The Queensland Government has recently introduced changes to the Blue Card system which became effective on 31 August 2020. These changes will impact applicants, card holders and organisations.
No Card, No Start
The no card, no start rule means that you must have a valid Blue Card before you can start working with children. You are no longer permitted to work with children while your application is being assessed.
This rule also applies to those with expiring Blue Cards. If your Blue Card has expired, you must wait until your new Blue Card has been approved before working with children.
This rule does not apply to exemption card holders.
Consequently, if you made a Blue Card application after 31 August 2020, you must wait until it has been approved before you can start work. However, if you submitted a paid application prior to 31 August 2020, this new rule will not apply to you and you can continue working while your application is being assessed.
Changes in your Police Information
This new rule requires applicants and card holders to immediately notify the Queensland Government if there are any changes to your police information.
A change in police information includes: –
- Any charge or conviction for an offence;
- Any police investigative information relating to allegations of serious child-related sexual offences, even if no charges were laid;
- Any application for a disqualification order against you;
- Being a respondent to an application for offender prohibition order under the Child Protection (Offender Reporting and Offender Prohibition Order) Act 2004;
- Becoming subject to reporting obligations or a child protection offender prohibition order under the Child Protection (Offender Reporting and Offender Prohibition Order) Act 2004 or a disqualification order or a sexual offender order.
You must notify the Queensland Government using the change in police information form available on their website. If you do not report a change in your police information to the Queensland Government, you are guilty of an offence and liable for a maximum penalty of $13,345.00 (100 penalty units).
These reporting requirements do not apply to employers as they are no longer required to notify the Queensland Government when their employee’s police information changes.
Restricted Person and Restricted Employment
The Queensland Government has introduced two new terms – Restricted Person and Restricted Employment. The introduction of these terms will make it harder for people to rely on the current exemptions which would otherwise allow them to work or volunteer with children without holding an approved Blue Card.
A Restricted Person is somebody who has been convicted of a disqualifying offence, issued with a negative notice, has had their blue or exemption card suspended or has been charged with a disqualifying offence and the matter has not been finalised.
Restricted Employment refers to workplaces where a person can work without holding an approved Blue Card if they are a volunteer parent, a volunteer who is under 18, paid or unpaid staff who work in regulated child-related employment for not more than 7 days in a calendar year, and a consumer at a child-related service outlet where they also carry out work at the outlet.
If you are a Restricted Person, you must not gain employment in Restricted Employment. If you do, you are guilty of an offence and liable for a maximum penalty of $66,725.00 (500 penalty units) or 5 years in prison.
If you are an employer in Restricted Employment, you must not employ or continue to employ a Restricted Person. If you do, you are guilty of an offence and liable for a maximum penalty of $26,690.00 (200 penalty units) or 2 years in prison.
The Queensland Government has introduced a new frequency test. The frequency test applies to volunteers, paid employees, and students but does not apply to business operators or Restricted Persons.
If you are working or volunteering with children for no more than 7 calendar days per year, you will not be required to obtain a Blue Card. However, if it is more than 7 days, you will need to make an application to obtain a Blue Card.
In Queensland, Police Officers and Teachers registered with the Queensland College of Teachers are exempt from obtaining a Blue Card for work. Exemptions cards held by police Officers and teachers now have an expiry date of three years. If you hold an exemption card which doesn’t contain an expiry date, you will need to renew it by 31 August 2023.