How the blue card system keeps your children safe

The blue card system regulates activities which are essential to children’s lives. These include childcare, education, sport, cultural activities, disability and health services, and foster care.

We check and monitor people who work in these industries and help organisations to create safe environments for children. We work closely with child-related regulated organisations to provide resources and a compliance framework to help identify and manage risks to children.

Children and young people rely on the adults who care for them to both protect and empower them to be safe from harm. Harm can take many forms, such as accidental injury, exposure to physical hazards, bullying, neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

Parents and carers play an important role in supporting child-related regulated organisations to be child-safe. As a parent or carer you should feel comfortable speaking with an individual or organisation about what policies and procedures they have in place to keep your child safe.

This page will help parents and carers understand the role of the blue card system in keeping kids safe, provide information to help choose child-safe organisations for children, tell you how to make a complaint about a service environment or card holder and provide information and resources.

How to check if an organisation is child-safe

Organisations and sole operators regulated by the blue card system must develop and implement a Child and youth risk management strategy which addresses 8 mandatory requirements that align with the National principals for child-safe organisations.

Below is a list of the blue card system mandatory requirements and some questions you should consider asking when deciding whether an organisation is right for your child. You can also download our checklist to take with you when visiting an organisation to help guide your conversation.

If your child receives National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) supports or services through an NDIS self-employed/business operator, you are considered a ‘relevant person’ which means you are entitled to receive notifications about the NDIS self-employed/business operator’s blue or exemption card status. Complete the Link an NDIS self-employed/business operator form to receive notifications.

List of mandatory requirements

  • Does the organisation have a Statement of commitment and acknowledge that child safety is the responsibility of everyone in their organisation?
  • Do children have a say in how the organisation keeps them safe?
  • Do staff empower children and young people to talk about their rights?
  • Are there clear messages about child safety and wellbeing displayed at the organisation, in their communication materials and on their website?
  • Is there a code of conduct which sets out the expected behaviour for all stakeholders involved in the organisation? This may include:
    • What—if any—physical touching of children is practised and how is this supervised or managed?
    • What language is appropriate to be used by staff, children and other people in the service?
    • Is there enough supervision of children? What is the staff-to-child ratio?
    • How will staff meet your child’s individual needs, such as allergies, cultural beliefs or disability?
    • How do staff and the organisation safely manage children in the bathroom? What safety practices are in place?
    • Are staff permitted to use mobile phones and tablet devices with children?
    • Can staff directly contact or be friends with your child outside of the service on social media, mobile phone or chat apps?
  • Is it clear how the organisation recruits and conducts checks on staff and volunteers?
  • Is there ongoing supervision and support for staff and volunteers?
  • Do staff and volunteers undertake regular training in areas such as first aid, child protection and reporting obligations?
  • Do sole operators have child protection / mandatory reporting training and first aid qualifications?
  • Are children and young people provided with a variety of ways to share their concerns or to tell someone when they feel unsafe?
  • Is information available on how to provide feedback, make a complaint or report an incident?
  • What are the procedures for dealing with a suspicion, disclosure or reporting of harm to a child or young person?
  • Does the organisation provide contact details for services such as Kids Helpline, Child Safety or the Queensland Police Service (the police) to the children and young people in their care?
  • Do the children and young people know how to make a complaint or report unsafe practices?
  • Are there clear processes for how breaches are managed and consequences for varying types of breaches?
  • Are there policies in place to assess risks if children in their care go off-site or guests come into the service?
  • When looking for a standalone carer, ask:
    • to visit the environment for a visual inspection
    • if the organisation has animals onsite, is there a harm prevention strategy in place
    • is the environment securely fenced
    • is homestay provided
    • who lives onsite.
  • Are child-safe procedures and polices communicated to everyone in the organisation?
  • Are staff and children supported to deal with issues like stress, conflict and bullying?

Volunteer parents

There are exemptions that allow parents to volunteer with their children without requiring a blue card. This includes parents volunteering in the below environments:

Although these categories provide an exemption for volunteer parents, you should check with the organisation about their blue card requirements.

Importantly, a volunteer parent can’t rely on this exemption if they are a restricted person. Read more about other exemptions or view our online resources.

How to make a complaint

It’s important to know who to contact if you have concerns or need to make a complaint about an organisation.

If your concern relates to a criminal offence or risk of harm to a child, please immediately contact the police on 131 444.

Consider the below scenario.

You collect your child from childcare and later notice there is a bitemark on their arm which appears to have pierced the skin. The following day, you can’t find an incident report form, so you ask a staff member about the bitemark. The staff member doesn’t know about it, can’t find an incident report, and is dismissive of your concerns. That afternoon you collect your child from childcare and ask another staff member about the incident. While they don’t know about it, they promise to ask the manager to call you to discuss. During your conversation with the staff member, you notice several children playing in an area with no staff member present. A week later, you still haven’t heard from the manager. You’re concerned the childcare centre isn’t adequately staffed, which may be placing children in danger.

What action can you take?

  1. Ask for a copy of the centre’s staff-to-children ratio policy.
  2. Write to the centre and ask them for a copy of the incident report. If you don’t receive a response, email the manager and request to meet with them.
  3. Alternatively, you can contact the relevant governing body and make a complaint.

Importantly, if you have concerns that an organisation does not have a child-safe culture, you can contact our compliance team.

Reporting to the governing/peak body

Depending on the service environment, you should contact the relevant governing or peak body listed below.

Reporting to Blue Card Services

We have a compliance team that monitors and audits individual and organisational compliance with blue card system requirements. The team also takes action in response to information received from the public where concerns are raised about individuals or organisations providing services to children.

Where serious compliance issues are found, the team works closely with the police and other regulatory partners to protect children from harm.

You can contact us to report an issue if you have concerns:

  • that an organisation does not foster a child-safe culture
  • about the behaviour or actions of a blue or exemption card holder
  • that a person working within a child-related organisation does not hold a blue or exemption card
  • you believe a person working or volunteering with children is a restricted person.

How to report suspected child abuse

If you suspect child abuse

If you have reason to suspect a child is experiencing—or is at risk of—abuse, contact a Child Safety service centre.

Read more about:

If you suspect child sexual abuse

To help ensure children are kept safe from harm, mandatory reporting laws were introduced to target behaviour that ignores or hides the sexual abuse of children. If you have concerns and reasonably believe that a child is—or has been—a victim of sexual abuse by an adult, you must report it to the police.

Read more about:

Communicate with your child to keep them safe

TRACE method

As a parent or carer, you can use the TRACE method to build your child or young person’s confidence and awareness about safe environments and what to do when they feel unsafe.

  • Teach your child or young person about their right to feel and be safe.
  • Remind your child or young person it’s okay to say no if they feel unsafe or unsure about a situation.
  • Actively talk with your child or young person about their experiences with the organisation, activity or service.
  • Confirm with your child or young person the trusted people they can go to for help.
  • Encourage your child or young person to speak up and remind them there is nothing they cannot tell you.

Other resources

The following government and non-government organisations also have resources to help parents and carers communicate with your child or young person:

More information

Below are quick links to help you better understand the blue card system, including:

We have also created the following resource for parents and carers: