Who screens the screeners? Don’t just go digging for information – you need to use professional screeners to avoid problems.
Employee and tenant screening has become commonplace around the world, and Australia is no different. However, while you may think that this process is no more than snooping into people’s personal history, there’s actually a lot more to it than simply contracting background checking services.
In fact, if you were to start doing some digging of your own, chances are you’d be the one getting in hot water!
Professional employee and tenant screening companies need to be accredited and licensed by a variety of organizations and professional bodies, depending on the type of screening they offer. Here are a few of the more important bodies in Australia.
The first layer of oversight for the screening industry in Australia is at government level, with various national and territorial organizations like the various Departments for Communities and Social Inclusion and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner overseeing and enforcing various pieces of legislation like the Privacy Act of 1988.
Background checking services who happen to do unauthorized snooping into anyone’s history may well find themselves running afoul of these or other departments.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies
The Australian Institute of Family Studies is another industry body that governs how and when information about individuals can and must be gathered, and how it must be used and handled.
In this case, the organization oversees issues like Working With Children Checks, or WWCC’s, and Police Checks.
ACIC, or the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission is another organization that vets, oversees and accredits companies and individuals to handle personal criminal record checks. Agents must meet certain criteria in order to be accredited, and when they do, their clients can be assured that they are requesting and handling sensitive personal information correctly.
Australian Human Resources Institute
Another organization that is involved in the employee screening industry is the Australian Human Resources Institute, or AHRI. While they’re not strictly an accreditation organization, but rather a professional member based body, they do have a strict code of conduct, and they do keep members abreast of laws and updates in HR best practices.
Australian and Territorial Bar Associations, and CPA Australia
Often, companies that are involved in background checking services of any kind are staffed, managed or owned by lawyers, and in Australia, there are a variety of bar associations that govern the behavior of lawyers.
Likewise, many individuals who are involved in financial background checks, due diligence and other business related checks are CPAs, or Chartered Accountants. These financial industry professionals are governed by the rules and policies of CPA Australia.
When in Doubt, Ask or Report
The simple fact is that there are dozens of organizations in Australia who are tasked, in whole or in part, with ensuring that companies and individuals do not breach the privacy of citizens or residents of Australia. If you are in any doubt about the legality of any type of background, criminal record check or financial check, as an employer or an employee, it’s always best to ask first.
Likewise, if you are an employee and you are asked to report any personal information that you feel is a breach of your privacy, make sure that you report the issue to one of the many organizations that are responsible for protecting your privacy.
Background screening is something that should only ever be handled with the utmost respect, tact and privacy for the individuals involved. When in doubt, leave it to professional background checking services who screen the screeners to do it right.