TOO LITTLE TOO LATE
Pupils at risk from Blue Card failure
THE State Government has promised to close a disturbing loophole which allowed a teacher’s aide, who allegedly showed Townsville primary school students a naked photo of himself, to gain employment without a Blue Card.
But for the family of an al- leged victim, Labor’s election pledge is too late. Police allege a teacher’s aide, who was employed despite not holding a Blue Card, showed a naked image of himself to three Year 4 boys.
Education Minister Kate Jones has announced Labor would adopt a “No Card, No Start” policy.
This would close a loophole which allows full- time staff to start work while their Blue Card is pending.
The parent of one of the alleged victims welcomed news the problem was being addressed but questioned how such a loophole was even allowed to exist.
“This should have happened a long time ago,” the mother said. “I thought that’s what Blue Cards were all about. I thought you had to have one before you could be employed to work with kids.
“If this law was in place before ( the alleged incident) my son wouldn’t have gone through what he did. Right now he’s a completely different little boy... he’s scarred.”
The Bulletin understands the alleged offender, who faces three counts of exposing a child under 16 to an indecent image, had told the school he was in the process of applying for a Blue Card when he was employed in May.
The alleged offence was on October 19, five months after the accused was hired. A Blue Card Services spokesman said standard applications, with no police queries, were aimed to be finalised within 28 days. The spokesman said under the current system paid employees at schools must have applied for a Blue Card before starting any child- related duties. A week after the alleged incident Ms Jones announced she would oversee a review into the matter and how the teacher’s aide was hired without a Blue Card.
The proposed change to close the loophole allowing Blue Card applicants to be employed followed recommendations from that review.
“Historically, this has been a useful option for employers who have difficulty recruiting staff to rural and remote areas,” Ms Jones said.
“But as we modernise the application process and begin developing an online system, this is no longer necessary.
“It’s far more important that we close any loopholes that might result in harm to our children.”
Ms Jones said the Queensland Family and Child Commission Blue Card Review, released in September, found Queensland had one of the strongest Blue Card systems in the country.
However, the Government agreed with recommendations to modernise the application system, increase the number of people who require Blue Cards, and broaden the range of offences that automatically exclude applicants.
No one from the school nor the Education Department has been stood down despite calls from alleged victims’ parents for sackings.