Industries requiring a blue card to work or volunteer with children
All children in Queensland have a right to be safe and protected from harm. The blue card system regulates activities which are essential to children’s lives. These include childcare, education, sport, cultural activities and foster care.
We check and monitor people who work in these industries and help organisations to create safe environments for children. However, the blue card system does not apply to every environment where a child may be present and not everyone needs a blue card.
The blue card system is regulated by 2 pieces of legislation:
- Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 (the Act)
- Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Regulation 2020.
To require a blue card, a person’s paid work, volunteer, student or business activities must fall within the scope of one of the 16 categories of regulated employment or 12 categories of regulated business.
Organisations should not adopt a policy requiring individuals to obtain a blue card if the work they are doing is not regulated by the blue card system. If a person’s activities do not fall within the categories of regulated employment or business, a blue card is not needed.
Whether a person needs a blue card will depend on several factors including the environment in which the work is done, type of work and frequency of work.
We have created resources to help the following industries decide when a person needs a blue card:
- babysitting services
- child accommodation and homestay providers
- contractors and tradespeople
- corrective services officers
- executive committee and board members
- foster and kinship care
- governing bodies of non-state schools
- Human Services Quality Framework
- intergenerational playgroup
- licensed care service
- local councils
- mayors and councillors
- Parents and Citizens (P&C) associations
- Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
- Queensland teachers
- registered health practitioners
- sporting and fitness
- trainee and tertiary students
- working for the Queensland Police Service
- working for Youth Justice.
Au pairs, nannies and babysitters need a blue card when supplying childcare services to children, either as a paid employee or when carrying on a business or working in a self-employed capacity.
You will need a blue card if you are receiving free or subsidised accommodation in return for your services as an au pair, nanny or babysitter. This is because the free or subsidised accommodation is considered a reward.
Find out if you need a blue card by reading the Au pairs, nannies and babysitters fact sheet.
Child accommodation and homestay providers
A person who supplies accommodation for a child in their home as part of a homestay arrangement, which is organised through a school or organisation for a period of more than 7 days in a calendar year, must have a blue or exemption card.
All adults living in the home in which homestay is being conducted must have a valid blue card or exemption card before the homestay service is provided to a child. Adults living in the home are considered volunteers, even if they are not actively involved in supplying the homestay services.
Find out if you need a blue card by reading the Child accommodation and homestay providers fact sheet or watch our Child accommodation and homestay services video.
Contractors and tradespeople
There are certain child-regulated environments where contractors or tradespeople supply services that may require them to have a blue card, if they are employed to work in these environments for more than 7 days in a calendar year. These include:
- education and care services, for example outside school hours care (OSHC), vacation care, and a kindergarten or childcare centre
- disability work
- school boarding facilities
- residential facilities.
For example, a person will need a blue card if usual functions of their employment or business are carried out—or are likely to be carried out—at an education and care service premises while children are being educated and cared for. Some OSHCs or vacation care services use the school grounds and therefore the ‘education and care service’ premises extend to those within the school boundary.
Find out if you need a blue card by reading the Contractors and tradespeople fact sheet or our Contractors entering schools with childcare facilities fact sheet.
Corrective services officers
You don’t need a blue card if you are working within your professional capacity as a Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) employee.
For example, if you are a QCS employee working with a person under the age of 18, as part of your role you will not need a blue card. You will only need a blue card if you do other work/volunteering with children that is not part of your work with QCS.
Executive committee and board members
Executive committee and board members of an organisation running a child-regulated business—such as a childcare centre, health and counselling services for children or sporting clubs—are considered business operators and require a blue card (even if they do not have any direct involvement with children).
Find out if you need a blue card by reading our fact sheet for Board members of organisations providing multi-services under the one company (for example: Childcare and healthcare services) or our Executive committee and board members fact sheet.
Foster and kinship care
Foster and kinship carers and their adult household members (over 18 years) must hold a valid blue or exemption card.
Regular visitors to the home of an approved carer may also require a blue card. This will depend on the type of contact the visitor has with children and the frequency of the visits. Approved carers should talk to their Child Safety Officer (CSO) about any regular visitors to their home to decide if they need a blue or exemption card.
