Register today

We can help you find your perfect job

Whether it’s your first job, a new job, a career change, a promotion or re-entering the workforce after a break, we’re here. face2face will help you create a winning resume, boost your interview skills, and support you to find your perfect position.

Register today