How does the blue card system work in Queensland?
The purpose of the blue card system is to contribute to the creation of safe and supportive environments for children when receiving services and participating in activities which are essential to their development and wellbeing such as child care, education, health, counselling and support, sport and cultural activities.
The blue card system has three critical components which manages risks of harm to children:
- a requirement for regulated organisations to ensure that individuals providing services to children undergo a blue card check which prevents high risk individuals from providing services to children
- monitoring the criminal histories of blue card applicants and holders and the levels of compliance by regulated organisations with their blue card system requirements, and
- a legislative requirement for regulated organisations to develop, implement and regularly review risk management strategies to identify and minimise the potential risks of harm to children.
Chapter 8 of the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 (the WWC Act) sets out the blue card system requirements and Schedule 1 Parts 1 and 2 outline the various categories of employment (which includes paid and voluntary work) and business regulated under the system.
What is the blue card check?
To obtain a blue card, a person must submit an application form and undergo employment screening or the blue card check. The blue card check is a check that assesses:
- any national charge or conviction for an offence (even if no conviction was recorded)
- child protection prohibition orders (whether a person is a respondent or subject to an application)
- disqualification orders
- if a person is subject to reporting obligations under the Child Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2004 or Dangerous Prisoner (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003
- disciplinary information held by certain professional organisations including teachers, child care licensees and foster carers, and
- 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.
After an applicant has undergone the blue card check, Blue Card Services generally issues either:
- a positive notice letter and a blue card if an applicant does not have any police or disciplinary information which suggests that they are not eligible to work with children; or
- a negative notice if an applicant has police or disciplinary information that suggests that they are not eligible to work with children. Negative notice holders are prohibited from working in regulated employment or carrying on a regulated business. Penalties apply.
Certain people are disqualified upfront from applying for a blue card. It is an offence for a 'disqualified person' to apply for a blue card. Penalties of up to 5 years imprisonment or a fine of up to $55,000 may apply if a 'disqualified person' signs a blue card application form.
A person is disqualified if they:
- have been convicted of a disqualifying offence (including a child-related sex or child-related pornography offence, or murder of a child) or
- are a reportable offender with current reporting obligations, or
- are subject to a child protection offender prohibition order, or
- are subject to a sexual offender order, or
- are subject to a disqualification order from a court prohibiting them from applying for, or holding a blue card.
For more information on who is a 'disqualified person', see the Blue Card Services website or telephone the Blue Card Services contact centre.
Categories of regulated employment
Regulated employment is any agreement to work, either in a paid or voluntary capacity in child-related work that falls or is likely to fall within the scope of one of the following categories under the Act:
- Residential facilities
- Schools - Boarding facilities
- Schools - Employees other than teachers and parents
- Child care services and similar employment
- Education and care services and similar employment
- Churches, clubs and associations involving children
- Health, counselling and support services
- Private teaching, coaching and tutoring
- Education programs conducted outside of schools
- Child accommodation services, including home stays
- Religious representatives
- Sport and active recreation
- Emergency services cadet programs
- School crossing supervisors
- Care of children under the Child Protection Act 1999
Exemptions from blue card screening apply in relation to certain categories of child regulated exployment. An exemption from screening requirements in relation to one category does not mean that a person will be exempt in relation to another category.
Who can apply for a blue card?
Employers, volunteer coordinators and education providers are responsible for applying for blue cards on behalf of their employees, volunteers or trainee students.
When can I commence work?
Volunteers and trainee students must hold the blue card before they carry out work in regulated employment regardless of how often they come into contact with children and young people. However, a paid employee may commence their regulated employment while their application has been lodged with Blue Card Services.
Further information about the individual categories of regulated employment and exemptions is available on the Blue Card Services website.
Categories of regulated business
A person carries on a regulated business if the activities of the business fall or are likely to fall within the scope of one of the following categories under the Act.
- Health, counselling or support services
- Private teaching, coaching or tutoring
- Child care services and similar businesses
- Education and care services and similar businesses
- Education programs outside of schools
- Religious representatives
- Child accommodation services, including home stays
- Sport and active recreation
- Hostels for children other than residential facilities
- Businesses relating to licensed care services under the Child Protection Act 1999, and
- Non-state schools - directors of governing bodies and authorised persons.
A service or activity provided by a person may be considered to be a business irrespective of whether the service or activity provided is for profit or not for profit.
Exemptions from blue card screening apply in relation to certain categories of child-related regulated business. An exemption from screening requirements in relation to one category does not mean that a person will be exempt in relation to another category.
