QLD Blue Card system changes: No card? No start.
Queensland’s child protection screening system will be further strengthened in a suite of changes announced by the Queensland Government yesterday. Eight disqualifying offences have been added to the Blue Card screening, and employees new to working with children will no longer be able to commence without possession of a Blue Card.
Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the tougher measures were a reflection of the fact that the safety and protection of Queensland’s children was paramount.
The Blue Card system is one of a range of measures employed across government to protect children, and whilst the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) found the system to be one of the strongest in Australia, there was more to be done, Ms D’Ath said.
In the 2018-19 State Budget, $17 million of funding has been allocated to deliver the ‘No Card, No Start’ scheme, which was recommended by the QFCC. Under the scheme, people working in paid employment with children will require a Blue Card before they can start working with children.
The Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 introduced to Queensland parliament yesterday and includes a number of QFCC recommendations, such as:
- a centralised register for recording and reporting on the blue card status of foster and kinship carers, family day educators, stand-alone care providers and adults who reside in these residences;
- require all adult household members of stand-alone care services to hold a blue card; and,
- include the Department of Education within the definition of ‘notifiable person’ so that it receives notifications about changes to the blue card status of individual family day care educators and adult household members.
Offences which have been added to the Blue Card screening process as disqualifying offences under the Working with Children Act, following recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and QFCC, include:
- Kidnapping of a child
- Kidnapping for ransom of a child
- Child stealing
- Abduction of a child under 16
Mrs D’Ath said the Queensland Government had chosen to include murder of an adult and rape of an adult as disqualifying offences as well. Murder of a child and sexual offences against children were already on the list of disqualifying offences.
The Blue Card system mitigates past, present and future risks to children by:
- screening people working with children and deeming people ineligible to work with children based on their known police or disciplinary information;
- monitoring all Blue Card holders and applicants on a daily basis through an electronic interface with the Queensland Police Service (QPS) for changes in their Queensland police information; and,
- legislatively requiring child-related organisations to implement policies and procedures to manage risks to children.
In 2017-18 more than 2,900 people were precluded from working with children after having a Blue Card screening which revealed one or more of the offences on prohibited list, representing a high risk when working with children. Approximately, 32,000 organisations require a Blue Card to work with children in their field of responsibility, with one in six Queensland adults requiring a Blue Card.