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Headline: Australia and New Zealand sign MoU for criminal history checks

Communities on both sides of the Tasman will benefit following the expansion of a criminal history checking service to vet individuals for employment, training and registration purposes.

Under a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), approved New Zealand agencies will be able to make requests, through New Zealand Police, for Australia-wide criminal history checks from CrimTrac. Similarly, approved Australian agencies will be able to request criminal history information from New Zealand Police. 

Australian Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan, along with New Zealand’s Minister of Justice, Amy Adams, and Minister of Police, Michael Woodhouse, have signed the MoU.  The MoU finalises commitments made at the Australia-New Zealand joint-Cabinet meeting in February 2014.

The MOU builds on a trial between Queensland and New Zealand to exchange criminal history information for vetting purposes and expands the new arrangements to all eligible agencies in New Zealand and all Australian States and Territories.

“This service will help eligible agencies in both countries make informed decisions about an individual’s suitability for employment, registration and training,” Mr Keenan said. “This provides an important tool for protecting the community from people who may pose a risk.”

“Criminal history exchange forms part of a wider programme of work on reciprocal information sharing to support better border control and law enforcement.  It is important we have the proper processes in place to support increasing numbers of people travelling between our countries,” Mr Adams said.

The MoU contains provisions to protect individuals’ privacy, such as ensuring measures are put in place to protect personal information from unauthorised disclosure, alteration or access.  Information will be exchanged in accordance with domestic legislative requirements including New Zealand’s ‘clean slate’ laws and Australia’s ‘spent convictions’ legislation.

As with existing criminal record checking arrangements, approved agencies will only be able to check someone’s criminal history if they have the informed consent of the individual involved.

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