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Blue card system review

This page explains the upcoming changes to the blue card system.

These changes have not started yet. Sign up to Blue Card News to stay up to date about these changes.

Important: People who have paid blue card applications in progress when the 'No Card, No Start' policy starts will be able to continue working while their applications are assessed.

Key changes

No Card, No Start policy

The No Card, No Start policy is a key part of how we are building a stronger, more streamlined blue card system.

No Card, No Start will mean that paid workers must have a blue card (not just a pending application) before they can work with children.

People with paid applications in progress when the policy starts will be able to continue working while their applications are assessed.

Volunteers, trainee students and people running regulated child-related businesses already need a blue card before they can start working with children.

To support the introduction of the No Card, No Start policy, we are working on a number of streamlining initiatives. Once finished, this will mean:

  • applicants will be able to apply online through a new process
  • organisations will be able to use an online organisation portal to manage their blue card records more easily.

Frequency test

People may not require a blue card if the regulated child-related work they are doing is infrequent.

The frequency test checks whether a person needs a blue card based on how much regulated work (paid or volunteer) they will do in a year. The frequency test will be changing.

After the change, people won’t need a blue card if their regulated child-related work is not more than 7 days in a calendar year.

If the regulated child-related work is more than 7 days, then a blue card will be needed.

For this test, a ‘day’ includes a full day or part of a day (e.g. 2 hours of work on 1 day is considered to be a day).

The 7-day frequency test only applies to volunteers, paid employees and students doing practical placements for their course.

There is no minimum frequency for people who run a regulated child-related business.

The 7-day frequency test will replace all other frequency tests.

For example:

  • A person invited to perform as a guest speaker at an event for 2 days in a calendar year will not need a blue card.
  • A person providing child accommodation or homestay services for 10 days in a calendar year will need a blue card.

30-day rule for expiring cards

Currently when a volunteer, student or business operator renews their blue card 30 days before their actual expiry date, we allow them to continue to work—even if we haven’t issued their new blue card by the time their previous card expires.

When the new laws start, you’ll be able to continue to work in paid employment, volunteer, run your business or undertake your student placement as long as you submit your renewal application before your current card expires.

If you don’t apply to renew your card before it expires, you will be subject to the No Card, No Start policy and will not be able to continue work until a new blue card has been issued.

Volunteer to paid transfer applications

When the No Card, No Start policy starts, there will be no change to the way we process volunteer to paid transfer applications.

If you hold a volunteer blue card and move into paid regulated child-related work, your card must be transferred to a paid card.

You will need to complete and submit a volunteer to paid employment transfer form and pay the application fee. You can start in paid work as soon as you have submitted this form.

As long as your eligibility has not changed (e.g. there is no change in your criminal history), a paid card will be issued. You can use the paid card for any other regulated child-related service—whether paid or unpaid.

Exemption cards for Queensland police and teachers

Police officers with the Queensland Police Service and teachers registered with the Queensland College of Teachers apply for exemption cards, not blue cards.

Currently, exemption cards have no expiry date. When the changes start, exemption cards will have expiry dates and will be valid for 3 years and then they will be cancelled if not renewed.

Existing exemption card holders whose cards do not have expiry dates printed on them will have 3 years to renew their existing exemption cards.

The No Card, No Start policy does not apply to exemption card applicants. Exemption card applicants can start in regulated child-related work as soon as their exemption card application form has been submitted to us.

Existing exemption card holders can start in new employment as soon as the employer links them to their organisation as an existing exemption card holder.

There are no fees for exemption card applications and renewals.

Changes in criminal history

Currently, when an applicant or card holder who is engaged in child-related work has a change in their police information, they must tell their employer there has been a change. They do not have to tell their employer what the change of police information is, only that there has been a change. The employer must then tell us.

Because every applicant and card holder is monitored by the Queensland Police Service on a daily basis, when the new laws start, applicants and card holders will no longer have to tell their employer when there has been a change in their police information and employers will no longer have to tell us.

Instead, applicants and card holders must immediately advise us if there has been a change in their police information. The maximum penalty for failing to report a change in police information is $13,345 (100 penalty units).

We will continue to notify employers of a change in police information, where appropriate.

The new changes do not remove any existing workplace requirements for employees to report a change in their police information to their employer. For example, an organisation may have a policy that requires all employees to report a change in their police information, such as a drink driving charge.

