Justice Minister Judith Collins today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Australia governing a trial of reciprocal sharing of criminal history information for employment vetting purposes.
The Memorandum was jointly signed earlier today by Australia’s Minister for Justice, Hon Jason Clare. It follows the agreement announced on 29 January 2012 by Prime Ministers John Key and Julia Gillard to establish an initial six month trial with the Australian state of Queensland.
“This is a significant step in implementing the agreement to enhance criminal history information sharing between New Zealand and Australia,” Ms Collins says.
The six month trial will test and develop sustainable solutions for trans-Tasman information sharing. It is part of a wider programme of work supporting border control and law enforcement, consistent with the free movement of people across the Tasman.
The trial involves New Zealand agencies - the Ministry of Social Development, Child Youth and Family, the Teachers' Council and IHC New Zealand - that currently undertake high risk employee checks through the New Zealand Police extending those checks to Australia.
Similarly, the trial enables Queensland government employers to extend their criminal history checks to New Zealand.
“The scope of the trial strikes the right balance between including agencies that can benefit most (because they already operate in potential high risk sectors, and with vulnerable individuals), and the need to ensure robust operating procedures are in place before consideration is given to extending the arrangement.
“Criminal history checks require the prior written consent of the individual concerned and the trial does not change that requirement,” says Ms Collins.
The trial will last six months and is expected to commence around 1 July this year. A full review will be undertaken before the trial is extended to other Australian states.