Today’s correspondent is an applicant for paramedic registration who has a prior criminal conviction.    They ask:

… what is the limit for criminal record search in NSW.  I ask as I recently had [a criminal record check] done (federal police check) and it came back with nil up to and including the last 15years, there was one done by AHPRA and they went back 15 years, and are now asking me to explain everything on it. I honestly don’t remember it as I have moved on from my that period in my life, and it would seem the defence force had no problem with anything prior to 2001 even, so I don’t know how AHPRA can expect me to remember my past that was forgotten.

I’m not sure how you forget a criminal conviction but that’s not for me to say and I’ll accept that is the case.

In New South Wales the Criminal Records Act 1991 (NSW) says that a conviction is ‘spent’ if the offender commits no further offence for 10 years (ss 8 and 9).  This does not apply where the person was sentenced to imprisonment for more than 6 months or where the offence was a sexual offences.  Those convictions are never ‘spent’ (s 7).

Where a conviction has been spent, the person is not required to disclose that conviction (s 12).  However this rule does not apply where the person is seeking employment in some specific occupations, in particular where a person is required to obtain a ‘working with children’ clearance (s 15(1A)) or where a person is seeking to join a fire brigade and has convictions for arson (s 15(2)).

Notwithstanding s 12, a ‘criminal history law’ (which includes the Criminal Records Act 1991 (NSW)) does to apply to an application for registration as a health professional (Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW) ss 77, 79, 135 and s 5 definition of ‘criminal history law’).   The Paramedicine Board’s Criminal History Registration Standard puts it this way:

Under the National Law, spent convictions legislation does not apply to criminal history disclosure requirements. This means that when making a declaration about criminal history, applicants and registered health practitioners must declare their entire criminal history, from Australia and any other country, including any spent convictions.


The limit for a criminal record check in NSW is 10 years, but not if you are applying for registration as a health professional which includes registration as a paramedic.