Restricted people and restricted employment

Under the current blue card system, there are exemptions that allow people to work with children without a blue card in certain circumstances.

To further strengthen protections for children, the new laws will restrict certain people from relying on current exemptions to work with children, in some circumstances.

In addition to the existing penalties for individuals, it will be an offence for a ‘restricted person’ to start or continue in ‘restricted employment’. The maximum penalty will be $66,725 (500 penalty units) or 5 years in prison.

It will also be an offence for an employer to employ or continue to employ a ‘restricted person’ in ‘restricted employment’ if they know (or should reasonably know) that they are a restricted person. The maximum penalty will be $26,690 (200 penalty units) or 2 years in prison.

Restricted person

A restricted person means a person who either:

Restricted employment

Restricted employment refers to the situations that allow a person to work with children without a blue card, such as if they are:

  • a volunteer parent
  • a volunteer who is under 18
  • paid or unpaid staff who work in regulated child-related employment for not more than 7 days in a calendar year
  • a consumer at a child-related service outlet where they also carry out work at the outlet.

A child-related service outlet is a place where disability services are provided to children.

Case studies—individuals

As a restricted person, you must not start or continue to work in restricted employment. If you currently work in restricted employment, you must immediately stop or you will be breaking the law and can be prosecuted.

If you are not sure if you are a restricted person, you can contact us for more information.

Scenario 1

A person who was convicted of a disqualifying offence in 1990 is now a parent of a child in primary school. They want to volunteer at their child’s school, reading with the students and working at the tuckshop.

Can they rely on the volunteer-parent exemption to attend the school and volunteer with reading and tuckshop?

No. They are considered a restricted person, because they were convicted of a disqualifying offence.

Restricted employment includes working in your child’s school as a volunteer parent.

Scenario 2

The parent of a child who plays under 8s football at the local club wants to coach their child’s team. When they previously applied for a blue card they received a negative notice. Can they rely on the volunteer-parent exemption because they are coaching their own child’s team?

No. They are considered a restricted person because they have been issued a negative notice.

Restricted employment includes volunteering as a parent within a sporting organisation.

Scenario 3

A 17-year-old student is completing a Certificate IV in fitness. They want to volunteer at the local high school, writing fitness programs for teenagers. They were charged with a disqualifying offence, which is waiting to be heard in court. Can they rely on the volunteer exemption to go into the school?

No. They are considered a restricted person because they have been charged with a disqualifying offence that has not been finalised.

Scenario 4

A person has been invited to attend a netball tournament as a guest umpire for a one-off event. They recently had their blue card suspended. As they would be a guest attending this one-off occasion (and not more than 7 days in a calendar year), can they rely on the exemption?

No. They are considered a restricted person because their blue card has been suspended. Although they are working not more than 7 days in a calendar year, they cannot rely on the exemption.

It is an offence for them to be engaged as a guest umpire in this restricted employment.

Case studies—organisations

You need to be proactive and take reasonable steps to ensure that you do not employ or continue to employ a restricted person in restricted employment.

You need to have policies and procedures in place to ensure they are not employed or do not continue to work in your organisation.

Scenario 1

I live in a small community and a young person aged 17, who attends my local church has told me that they want to volunteer at our youth group on a Friday night. They also told me that they were recently charged by police with some disqualifying offences that won’t be determined for some months due to the scheduling of the court hearing. As they do not need to have a blue card because they are a volunteer under 18 years of age, can my organisation still allow the young person to volunteer at the youth group?

No. The young person has been charged with a disqualifying offence that has not been finalised at court and therefore considered a restricted person and cannot rely on the volunteer exemption for individuals who are under 18.

Scenario 2

The junior sporting club volunteer coordinator is organising an end-of-year tournament and wants to use a guest umpire at the tournament as a one-off. The guest umpire mentions that their blue card has been suspended, but that they don’t need one because it is only a one-off event. Can the coordinator rely on the exemption?

No. The guest umpire is considered a restricted person because their blue card has been suspended. Although the guest umpire is not working more than 7 days in a calendar year, they cannot rely on the exemption for this person.

It would be an offence to engage this guest umpire in the restricted employment.

Resources

These changes have not started yet. We are developing resources to help your organisation with these changes when they start.

Sign up to Blue Card News to get these resources when they become available.