Amendments introduced to strengthen operation of blue card laws

Published Thursday, 13 June, 2024 at 07:49 AM

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

  • Reforms have been introduced to Parliament to update working with children laws and support the operation of the blue card system 
  • Legislation will simplify and improve blue card requirements, and strengthen eligibility assessments to work with children
  • Kinship carers will no longer be required to hold a blue card when caring for kin

The Miles Government has introduced new legislation into Parliament to improve the operation of the blue card system and strengthen safeguards in the State’s working with children laws.

The reforms in the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024, reflect the Miles Government’s ongoing commitment to keeping children and young people safe.

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

The system checks and monitors people who work and volunteer in these activities and helps organisations to create safe environments for children.

The Bill expands who is required to hold a blue card, including people who deliver party, entertainment, beauty and photography services directed at children.

The proposed legislative amendments would implement a new fit-for-purpose decision-making framework that is more consistent with other jurisdictions. The new framework adopts nationally agreed criteria, which must be considered when a person returns information of concern. 

As part of its decision making, Blue Card Services, within the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, will be able to seek specialist knowledge and advice to assist in deciding a blue card application.

New powers have also been included to enable the suspension of a person’s card where there would be a risk to the safety of children if the person was allowed to continue to work during reassessment.

The proposed amendments are in response to recommendations from the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC), the former Legal Affairs and Safety Committee, and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The Bill will also implement the first stage of the Government’s response to the QFCC report, A thematic analysis of provisionally approved kinship carers who receive a subsequent blue card negative notice by removing the blue card requirement for kinship carers.

This will mean more children are able to be cared for by their families, supporting their connection to family, kin, community and culture.

The changed approach is particularly important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, who continue to be disproportionately represented in the child protection system.

A new fit-for-purpose screening framework will be developed to screen kinship carers to care for kin.

Further information about Queensland’s Working with Children Check system and legislation can be found here.

Quotes attributable to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Yvette D’Ath:

“Our State’s blue card system is one of the strongest and most longstanding in the nation, and we certainly won’t shy away from further improving its capabilities to protect our children.

“This Bill reflects our commitment to better protect children and sustain trust in the system with easy-to-use processes for all.

“Our goal is to provide robust and responsive protective measures, and a fair and thorough assessment for all blue card applicants.

“We want to make sure Queensland’s child protection system continues to operate to the highest standards.”

Quotes attributable to Child Safety Minister Charis Mullen:

“Kinship carers play a critical role in caring for children who need protection.

“We want to see children cared for by kin where appropriate, however this report shows the blue card screening process has sometimes created barriers. 

“It is important we get these changes right and we will work closely with stakeholders to ensure the new framework works for all kinship carers, children and families.

“This will deliver better outcomes for all families caring for family, and support more children being cared for by kin.”

Quotes attributed to QFCC Commissioner Natalie Lewis:

“Every Queensland child has the right to be raised safely in their culture, connected to kin and country. 

“These amendments are a necessary step to address the structural and systemic barriers that have disproportionately affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and disrupted the safe care, connection and cultural continuity of our children and young people. 

"These proposed changes support our collective commitment to promote and protect the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and uphold our enduring legal obligations—to make decisions in the best interests of children now and for the duration of that child’s life.

“This has been a longstanding issue raised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples right across Queensland, and I am pleased to see action taken today in response.

“This is an important step in reframing Queensland’s relationship with First Nations Peoples, and I look forward to working with government and the community to implement this critical reform once the legislation passes.”