Queensland’s ‘blue card’ system carefully regulates who is allowed to work with children. If you are charged with an offence and currently hold a blue card or plan to work with children in the future, it is important you consider any potential obstacles.
Who is required to hold a blue card?
Generally speaking, the answer is anyone who is employed or volunteers in a role that involves working with persons under the age of 18. Common industries where blue cards are required include schooling, sporting and child care.
However, registered teachers, police officers and registered health practitioners such as nurses and doctors are usually not required to hold a blue card.
What offences affect your eligibility for a blue card?
In truth, any offences in a person’s criminal history can be taken into account, regardless of whether a conviction was recorded. For the purposes of ‘working with children’ checks, there is no expiry on when dated offences can be taken into account.
There are two types of offences, being serious and disqualifying offences, that require special consideration. Each category is quite similar, involving serious violent and sexual offences. Queensland Government have provided helpful tables of serious and disqualifying offences on their blue card website.
Even if an offence is not a serious or disqualifying offence, it will attract special consideration if it directly or indirectly involves a child.
What happens when you are charged with an offence?
If you already hold a blue card and are charged with an offence, you are required to immediately notify your employer of your change in police information. This is done by completing the ‘change in police information notification’ form which is also signed by your employer before lodgment with Blue Card Services. You do not need to give your employer specific details about your charge or charges.
When you are charged with a disqualifying offence, your blue card will be immediately suspended pending the outcome of your matter in Court. Your suitability will then be reconsidered after it is finalised. However, if you are convicted of a disqualifying offence and are sentenced to a period of imprisonment (even if no actual time is served), you will remain ineligible to hold or apply for a blue card.
If your blue card is suspended after being charged but you are later found not guilty, it does not mean you will automatically be re-issued with a blue card. Blue Card Services will re-assess all available information.
In reality, most individuals who are charged with an offence while holding a blue card are not charged with serious or disqualifying offences. If you fall into this less serious category, Blue Card Services will assess all available information to decide whether a negative notice should be issued.
For those who don’t yet hold a blue card but are considering employment in an area that requires one, this information is still very important. If you are convicted of any offence, police will notify Blue Card Services when you make an application, even if a conviction wasn’t recorded. As such, it’s important to obtain advice about how your charge could affect a future application.
Appealing against a negative notice
You may appeal against a negative notice decision unless you are a disqualified person. You are treated as a disqualified person if you:
- Have been convicted of a disqualifying offence; or
- Are subject to a child protection offender prohibition order; or
- Are subject to a disqualification order made by a Court; or
- Are a reportable offender under the Child Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2004; or
- Are subject to a sexual offender order.
Appeals against a negative notice are heard in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) and must be lodged within 28 days of receiving a negative notice decision.
Get in touch with us today to discuss any questions about blue card applications or appeals.