Spent Convictions Scheme

The following information is general in nature and although every care has been taken in its preparation, it should not be relied upon to determine whether or not in any particular case a conviction or finding of guilt will or will not be disclosed in a National Police Check.

Where there is any doubt or confusion, you should first contact the Criminal Records section in the Police service of the State or Territory where the offence in question occurred and enquire as to whether the matter will be disclosed in a National Police Check or not.

Legislation exists in all Australian States and Territories as well as the Commonwealth limiting the disclosure of certain older offences once a period of time passes during which a person has committed no further offences. This period is known as the 'waiting period' or 'crime-free period' and is generally 10 years where a person was dealt with as an adult and 5 years otherwise (3 years in NSW).

This legislation is commonly referred to as 'spent convictions' legislation.

If a person re-offends during the waiting period, the waiting period starts again (ie a person has to have a clear period of 10 years, or 5 years where the person was not dealt with as an adult, before older offences can be considered to be spent).

An offence which is not released due to the operation of spent convictions legislation is referred to as a 'spent conviction' and will not be disclosed.

There are exceptions (known as exclusions) to the non-disclosure of offences which may apply in some circumstances and might relate to either the reason a National Police Check (NPC) is being done, or the nature of an offence a person has committed. For example, State and Territory legislation generally allows that sex offences are never spent and are always released regardless of the age of the offence. Similarly, applicants who require a NPC for working with children may find that all offences they have committed – regardless of how long ago those offences were – are released on a certificate.

Applications for National Police Checks for the following purposes may disclose details of older convictions and/or findings of guilt as an exclusion may exist in the State or Territory where the offence occurred –

  • Working in Aged Care/working with the Aged
  • Working with children/working as a teacher/teacher's aide
  • Working with or caring for the disabled
  • Hospital employment
  • Firearms permit applications
  • Firefighting/fire prevention
  • Immigration/Citizenship
  • Immigration Detention Centre employment
  • Some Government security clearances
  • Superannuation trustee
  • Some overseas employment
  • Taxi/Uber/Bus driver accreditation

The above list is not exhaustive and further exclusions may exist under Commonwealth, State or Territory legislation.

Before disclosing any information, each (Australian) Police service will apply the legislation or release policy of that State to any offences a person may have.

Where an offence is capable of being spent, it will be spent automatically. You do not need to contact us or take further action. However, if the offence was a Western Australian offence, you will need to apply to the WA Police to have the offence spent. Visit the WA Police website and search 'spent convictions' for more information.

Application of spent convictions legislation for National Police Checks done by the AFP

The AFP release results for National Police Checks under either A.C.T. or Commonwealth legislation, depending on a combination of the purpose an applicant selects for their National Police Check as well as the nature of any offences the applicant may have.

Commonwealth

A "spent conviction" is a conviction of a Commonwealth, Territory, State or foreign offence that satisfies all of the following conditions:

  • It is 10 years since the date of the conviction (or 5 years for juvenile offenders); and
  • The individual was not sentenced to imprisonment or was not sentenced to imprisonment for more than 30 months; and
  • The individual has not re-offended during the 10 years (5 years for juvenile offenders) waiting period; and
  • A statutory or prescribed exclusion does not apply.

The effect of a conviction being spent is:

  • A person with a conviction which has been spent does not have to disclose that conviction to any person, including a Commonwealth authority, unless an exclusion applies;
  • It is unlawful to access, disclose or take into account spent convictions of Commonwealth offences.

Australian Capital Territory

A conviction becomes spent automatically at the completion of the prescribed (crime-free) period which is:

  • 5 years where the person was not dealt with as an adult, or
  • 10 years where the person was dealt with as an adult.

The period starts from

  • The date a sentence of imprisonment is completed, or
  • The completion of a control order (eg Good Behaviour Bond), or
  • Where no sentence of imprisonment is imposed, from the date of conviction.

Some convictions can never become spent. These include:

  • A conviction for which a sentence of imprisonment of longer than 6 months has been imposed;
  • A conviction for a sexual offence;
  • A conviction of a corporation;
  • A conviction prescribed under the regulations.

The effect of conviction becoming spent is that:

  • A person with a conviction which has been spent does not have to disclose that conviction to any person unless an exclusion applies;
  • It is an offence to disclose information regarding spent convictions;
  • It is unlawful for a person who has access to a person's criminal record held by a public authority to disclose a spent conviction;
  • It is unlawful for a person to fraudulently or dishonestly obtain information about a spent conviction from records kept by a public authority.

Privacy standards

More information on the correct handling of your personal information is available online from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

National Security Hotline

Visit the AFP Futures Centre

The Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

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