Check out the following resources, which include information about applying or if you’re thinking about becoming a foster or kinship carer:
- Interested in becoming a foster or kinship carer fact sheet for licensed care service providers and foster and kinship care recruiting officers
- Thinking of becoming a foster and kinship carer flowchart
- Foster and kinship carer video
- CSO information sheet
- Foster or kinship care easy-read fact sheet.
Read more information about blue card and exemption card requirements for foster and kinship carers.
Governing bodies of non-state schools in Queensland
Directors of non-state school governing bodies are considered to be business operators and carrying on a business regulated by the Act.
All directors of non-state school governing bodies must have a blue or exemption card* before they start in their position as director.
For more information about applying read our Governing bodies of non-state schools in Queensland fact sheet or the Directors of a non-state school governing body fact sheet.
Human Services Quality Framework
The Human Services Quality Framework (HSQF) is a system for assessing and improving the quality of human services. Organisations delivering services in-scope of the HSQF may require a blue card.
These resources are for services in-scope of the HSQF:
Intergenerational playgroup is a great initiative to bring together young and elderly Australians to play. These activities generally take place within various environments such as aged care centres, retirement living and early learning centres.
Adult participants of the playgroup may need a blue card if they participate in a regulated environment and exceed the frequency requirement. The environment where the activities are carried out will determine which category of regulated employment applies.
For example, If an organisation has partnered with an Early Childhood Education Centre to host the playgroup at a childcare or early learning centre once a week for 10 weeks, the adult volunteers interacting with children will need a blue card under the Education and care services category of regulated employment, as this is an environment-based category and the amount of time exceeds the frequency requirement. Usually these playgroups either occur in the education and care centre or inside where the adults live.
Where children are coming into an aged care facility—which is not a regulated environment—there is no requirement for those aged residents to hold a blue card. Other categories will apply depending on the environment where the volunteers and children are participating in the activities.
Licensed care service
Not everyone needs a blue card to work in a licensed care service, however employers must clearly identify which roles are risk-assessed. This refers to roles in a licensed care service that can allow a person to connect—and build a strong and trusting relationship—with a child.
An employee who holds a risk-assessed role will need a blue card.
Organisations within the scope of a licensed care service must consider other relevant factors in the context of their service environment.
As risk-assessed role includes carrying out any of the following to a child:
- physical touching of a child by
- providing direct or personal care
- supporting in activities and other events
- building rapport with a child that provides the opportunity to develop a trusting relationship in person, verbally, in writing or online
- access to the personal information of a child that could enable contact to be made
- within or outside the care service
- through verbally, written or online communication
- via a significant person in the child’s life
- after the child is no longer cared for by the licensed care service.
Members of a Council Executive Management Committee will require a blue card if the local council is running a business or if the individual is engaged in employment regulated by the Act.
Council employees will need a blue card if they are engaged in employment regulated by the Act.
We have been working with the Local Government Association of Queensland to help local councils understand which roles need a blue card. We have developed an additional fact sheet, new Yarn with Jess episodes and videos to help local councils understand their blue card requirements.
Watch our online information videos on:
- Is your council misusing the blue card system?
- Who needs a blue card in the local council?
- What are the obligations of a local council?
- What to do when there is a change in an employee’s blue card status.
Read information—including examples of when a blue card is required—in our Local councils fact sheet or Blue card requirements for local councils fact sheet.
Mayors and councillors
A mayor or councillor does not require a blue card to hold office. Mayors and councillors will need a blue or exemption card if they are engaged in regulated child-related activities for more than 7 days in a calendar year.
Mayors and councillors who are direct executive members* of the Council Executive Management Committee where the council authority runs a regulated business will need a blue card or exemption card.
Additional examples to help you determine if you require a card are available in the Mayors and councillors fact sheet.
There are a number of factors that must be considered before deciding if individuals need a blue card to take on roles within a school P&C association, including:
- the type of role within the P&C (an ordinary member or an executive)
- the services for which the P&C is responsible, such as whether the P&C is responsible for the provision of an Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) service
- whether a person intending to take on a role within the P&C has a child attending the school
- whether the role within the P&C is a paid position or a volunteer position
- whether the person intending to take on a role within the P&C is a registered teacher.
