Criminal Records Checks and Employment Project

Living Down the Past: Criminal Record Checks and Access to Employment for Ex-Offenders is a project being jointly conducted by Monash University and RMIT University researchers.

The research is an Australian Research Council Linkage Project undertaken with the support of the following partner organisations: Corrections Victoria and the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC, formerly HREOC), together with JobWatch, Fitzroy Legal Service, the Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO), and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC).

The central aim of the project is to identify the current practices of employers Australia wide in using criminal record checks. By inviting human resource managers and other employment decision makers from various industries to participate in a survey, and building on these results with subsequent interviews and focus groups, the project endeavour to obtain a clearer picture of the issues, policies, legislation and/or practices which are currently guiding the use of criminal record checks in Australia.

This research is motivated by the fact that employment is considered to be essential to the rehabilitation of offenders, but the increased demand for criminal record checks in pre-employment processes can have a negative impact on this population’s employment prospects.

At the same time, more and more employers are faced with weighing up the significance of a criminal history and evaluating its predictive force as a risk management tool, whilst negotiating privacy, anti-discrimination and spent convictions schemes.