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Criminal screening check options for businesses in Australia

person using black and silver laptop computerSome Australian businesses are required by law to conduct criminal record checks on prospective employees, while many others have included this screening tool in their hiring strategy simply to protect their business and their staff. No matter why they are requiring background checks, Australian companies have two ways of going about it – using the national police or the more modern online character check agencies. In this article we’ll examine both options with their pros and cons.

What are online character check agencies?

Over the past few years, there’s been a rise in the number of online character check agencies like which offer criminal record checks, a domain reserved to the national and federal police in the past. Many might wonder about entrusting such an important and sensitive type of check to a private body. What people need to understand about these online agencies is that they are fully accredited with the federal government. To be accredited, the agency’s owners, shareholders and managers undergo extensive procedures, while the platform itself is required to have complex security protocols.

Once accredited, the agency gets access to the national police database in all Australian states and territories. When you submit a query, the person’s name will be verified across all the databases at their disposal, so the police check they issue will show if a person has committed any sort of offence anywhere in Australia.

Bottom line, an online background check carried through an online character check agency is 100% accurate.

Can you order criminal record checks online through the Australian Federal Police?

One of the reasons many businesses prefer using independent agencies is that they operate fully online, their platforms are intuitive and easy to use, and the results come back typically in 2-3 business days.

If you want to go the traditional way, through the Australian Federal Police, they offer online checks only for a limited number of jobs, like those related to the federal government or jobs that require background checks under Commonwealth legislation. In other words, a private business cannot use the AFP, and must use the local police in their area. Sometimes, you can make a request online, but others will still require going to the local police station in person and filling in a stack of forms.

There’s a significant amount of red tape when using the national or federal police services, with very specific conditions the way forms must be filled in, signed or dated. One simple mistake and you need to start all over again.

On the other hand, with an online agency like there’s usually just one form you need to fill in and basic ID to upload. It doesn’t take more than five minutes to complete the process, whereas going to the police station will probably take hours, or days if you happen to make a slight mistake.

Also, payment options with online agencies are straightforward and it’s just as easy as ordering something on Amazon. You can use whatever card you normally use online or even PayPal. With the police, they only accept certain types of cards or bank cheques.

Another problem with national or federal police is that these institutions are notoriously understaffed and often have significant backlogs, so you’ll probably need to wait for more than 2-3 days. This is very important for companies that are looking to hire someone quickly and cannot afford to wait for the police clearance.