Blue Card (Qld)
A Positive Notice blue card (“blue card”) is generally required by those who work or volunteer with children, or run a child-related business in Queensland. The card demonstrates the holder has passed the state’s Working with Children Check, and so is eligible to work with children. The system aims to keep children safe from harm by assessing and monitoring those involved in activities such as childcare, education and sport.
Blue cards are governed by the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000.
When is a blue card needed?
There are many categories of employment covered by the Act which require workers to hold a blue card. These include:
- residential facilities;
- childcare services;
- health, counselling and support services;
- churches, clubs and associations;
- sport and active recreation groups;
- foster care.
An employer must not employ or continue to employ a person who does not hold a valid blue card, whether the card has been cancelled or suspended, the person has a current negative notice, or the person is disqualified from holding a card. The maximum penalty is $26,690 or 2 years imprisonment. The penalty is the same if an employer fails to notify the government of a new employee.
An owner/operator must not carry on a child-related business without a blue card. The maximum penalty is 500 penalty units ($66,725) or five years imprisonment.
The screening process determines a person’s eligibility to work with children by assessing:
- any charges or conviction for any offence in Australia;
- court orders, such as child protection prohibition orders or disqualification orders;
- reporting requirements under the Child Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2004 and Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003;
- disciplinary information from certain organisations;
- investigations of allegations relating to serious child-related sex offences.
Exemptions do not apply in certain situations, such as when a person:
- is a volunteer parent;
- is a volunteer aged under 18;
- works (paid or unpaid) in regulated child-related employment for 7 days or fewer in a calendar year;
- is a consumer at a child disability services provider’s site who also works at the site;
- is a registered health practitioner, corrective services officer, ambulance officer or police officer.
Exemption cards, which are valid for 3 years, are held by teachers registered with the Queensland College of Teachers.
Who cannot apply for a blue card?
Blue cards cannot be issued to people:
- convicted of disqualifying offences;
- convicted of serious offences;
- who hold a negative notice.
These people cannot apply for, start or continue in child-related work (paid or unpaid), or run a child-related business. The penalty is up to 500 penalty units ($66,725) or 5 years imprisonment.
The list of disqualifying offences is drawn from six Acts: Classification of Computer Games and Images Act 1995, Classification of Films Act 1991, Classification of Publications Act 1991, Criminal Code Act 1899, Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) and Customs Act 1991 (Cth).
All disqualifying offences are listed in the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000. The definition of disqualifying offence also covers an equivalent offence from another jurisdiction, and an offence which involves counselling or procuring the commission of a disqualifying offence, or attempting or conspiring to commit a disqualifying offence.
A disqualified person is someone who:
- has been convicted of a disqualifying offence, which includes:
- sex with a child;
- other child-related sex or pornography charges;
- murder and other serious sexual or violent offences against an adult or child;
- is a designated sex offender;
- is prohibited by a court from applying for or holding a blue card.
The list of serious offences is drawn from the same six Acts as the list for disqualifying offences, plus the Drugs Misuse Act 1986.
A negative notice is issued when a blue card application is refused. It remains in place until it is cancelled. A person can apply to cancel a negative notice two years after it is issued but cancellation is not automatic.
Police maintain information on every applicant and holder of a blue card. If there is a change to an applicant or card-holder’s police profile, action can be taken immediately.
Child and youth risk management
Under the Act, all child-related organisations and businesses must have a child and youth risk management strategy. The strategy has eight mandatory requirements:
- statement of commitment;
- code of conduct;
- recruitment, selection, training and management;
- handling disclosures or suspicions of harm;
- compliance policies and procedures;
- managing breaches of your risk management strategy;
- high-risk activities and special events;
- communication and support.
Failure to develop the minimum requirements is an offence under the Act which carries a maximum penalty of 20 penalty units ($2669).
For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.