A licence defines the need to obtain recognition / certification and registration to undertake a certain business activity.
Definition of terms
Section 36 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1954 defines a child as an individual who is under the age of 18.
- Disciplinary information
Information received by Blue Card Services;
- under the repealed Child Care Act 2002 , section 50A or 107A; or
- under the Education and Care Services Act 2013, section 19 or 200; or
- under the Education and Care Services National Law (Queensland) Act 2001, section 20 or 21; or
- under the Education and Care Services National Law (Queensland) Act 2001, section 271; or
- under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 140A; or
- under the Education (Queensland College of Teachers) act 2005, section 285, or the repealed Education (Teacher Registration) Act 1988, section 71B; or
- under the Education (Queensland College of Teachers) act 2005, section 285A in relation to a matter mentioned in subsection (1)(a)(ii) to (v) of that section; or
- under the repealed Health Practitioners (Disciplinary Proceedings) Act 1999, section 384A.
- Disqualified person
1. A person is a disqualified person if they:
a) have been convicted of a disqualifying offence (including a child related sex or pornography
offence, or murder of a child); or
b) are subject to:
i. offender reporting obligations; or
ii. an offender prohibition order; or
iii. a disqualification order; or
iv. a sexual offender order.
However, a person to whom subsection (1) (a) applies is not a disqualified person if the person has been issued an eligibility declaration and the eligibility declaration has not expired.
- Disqualifying offence
A disqualifying offence is an offence against a provision of an Act mentioned in the WCC Act schedule 4 or 5, column 1, subject to any qualification relating to the provision mentioned opposite in column 3.
A disqualifying offence also includes:
a) an offence of counselling or procuring the commission of a disqualifying offence, or
b) an offence of attempting, or of conspiring, to commit a disqualifying offence, or
c) an offence that has, as an element intention to commit a disqualifying offence, or
d) an offence that, at the time it was committed was an offence now categorised as a disqualifying offence, or
e) any offence under a law of another jurisdiction that, if it had been committed in Queensland, would have constituted a disqualifying offence.
- Eligibility declaration
a declaration issued by the Blue Card Services stating that a person is not a disqualified person and is eligible to sign a blue card application form.
A person is employing another person if there is an agreement with the other person to carry out work, irrespective of the nature of that work and regardless of the following:
a) whether the agreement is written or unwritten; and
b) whether the work is carried out voluntarily or for financial reward; and
c) what a persons motivation is for carrying out the work; and
d) the time for which the person is engaged to carry out the work; and
e) whether the agreement provides for the person to carry out work on one occasion or on an ongoing basis, whether regularly or irregularly.
For further information see the WWC Act.
- Imprisonment order
Means either of the following orders:
a) an order of a court that convicts a person for an offence, if the order includes a penalty that includes imprisonment for the offence, whether wholly or partially suspended;
b) an intensive correction order under the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 or an order of another jurisdiction that substantially corresponds to an intensive correction order; but
c) does not include an order of imprisonment that is imposed as a consequence of a breach of a community service order or probation order within the meaning of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992.
- Investigative information
Information gathered by the Queensland Police Service as part of an investigation into an alleged offence, which did not result in the matter proceeding to a charge against a person.
Strict parameters have been set around the type of investigative information that may be forwarded by the Police Commissioner to Blue Card Services. These are:
- that there is or was evidence of acts or omissions that constituted a serious child related offence;
- that the police investigated the alleged offence;
- that the applicant was formally notified by being asked to participate in an interview, by participating in an interview, or otherwise being given the opportunity to answer the allegations;
- that there was sufficient evidence available capable of establishing each element of the alleged offence; and
- despite the above criteria, a decision was made not to charge the person because the complainant died before the charge was brought, or the complainant was unwilling to proceed, or the complainant's parent or guardian decided that in the interests of the complainant, the matter should not proceed.
- Minimum threshold test (applicable to paid employees only)
Paid employees who work with children and young people must hold a blue card if their work falls into a category of regulated employment and they work, or are likely to work, over a period of 12 months for at least:
8 consecutive days; or
once a week for each week during a period of four weeks; or
once a fortnight for each fortnight during a period of 8 weeks; or
once a month for each month during a period of 6 months.
- Relevant disqualified person
A person who has been or is convicted of a disqualifying offence for which they were sentenced to a term of imprisonment. It also incudes a person who is subject to:
- reporting obligations under the Child Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2004, or
- a child protection prohibition order, or
- a disqualification order, or
- a sexual offender order.
