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The blue card system explained

Blue Card Services administers the blue card system—Queensland’s Working with Children Check.

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 child care, 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.

The blue card system is made up of 3 parts: screening, ongoing monitoring and risk management strategies.

Duration 13:23:00

Welcome to the Blue Card Services Online Information Session.

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we are recording this information session. We pay our respect to elders both past and present for their courage and leadership in advocating for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We also pay our respect to future elders and acknowledge the valuable role they play in shaping our future generations. We extend a special welcome to all First Nation peoples listening to this information session.

This video provides information on the overview of the blue card system.

So let's look at how it all works. There are 3 main parts or puzzle pieces of the blue card system which only work effectively when all 3 parts are together. The first piece of the puzzle is what we refer to as the past.

The blue card check is undertaken to determine a person's eligibility to work with children based on known police or disciplinary information.

It is important to note that the check doesn't assess a person's suitability to work with children.

Regardless of the type of application, whether it is a paid, volunteer or business application, all applications are screened the same way. The second piece of the puzzle is what we refer to as the present.

This section represents the daily monitoring and compliance processes within the blue card system. Applicants and card holders are monitored on a daily basis so that if their information changes, for example, if they were charged with a criminal offence, immediate steps can be taken to protect children from harm and/or review their eligibility to continue holding a blue card.

The final and important piece of the puzzle is the future. We know that safe environments don't just happen. They require planning, ongoing management and review. Child and youth risk management strategies are required to be developed and implemented by all organisations that provide services to children which fall within the scope of the blue card system.

Before we discuss these sections in more detail, it is important we look at the remaining piece of the puzzle, who needs a blue card?

And by this, we really mean who is eligible to apply for a blue card?

The blue card system is structured so that businesses and organisations providing services or conducting activities which are essential to children's development and well-being, such as child care, education, sport and cultural activities, are captured and require blue card screening.

It is important to be aware that the blue card system does not apply to every environment where a child may be present and not everyone needs a blue card.

Organisations cannot adopt a policy requiring individuals to obtain blue cards if they do not provide child-related services which fall within the scope of the blue card system. Under the No Card, No Start laws, a person can apply for a blue card without having to be engaged in child- regulated work. This is so they can be job ready.

However, there are certain people who cannot apply for a blue card or who are ineligible to apply.

These people are: disqualified persons, which means the person has been convicted of a disqualifying offence, such as rape or murder; negative notice holders, which means the person has been denied a blue card based on their known past police and disciplinary information.

There are now stricter requirements for people who rely on an exemption to work or volunteer with kids through the introduction of the terms 'restricted person', 'restricted employment' and associated offences.

There are also some exemptions that exist for certain people. Queensland teachers and police officers cannot apply for a blue card and must instead apply for an exemption card.

They only need an exemption card when they are working or volunteering with kids outside their professional duties.

For example, a teacher does not need an exemption card to teach in a school but would need an exemption card to privately tutor children's piano lessons.

Registered health practitioners do not need blue cards whilst working within their capacity as a health practitioner. If they are working or volunteering with children in a different role, they require a blue card. For example, a registered nurse who might coach a junior club netball team.

Further information to assist you to determine whether a person needs a blue card can be accessed on the Blue Card Services website or by watching 'Can I apply for a blue card?" and "Restricted person and restricted employment' video.

We will now discuss each piece in more detail. So let's look at the blue card check itself. The working with children check, also known as the blue card check, is a check that assesses: any national conviction, including spent convictions, and pending and non-conviction charges for an offence, even if no conviction was recorded; any national charge for an offence; disciplinary information held by certain professional organisations, including teachers, child care licensees and foster carers; information that the Police Commissioner may provide in relation to police investigations into allegations of serious child-related sexual offences, even if no charges were laid; if the person is a particular offender who has committed sexual or other particular serious offences against children and who is subject to an order to keep police informed about their whereabouts and other personal details for a period of time under the Child Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2004; if the person is the subject of an order made by the court which prohibits them from engaging in conduct which poses a risk to the lives or sexual safety of children under the Child Protection (Offender Prohibition Order) Act 2008.

For example, there may be restrictions imposed regarding who they can associate with, locations they can be or reside or employment types; if the person is the subject of an order made by a court prohibiting them from applying for a blue card; and if the person is a released former prisoner who has committed offences of a serious sexual nature and who is the subject of an order made by a court to detain or impose conditions on their release under the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003.

If a person does not return any police or disciplinary information, their application will be approved and they will be issued with a working with children clearance and a blue card or exemption card. Under the No Card, No Start laws, all cards will display the card holder's photograph.

If a person returns police or disciplinary information, this information will be assessed and a determination will be made as to whether or not it is in the best interests of children for the person to be issued with a blue card.

The assessment process ensures that natural justice is afforded to applicants through the submission process where a negative notice is proposed to be issued.

