Spent Convictions Schemes

All Australian police agencies, except for Victoria, have legislation governing how information about a person’s criminal convictions may be used and disclosed. These legislative schemes, known as spent convictions schemes, impose rules on when convictions may become spent, and places limits on what may be done with the information relating to convictions that are spent. Each scheme also imposes a general prohibition on persons disclosing information that have become spent.

The Commonwealth spent conviction scheme, outlined in Part VIIC of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) (Crimes Act), directly applies to the delivery of the Service and is taken into account by the ACIC in exercising its functions and powers.

Broadly speaking, the schemes apply to convictions where a waiting period has passed and the applicant has not re-offended, giving the applicant the right not to tell another person or authority about their conviction (a right of non-disclosure).

In some circumstances, these protections do not apply. This includes:

  • those involving people who work with children (and in some states or territories other
  • categories of vulnerable groups)
  • decisions made by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre as part of its antimony laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulation
  • checks for Aviation Security Identification Cards and Maritime Security Identification Cards and
  • National Health Security holders
  • decisions made under the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (Cth)
  • decisions made under the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).

Australian police agencies are responsible for administering disclosure schemes. When doing so, they consider the type, category and purpose of the police check. A police check may include:

  • charges
  • court convictions
  • findings of guilt with no conviction
  • court appearances
  • good behaviour bonds or other court orders
  • pending matters awaiting Court hearing
  • traffic offence history
  • warnings and warrants.

If you require more information: the Commonwealth, and each state and territory publishes their disclosure schemes online.

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