- Trainee student
a trainee student, of an education provider, means a person undertaking a course of study with the education provider.
A volunteer is a person who is employed by another person and does not carry out any work for the other person for a financial reward.
Financial reward does not include:
a payment that is a reimbursement for out of pocket expenses; or
for a person who is an approved carer, an allowance or other amount paid to the person under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 159.
A positive notice blue card is valid for three years, unless cancelled or suspended earlier.
Negative Notice Holders
A person issued with a negative notice is prohibited from working in the particular categories of employment/business regulated by the WWC Act for a period of two years. After expiration of two years they may apply to have the Negative Notice cancelled.
Employers also have an obligation to ensure that paid employees and volunteers with a negative notice or suspended blue card do not continue working in regulated employment and ensure they have appropriate risk management strategies in place to protect the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in their regulated service environment.
If you are a new blue card applicant or are seeking to renew your blue card application forms are available from the forms page on the Blue Card Services website.
If you already have a current blue card or exemption card you must advise Blue Card Services if you commence any new regulated child-related employment or volunteer work.
If you already hold a volunteer card (and did not pay the prescribed application fee) and you are moving into regulated paid employment or business, you must transfer your blue card and pay the prescribed application fee.
Application forms and other information about the blue card can be obtained by visiting the Blue Card Services website.
If you do not have access to the internet, you can telephone the Blue Card Contact Centre.
Applications may be submitted via mail, facsimile or hand delivered to the Brisbane office.
If you are a disqualified person, it is an offence for you to submit a blue card application form. A disqualified person may apply to Blue Card Services for an 'eligibility declaration' form and in very limited and defined circumstances may be declared eligible to apply for a blue card.
Blue Card Services will send a renewal notice to the cardholder approximately 10 weeks prior to the expiry date of the card. If the cardholder provided a mobile phone number, they will receive the reminder notice via text message, unless they have elected not to receive text messages. If the cardholder has not provided a mobile phone number, or has opted out of text message notifications, they will receive the courtesy renewal reminder by a letter sent to their postal address. It is therefore important that a cardholder notify Blue Card Services of any change in their contact details.
Paid employees must submit their renewal application to Blue Card Services prior to their blue card's expiry date in order to continue in child-related work, even if their blue card expires before a new card is issued.
Volunteers, trainee students and persons carrying on a regulated business must submit their renewal application to Blue Card Services at least 30 days prior to their blue card's expiry, to continue in child-related work.
You cannot transfer a blue card to another person. Your blue card is however fully transferrable across all areas of employment and business regulated by the WWC Act.
Paid employees and business operators
Paid employees and business operators are able to use their blue cards for all regulated child-related categories, including volunteer work. They must advise Blue Card Services of all regulated child-related work for which they are using their blue card. This is done by submitting the 'Authorisation to confirm a valid card/application' form.
This enables Blue Card Services to hold up to date employer details so that all relevant employers can receive important updates about any changes to the status of a person's blue card or exemption notice, for example, if their blue card is suspended or cancelled following a change in their police information.
Volunteers are able to use their Volunteer (V) blue card across all unpaid regulated child-related work categories.
Volunteers must advise Blue Card Services of all regulated child-related work for which they are using their blue card. This is done by submitting the Authorisation to confirm a valid card/application form.
If you hold a volunteer blue card and propose to undertake paid work, you must submit a Volunteer to Paid employment transfer form and pay the prescribed fee. You will be issued with a new paid (P) blue card with an additional three years validity.
Forms are located on the Blue Card Services website.
Obligations of blue card applicants and holders
The WWC Act places obligations on applicants and card holders.
Failure to comply with these obligations may attract penalties
You must notify the Blue card Services if any of the following change:
- contact details, including postal or residential address, phone and email details
- employment circumstances (such as starting a new job or no longer working with an organisation)
- personal information (such as a name change due to marriage/divorce)
- if you stop working in child-regulated employment.
Information on how to notify changes to Blue Card Services, and the relevant forms where applicable, are available on the Blue Card Services website.
Change in police information
Blue Card Services constantly monitors police information of all blue card holders and applicants and if a relevant change occurs that might affect your eligibility to work with children, then your application or status as a card holder will be reassessed.
You must immediately notify Blue Card Services and your employer if there is a change in your police information.
Please note that you do not have to provide the details of any offence/s to your employer, only that a change has occurred.
The form to notify of a change in police information is available on the Blue Card Services website.
Public Safety Business Agency
Blue Card Services
Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 (Queensland)
Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Regulation 2011 (Queensland)
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