Safety checking for Tertiary Education Organisations

This page contains information for Tertiary Education Organisations on their role in ensuring children’s worker safety checking is done for students on placements.

Vocational trainees and placement students working with children – for example nurses, social workers, doctors, paediatricians, youth counsellors and teachers – need to be safety checked under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Safety checking needs to be completed before they start as a children’s worker. As they are starting in a new role, current students will need to be considered as new children’s workers when determining the check required.

Students working in core workforce roles will need to be safety checked from 1 July 2015, and from 1 July 2016 this extends to non-core children’s workforce roles.

As the ‘employer’ the host organisation is legally accountable for ensuring the checks are done.

However, they can rely on checks undertaken by others on their behalf within the previous three years, as long as they also:

  • confirm the identity of the student, and
  • have assessed the risk they may pose to the safety of children (based on the information available).

In many cases Tertiary Education Organisations (TEOs) may be best placed to complete safety checks on behalf of host organisations. TEOs generally already do similar checks, and can continue to do so as part of their enrolment processes, once confirming they meet the new standard.

Because the legislation says the checking needs to be done on behalf of the host organisation, TEOs undertaking checks will need to confirm they are acting on behalf of the host organisation through a memorandum of understanding or similar (a letter of intent, for example).

Both the Tertiary Education Commission and Universities NZ have developed guidance about safety checking, including an implementation framework. Information is available on the TEC (external link) (external link) and Universities New Zealand (external link) (external link) websites.