Blue card system statistics
The data on this page is for the 2020–21 financial year. It provides information about:
- the size of the blue card system in Queensland
- the strength of the safeguards it provides to children
- the support we provide to applicants, employers and community groups to increase blue card system participation
- our focus on increasing compliance to create safe environments for children.
Size of the blue card system
There are 875,764 current links between employers and card holders / applicants in the blue card system. One card holder or applicant can be linked to more than one employer or volunteer organisation at a time.
Currently, 834,402 people are blue card holders and 14,085 people are applicants.
Safeguards for children
We contribute to a safer and more secure Queensland for children through:
To help keep children in Queensland safe, the blue card system stops certain people upfront from holding or applying for a blue card.
Our blue card screening involves a comprehensive check of whether there is any known criminal history or other information that raises concern about a person working with children. Where concerning information is identified, we undertake an assessment to determine if the person is eligible to work with children.
This process prevents people from working with children in regulated child-related environments if their past behaviour indicates that they are unable to protect a child from harm and promote their wellbeing.
Did you know?
This year we actioned 3,552 cases which resulted in individuals being prevented from working with children.
Another important safeguard for Queensland children is the No Card, No Start laws, which mean all people working with children are screened before they can start child-related work.
To make this easier, people can now apply for and renew their blue cards using an online service, modernising the previously paper-based system.
Online applicants with no police or disciplinary information are usually approved for a blue card within a few days.
Between 31 August 2020 and 30 June 2021, online applications have been processed within:
Paper forms can take longer to process because they require manual entry and are impacted by peak processing periods.
Between 31 August 2020 and 30 June 2021, the processing times for paper applications and all applications (regardless of the mode of submission) were:
There are a number of factors that can impact our processing times, some of which are out of our control.
Unlike a one-off police check, the blue card system provides ongoing protection to children and young people through daily monitoring of all blue card applicants and card holders for changes to their Queensland criminal history.
This is a critical component of the system, allowing us to take steps to protect children from harm when a person is charged with offences relevant to child-related employment.
It is therefore essential for employers to link a blue or exemption card holder to their organisation before starting them in regulated employment. This ensures the organisation will receive important notifications about the person’s blue card status, including if the card is suspended or cancelled.
All people and organisations regulated by the blue card system must comply with their blue card obligations, such as the legislative requirement for organisations to develop child and youth risk management strategies to mitigate risks of harm to children and young people in their service environments. This includes policies for recruiting, selecting, training, and managing employees and volunteers.
We engage directly with individuals and employers to ensure they are compliant and supported in providing safe environments for children.
If we identify a breach of blue card system obligations, we can refer the matter to police.
Where possible, our activities focus on helping organisations and individuals comply with their obligations under the blue card system and reduce risks of harm to children.
We have developed an organisation portal to help employers and volunteer organisations keep track of their blue card obligations and records.
Compliance activities include:
- educating and directing organisations and individuals to comply with specific requirements under the blue card system
- ensuring organisations have a child and youth risk management strategy in place that covers the 8 mandatory requirements
- checking that organisations have actioned our notifications that certain individuals cannot work with children.
Focus on compliance
As of 31 August 2020, it is an offence for a restricted person to rely on an exemption from screening to provide services to children. We conducted over 6,000 reviews with organisations to raise awareness of and compliance with the new requirements.
The online organisation portal that launched in 2020 has also increased levels of compliance, because organisations can now view and update their blue card records in real time.
- In 2019–20, we gave 565 organisations a copy of their employee register, containing point-in-time data.
- By comparison, the 6,145 organisations registered to use the portal as at 30 June 2021 can now access and action this information at any time.
Our ongoing partnership with the Queensland Police Service saw 92% of prosecutions for breaching blue card laws successfully result in convictions. This includes penalties like a $5,000 fine for a negative notice holder who tried to apply for a blue card.
Education and resources
Queenslanders now recognise that we all have an important role to play in protecting our children.
Our education activities help individuals and organisations foster safer service environments by:
- increasing understanding of who needs a blue card and how to apply
- helping people and organisations meet their blue card obligations
- working with organisations to educate them about their risk management requirements.
Supporting our stakeholders
Despite the many challenges of 2020–21, we continued to support our stakeholders, particularly with the law changes. We:
- received 157,003 calls
- responded to 77,230 emails
- assisted 4,101 customers in person at our office.
Like many organisations, we changed the way we deliver our information sessions, delivering online lunch and learn webinars to 2,925 stakeholders.
Our diverse contact centre team delivered online information sessions in 4 additional languages for our culturally and linguistically diverse stakeholders.
We created a suite of how-to videos to help stakeholders use our new online services, including how to register for an online account and use the online applicant portal.
In 2020–21, 90% of stakeholders indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied when surveyed about their experience applying for a blue card.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community participation
We are committed to supporting the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities in the blue card system. We do this through:
- directly helping applicants with the application and assessment process through our dedicated team of professionals, including identified community liaison officers
- conducting remote community visits that give applicants and service providers information and support
- providing education through our monthly yarning circles, newsletter and other resources.
Where a person applying for a blue card has prior criminal history or other concerning information, we may invite them to make a submission to support their eligibility to hold a blue card. These submissions allow applicants to tell their story and address any potential risks of harm to children raised by their prior criminal history.
Historically, where an applicant was not able to engage with the blue card system and did not respond to our requests for submissions, their application would either be withdrawn or a negative notice would be issued.
The support our team gives applicants in discrete communities is producing positive results, which means better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, organisations and their communities.
Support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
The blue card mob is committed to engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants with a specific focus towards applicants living in remote communities. We are proud to say we have visited 20 remote communities in the past year.
Our work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants has helped increase participation in the system. Blue cards have been issued to 92% of applicants this financial year, an increase from 86% in the previous period.
We also supported a collaborative agency initiative coordinated by Cape York Employment. Known as ‘the Muster’, where government agencies together visit remote communities to provide a one-stop-shop for community members who need help with these services. Other participating agencies have included:
- Indigenous Drivers Licencing Unit from the Department of Transport and Main Roads
- Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
- Department of Housing
In March 2021, 120 community members attended the Muster in Aurukun, resulting in direct assistance being given to 37 blue card applicants. The event received such positive feedback that another visit to Aurukun took place in May 2021 and other events are scheduled for other communities.
We started a blue card yarning circles webinar in 2021. These webinars give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders a culturally appropriate forum to discuss their blue card needs.
We are also promoting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, who can provide community support through the application, assessment, appeals and complaints process.