Blue Card fail­ings ‘ put kids at risk’

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - SAM BIDEY

AL­MOST 3000 peo­ple with­out a Blue Card are work­ing with chil­dren in Queens­land as the State Gov­ern­ment’s “No Card, No Start” pol­icy is still more than a year away from be­com­ing re­al­ity.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Deb Freck­ling­ton said the LNP was call­ing for the Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment to speed up the in­tro­duc­tion of more strin­gent child safety laws but a spokes­woman for the At­tor­ney- Gen­eral, Yvette D’Ath, an­tic­i­pated the pol­icy would not be in­tro­duced un­til early 2020.

“There is a gap­ing loop­hole in the state’s Blue Card sys­tem and La­bor’s com­plete lack of any ur­gency to close it is putting Queens­land kids at risk,” Ms Freck­ling­ton said.

“It would send a shiver down the spine of ev­ery par­ent to think there are still al­most 3000 adults work­ing with chil­dren be­fore they’ve been through crit­i­cal back­ground checks.”

As of Novem­ber 5 there were 2917 peo­ple work­ing with chil­dren in Queens­land with­out a Blue Card; 1417 were new ap­pli­cants. The over­all num­ber is a sig­nif­i­cant de­crease from more than 5400 at the same time last year.

The Gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced the Work­ing with Chil­dren ( Risk Man­age­ment and Screen­ing) and Other Leg­is­la­tion Amend­ment Bill last month.

This Bill in­tends to leg­is­late the “No Card, No Start” pol­icy which the Bul­letin ex­clu­sively re­vealed the Gov­ern­ment had com­mit­ted to in­tro­duc­ing in the wake of a Townsville pri­mary school scan­dal.

Ms D’Ath’s spokes­woman said the new leg­is­la­tion must fol­low the ap­pro­pri­ate Par­lia- men­tary pro­cesses to en­sure that Queens­lan­ders were given the op­por­tu­nity to have a say and the bill un­der­went the scru­tiny of the Le­gal Af­fairs and Com­mu­nity Safety Com­mit­tee.

“With close to one in six Queens­land adults and over 32,000 or­gan­i­sa­tions part of the Blue Card sys­tem, it is vi­tal to en­sure the com­mu­nity is ready for the changes when they go live in early 2020,” she said.

“This will al­low for ap­pro­pri­ate plan­ning, stake­holder con­sul­ta­tion, busi­ness case devel­op­ment pro­cure­ment, data­base devel­op­ment and tech­ni­cal devel­op­ment test­ing ahead of its pub­lic launch.

“It is im­por­tant to note that ap­pli­cants are mon­i­tored on a daily ba­sis for changes in their Queens­land po­lice in­for­ma­tion even be­fore a de­ter­mi­na­tion has been made by Blue Card Ser­vices.”

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