Read our P&Cs fact sheet to understand when a blue or exemption card is required.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
People working or volunteering with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) need a blue card to deliver services regulated by the blue card system.
QFES protects children and young people by ensuring blue card screening for its staff and volunteers and having risk management strategies in place. For example, QFES staff and volunteers are among the first on the frontline helping the community in emergency situations. These activities are captured under the Health, counselling and support service category of regulated employment. Outside of emergencies, they give their time to support vulnerable members of the community in attending events, schools and visiting childcare centres. Another example is where QFES employees conduct fire education programs within schools. These activities may be captured under the Schools—Employees other than teachers and parents category of regulated employment.
Queensland registered teachers
Teachers registered with the Queensland College of Teachers do not need an exemption card when teaching at a school or boarding school. However, they will need an exemption card when supplying child-related regulated services outside of their teaching role.
This may include:
- privately tutoring children
- working in a childcare centre
- volunteering at a children’s sporting club
- participating in a homestay
- participating in a reading program
- supervising after-hours school care
- working inside a school where state-delivered kindergarten is provided.
Registered health practitioners
A registered health practitioner means any person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, except students.
A registered health practitioner with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is exempt from obtaining a blue card when employed or carrying on a business as part of their functions as a registered health practitioner. However, there may be instances where a registered health practitioner must have a blue card outside of their professional duties.
For example, a nurse who charges money for children's piano lessons would need a blue card under the Private teaching, coaching or tutoring category, because that does not relate to their work as a registered health practitioner.
Read our Registered health practitioners fact sheet for more information.
If you are a speech pathologist, you are not covered under AHPRA and will require a blue card to supply speech therapy to children.
Find out when a person working in a school needs a blue card by reading our:
- Duke of Edinburgh's International Award fact sheet
- School attendance supervisors and school attendance officers fact sheet.
Students aged 18 years, attending school
If you are a student aged over 18 years attending school and are engaged in regulated child-related work as a paid employee or volunteer, you will need a blue card.
Note: A school student aged 18 who is attending daily classes in school will not need a blue card.
Read our Students aged 18 years attending school fact sheet which includes useful scenarios on when a school student over the age of 18 requires a blue card.
Sporting and fitness
Anyone working or volunteering with children under 18 years of age in activities regulated by the blue card system must have a blue card. This includes various activities such as sport and recreation, clubs, associations, private coaching or health services.
There are many roles within the fitness industry and whether you will need a blue card will depend on the nature of the work you do. An exemption may apply if a parent volunteers in an activity their child takes part in (for example, a mother volunteering to coach her child’s netball team), however there are scenarios which can apply in the sporting industry. You cannot access an exemption or volunteer within this context if you are a restricted person.
Parents who are thinking of volunteering at a sporting club should speak directly to the club/executive body to confirm if an exemption applies to their situation.
Trainee or tertiary students
Students and trainees should apply for a blue card as soon as possible after enrolling in a course that will require them to hold a blue card to complete a practical placement.
Some examples of courses that require you to have a blue card include teachers, childcare workers, nurses and paramedics.
Working for the Queensland Police Service
You don’t need a blue card if you are working within your professional capacity as a sworn police officer.
If you do other work with children, you need to apply for an exemption card, not a blue card. You will only need an exemption card if you do work with children outside your work as a police officer.
Other Queensland Police Service employees
You don't need a blue card if you are working within your professional capacity as a Queensland Police Service (QPS) employee.
For example, if you are a police liaison officer and work with children in this role, you do not need a blue card. You will only need a blue card if you do other work with children that is outside your work as a QPS employee, such as coaching children or young people at the local football club.
Working for Youth Justice
If you will be working for Youth Justice you will need a blue card. We have information to guide Youth Justice employees through the application process.
Our Thinking of working for Youth Justice flowchart includes information about applying for a blue card and what to do if you have an existing blue or exemption card and are starting to work for Youth Justice.
For more information, watch our Youth Justice—Overview of the blue card system video or read the Frequently asked questions fact sheet which explains the application process is greater detail.