When you’re fresh out of college/university and looking to further your education the thought of 

undergoing a background check could not be further from your mind. However, there are certain fields where having a pristine criminal record is a must and here is why.

How widespread is juvenile crime?

If you’ve never studied the issue before, the answer might be shocking. The rate of young people, 15-19 years old, getting in trouble with the law is far higher than criminal offence rates among other age groups.

For instance, in 2008-2009, the rate was 6.3 per 100,000 people in the 15-19 years age group,which is more than three times higher than the rate of offenders in the over 25 category. True, the numbers have been falling in recent years, but they are still very high among young Australian.

Now, most offences committed by Australian teenagers are minor – theft, including shoplifting, public disturbances, brawls that result in injuries, fare dodging or road incidents. You won’t find many youngsters committing serious crimes, like murder or sexual assault, and that’s the good news.

Why are criminal records required for university admission

The first thing you need to know is that not all forms of higher education require background checks. However, a police check is a must when applying for admission in any field that involves interaction with people in vulnerable categories.

If you want to study anything that is health related, you will have to enroll in clinical placement programs or at least visit health institutions, where you will have to interact with people that, according to the law, are in a vulnerable position. 

The same goes for educational studies or even sport related. If your education course will involve interacting with children in any way you will have to undergo a background check when you apply. 

This has nothing to do with you, it’s the law and it states very clearly that all people working in any capacity with children, the elderly or person with disabilities must have a clean criminal record. This applies even to volunteers and it is a safety measure put in place to protect vulnerable categories.

Options to get a background check

Another reason some universities require criminal background checks is to prevent you from studying for a profession only to discover you cannot get a licence. If you do have a criminal record you won’t be able to get a liscence to work in the health industry or have anything to do with children so why waste your time?

Most Australian universities that fall within this category have very strict admission procedures and you will have to check admission requirements. 

The good news is that for certain vocational placements, you may be eligible for a student discount or apply for a criminal history check under a “volunteering” capacity. A direct link to an official agency is the following: Australian National Character Check, police checks for volunteers in Australia.

Some require you to get your police check through a specific official institution like the above link. You can obtain one from the post office, a local police station or online like the link that is provided above. Generally, going through an online background check is faster and easier, as there’s less red-tape involved.

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