Keeping sport and recreation safe

In Queensland, the sport and recreation industry have obligations to protect children and adults from harm through the provision of safe environments.

Your organisation needs to consider which obligations apply:

Blue Card System

The blue card system regulates activities to create safe environments for children through:

  • blue card screening
  • ongoing monitoring
  • child and youth risk management strategies.

A person is required to hold a blue card if their work relates to sport or active recreation and includes providing services to children or conducting activities with children. Exemptions may apply in some circumstances.

Organisations and people who run businesses regulated by the blue card system must have a child and youth risk management strategy.

Child safe organisations

The National Principles for Child Safe Organisations provide a consistent approach to creating organisational cultures that foster child safety and wellbeing.

The National Principles are:

  1. Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture.
  2. Children and young people are informed about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.
  3. Families and communities are informed and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing.
  4. Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice.
  5. People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice.
  6. Processes to respond to complaints and concerns are child focused.
  7. Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training.
  8. Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed.
  9. Implementation of the national child safe principles is regularly reviewed and improved.
  10. Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.

These principles are based on the Child Safe Standards arising from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses for Child Sexual Abuse.

Learn more about the National Principles and the tools and resources available to help create a child safe organisation.

Mandatory reporting

Queensland law has been strengthened to increase protection of children from the risk of sexual abuse. The offences target behaviour that ignores or hides the sexual abuse of children:

  • failure to report: All adults in the community that reasonably believe (or should reasonably believe) that a child is being or has been the victim of sexual abuse must report it to the police – unless they have a reasonable excuse.
  • failure to protect: Adults in an institutional setting (including sport and recreation clubs) must protect children from the risk of a sexual offence being committed against them.

Adults in positions of power or responsibility within an institution that has children in its care, supervision and control will be required to reduce or remove a known risk of sexual offending against a child by an adult associated with an institution. How an adult can remove or reduce risk will depend on the situation. Adults should not have to adopt unnecessarily expensive or risk-averse behaviour.

Find out more about these offences and what you need to do.

Civil liability of institutions

Legislative changes make it easier for child abuse survivors to pursue a claim for personal injury damages arising from the abuse. The reforms are in response to the recommendations by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The changes include:

  • Institutions are now subject to a new statutory duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent abuse of a child in their care, control, supervision or authority. The responsibility is on the institution to demonstrate that it has taken all reasonable steps to prevent the abuse.
  • Certain limitation periods have been removed for survivors to commence court proceedings for damages for personal injury relating to child sexual abuse, serious child physical abuse and psychological abuse connected with child sexual abuse and serious child physical abuse.
  • A statutory framework has been established to deal with institutional liability, including in relation to the transfer of liability against defunct institutions to the relevant successor of the institution.
  • Institutions can apologise to survivors of child abuse without it being considered an admission of liability.

The legislative changes are complex. Institutions may want to seek legal advice about the implications of the changes including consideration of current record keeping practices.

Industry requirements

Your organisation may have additional obligations if they are affiliated with a State and/or National Level Organisation. They may be required to have specific policies such as member protection or child protection.

Contact your affiliated State and/or National Level Organisation to find out more about your obligations.

Human Rights

The Human Rights Act 2019 requires Queensland public entities to act and make decisions which are compatible with the 23 human rights it protects. The Act makes it clear that rights can be limited but only where it is reasonable and justifiable. A person can make a complaint to the Queensland Human Rights Commission if their human rights have been limited by a public entity.

The Queensland Human Rights Commission has information about trans and gender diverse participation in school sport and gender segregation in sport. It also has a range of resources including case studies, guides, toolkits and fact sheets.

National Redress Scheme

The Australian Government developed the National Redress Scheme for people who were sexually abused as children in institutional settings.

The Queensland Government joined the National Redress Scheme in November 2018. A number of sport and recreation institutions have also joined. Find out which institutions have joined the scheme.

The Queensland Government encourages institutions to join the National Redress Scheme. Institutions may wish to discuss joining the Scheme with their affiliated State/National Level Organisation and/or Peak Body, where appropriate.

Learn more about the support services and resources available.


  • QSport is the industry peak body for sport in Queensland.
  • Outdoors Queensland is the industry peak body for the outdoors and outdoor activities in Queensland.
  • Sport Australia is responsible for driving greater participation, engagement and capability in Australian Sport.
  • Sport Australia invests in national sporting organisations and focuses on improving the capability of sporting organisations to create an effective and sustainable national sport sector.
  • The Sport Australia Game Plan is designed to assist organisations in identifying their capability and connecting them with tools and resources to support ongoing development.
  • Play by the rules provides free online resources to the Australian sports sector, covering topics such as child safety, bullying, discrimination and harassment.
  • Sport Integrity Australia is a newly formed organisation combining the functions of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, National Integrity of Sport Unit and the nationally focused integrity functions of Sport Australia.
  • The National Integrity Framework is a suite of policies that sets out the broad expectations for the conduct of all participants in sport including safeguarding children and member protection.