Recent amendments to the Working with Children Act 2005, which commenced 1 August 2017, have not altered the exemption for parents. A parent, or immediate relative, who volunteers at their child’s school as part of an activity or event in which their child is a participant is not required by law to hold a Working with Children Check card.
Schools are encouraged to develop their own policies to assess and verify the suitability of volunteers, and may decide to require a parent to hold a Working with Children Check Card, depending on the activities and volunteer work to be involved.
Parent volunteers are encouraged to contact their child’s school to determine if the school’s own policy requires them to hold a Working with Children Check card.
More information about the Working with Children Act 2005 and the changes that have occurred since the amendments can be found on the Department of Justice and Regulation’s website.
Involvement in schools by parents and carers helps children achieve the best possible learning outcomes. You can participate in school life, both formally and informally, through school councils, parent clubs and volunteering.
Volunteers in schools
Government schools have volunteer programs where parents can directly participate in school activities. These opportunities cover things like helping in the school canteen, helping with school excursions and school events; assistance with reading and maths programs; and participation in environment committees and cultural groups.
If you are interested in volunteering you may be asked to apply for a Working with Children (WWC) check, which helps to keep children safe by preventing those who pose a risk to the safety of children from working with them in paid or volunteer work. For more information about the WWC check, see:
Working with Children
Contact your child’s school to find out about volunteering opportunities and programs.
School councils include the principal (as Executive Officer) and members elected from the school's parent and Department (school staff) categories. Many schools also have community members co-opted onto their school council. Councils can have between 6 and 15 members.
Elections to school council positions are completed by the end of March each year. All parents or guardians of students enrolled at the school are eligible to vote for candidates wanting to participate on the school council if an election is required.
School councils operate under a legislative framework within the Victorian government school system. They play a key role in:
- supporting the principal to provide the best possible educational outcomes for students
- school accountability and improvement processes, and
- the endorsement of key school planning, evaluation and reporting documents.
Each member brings their own valuable life skills and knowledge to the role, councillors may need to develop skills and acquire knowledge in areas that are unfamiliar to them. What councillors do need is an interest in the school and the desire to work in partnership with others to help shape the school's future.
For more information on school councils, contact your school or see:
Many schools have a club or association for parents seeking an active role in the school. Parent clubs give you the opportunity to participate and contribute to your school community and in partnership with principal and school councils organise social, educational and fundraising activities.
Parent Clubs – has a model for constitutions and information on financial procedures for parent/welfare clubs.
Parents Victoria – is a voluntary organisation that offers advice and information for parent clubs in government schools, as well as providing an advocacy service for individual parents.
There are also several other organisations that represent the interests of parents and children, including: