Loop­hole puts kids at risk

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

HEAR­ING a teacher’s aide had al­legedly shown a naked photo of him­self to Townsville pri­mary school stu­dents was enough to send panic through the school com­mu­nity.

The in­ci­dent re­vealed how full- time staff were al­lowed to start work­ing with chil­dren while their Blue Card ap­pli­ca­tion was pend­ing. Most par­ents would have no idea this sloppy process was al­lowed to go unchecked. It took an ar­ti­cle in the

to ex­pose a loop­hole in the Blue Card child pro­tec­tion sys­tem — the very sys­tem which pro­vides peace of mind for par­ents who en­trust the care of their chil­dren to vir­tual strangers.

In this case, this em­ployee was al­lowed to work at the school with­out a Blue Card for five months. This is se­ri­ously dis­turb­ing.

But what’s more dis­turb­ing is that the Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment is only promis­ing to re­view this sys­tem if re- elected.

In the mean­time, what do par­ents do? Send their chil­dren to school and hope that ev­ery­one who works with their child has passed the rel­e­vant back­ground checks? That’s not good enough. Child safety must come be­fore pol­i­tics and this is­sue must be re­solved.

For the fam­i­lies whose young chil­dren were al­legedly ex­posed to this dis­gust­ing be­hav­iour in what should be a safe place of learn­ing — the Gov­ern­ment’s elec­tion pledge is too lit­tle, too late.

They don’t just want to hear the Gov­ern­ment will try to do bet­ter next time. They want those re­spon­si­ble to be pun­ished ap­pro­pri­ately and they want to know it will never, ever hap­pen again.

It’s dif­fi­cult to see how par­ents’ faith and trust in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem can be re­stored un­til this mat­ter is re­solved.

Even tak­ing into ac­count the fact these are, at this stage, mere al­le­ga­tions, it is hard to fathom how our lead­ers upon hear­ing them can do no bet­ter than un­der­take to take a look at the cause.

This loop­hole must be closed im­me­di­ately.

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