The submission process is the applicant's opportunity to respond to any adverse information of which Blue Card Services is aware before a final decision is made.

The most important consideration when making an employment screening decision is the safety and well-being of children and, in particular, a child's entitlement to be cared for in a way that protects them from harm and promotes their well-being.

If a person's application is refused, they are issued with a negative notice which prohibits them from working in child-related employment or carrying on a child-related business.

A person who is issued with a negative notice or has their blue or exemption card suspended is considered a restricted person and cannot engage in restricted employment.

If a person's application is approved, a blue or exemption card is issued. Organisations can learn more by watching the 'Managing high risk individuals for organisations' video. Now, let's take a look at the monitoring and compliance aspect of the blue card system.

Under the No Card, No Start laws, a person must have a valid blue card, no longer a pending application, before they can start working with children in regulated employment.

Before engaging a person in child-related work, an organisation must take reasonable steps to ensure a blue or exemption card belongs to the card holder. They can do this by checking the card holder's drivers licence or photograph on their blue card.

They must ensure the card holder is linked to their organisation. Linking a card holder to an organisation is a simple process that can be done by either submitting a 'Link a person to your organisation' form or using the Organisation Portal.

The police information of all blue card holders and applicants is monitored on a daily basis through an exchange of information between the Queensland Police Service and Blue Card Services.

Once Blue Card Services becomes aware of a change in police information, immediate steps can be taken to protect children from harm, which might include: suspending or cancelling a person's card; and notifying your organisation of any suspension or cancellation to a person's status and requiring them to be removed from child- related work or activities.

This is the reason why organisations must ensure all card holders are linked to them. It ensures that Blue Card Services can notify all organisations which are linked to the person's card if there is a change to a person's police information.

If your organisation hasn't told us that it has engaged the person, then we will not know to tell an organisation that the person is no longer eligible to work in child-related employment.

As such, there is a real risk that the organisation may continue to employ somebody who is not eligible to work with children which may result in a risk of harm to children in the service environment, as well as the organisation may be committing an offence for which penalties apply.

There are also other obligations under the blue card system which apply to organisations and individuals and we work to ensure that everybody involved with the blue card system is compliant.

You can find out more about obligations under the blue card system on our website and also by watching the 'Key obligations for organisations' and 'Key obligations for individuals' videos.

The final part to talk about is risk management strategies. Organisations falling within the scope of the blue card system must have policies and procedures which address 8 minimum requirements.

These requirements are: a statement of commitment; a code of conduct for interacting with children, procedures for recruiting, selecting, training and managing staff; procedures for handling disclosures or suspicions of harm, a plan for high-risk events, compliance with blue card requirements, including an employee register, managing breaches of the risk management strategy and communication of the strategy.

These strategies will assist organisations with identifying and minimising the risk of harm to children in their service environment.

You may have heard talk about National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. The national principles outline 10 elements that are fundamental to making an organisation safe for children.

Our 8 minimum requirements meet the 10 elements outlined in the national principles. Risk management strategies are monitored by Blue Card Services and must be reviewed at least on an annual basis and after any incidents to ensure that risks continue to be addressed and minimised throughout your organisation.

You can find out more about the specific requirements relating to risk management strategies and how to develop or improve your strategies on our website.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about the blue card system. We hope you found this video useful and we encourage you to watch the remaining videos on offer from the Blue Card Services YouTube channel.

For more information, visit our website, phone our call centre or send us an email.

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Blue card screening

The first part of the blue card system is the screening which is also known as the blue card check. This is to check if you are eligible to work with children.

Find out if you need a blue card before you apply.

The blue card check is more than a police check, it looks at:

  • a charge or conviction for any offence in Australia, even if no conviction was recorded (this includes spent convictions, pending and non-conviction charges)
  • child protection prohibition orders (both respondents and subjects to the application)
  • disqualification orders
  • reporting obligations under the Child Protection (Offender Reporting and Offender Prohibition Order) Act 2004 or Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003
  • disciplinary information from certain organisations (this includes information about teachers, child care licensees and foster carers)
  • police investigative information relating to allegations of serious child-related sexual offences, even if no charges were laid.

If your application is approved we will give you a blue card.

If your application is refused, we will not give you a blue card and you will not be able to work or volunteer with children. Before we make this decision, we may ask you for your side of the story through a submission. Find out more about the submissions process.

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Ongoing monitoring

We get updates from the Queensland Police Service each day. These updates let us know if there has been a change to an applicant or card holder’s police information. This means we can take immediate steps to protect children from harm.

We also monitor organisations and business operators to make sure they are complying with their obligations under the blue card system.

Find out what happens if there is a change to your police information.

Child and youth risk management strategies

Child-related organisations and people who run a child-related business need to have a child and youth risk management strategy. This strategy is to make sure your organisation is a safe place for children.

We have resources available to help you to create a child and youth risk management strategy.

Find out more about risk management.

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