Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath announced the State Government’s move to strengthen child safety legislation.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath announced the State Government’s move to strengthen child safety legislation.

Blue Card changes follow school scandal

MORE changes to strengthen child protection laws in Queensland have been made in the wake of a Townsville primary school sex scandal.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath yesterday announced the introduction of a new Bill legislating the "No Card, No Start" policy that then Education Minister Kate Jones committed to 12 months ago.

Ms Jones' promise came a month after a teacher's aide, who had been hired without a Blue Card, allegedly showed a naked photo of himself to three Year 4 boys at a Townsville primary school.

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

Ms D'Ath said Blue Cards were one of a range of measures in place across government to protect children.

"The 'No Card, No Start' approach - recommended by the Queensland Family and Child Commission - will require people working in paid employment to be issued with a Blue Card before they can start work with children, providing a stronger safeguard and building on the blue card system's long history of mitigating risks to children," Ms D'Arth said.

The Government will also implement recommendations from the Queensland Family and Child Commission to add to the list of criminal offences that would make someone disqualified from being able to obtain a Blue Card.

The parents of one of the alleged victims in the Townsville nude photo scandal were shocked to learn prior to these changes, murder and rape of an adult were not on the disqualifying offences list.

Bestiality, kidnapping of a child, kidnapping for ransom of a child, child stealing and abduction of a child under 16 will also be added to the list.

"I find it totally ridiculous that those sort of offences weren't put in that category from the start," the father said.

"All these changes are great but maybe if these changes were there from the start my family wouldn't be in the position it is now."

Child protection organisation Bravehearts' chair Hetty Johnson said she was confident no murderer would have managed to get a Blue Card in the past but it was good the charges had been added to the list of disqualifying offences.

Ms Johnson said the latest announcements showed progress in the State's improvements to child protection but that continued to be a slow process.

The opposition criticised the time it has taken to Government to implement change with LNP leader Deb Frecklington stating the protection of vulnerable kids should be a priority.

"It's disappointing that it's taken over a year for Annastacia Palaszczuk to amend blue card laws following the review handed down in September 2017," Ms Frecklington said.

"We've seen scandal after scandal and confirmation that thousands of Queenslanders have been working with children without a Blue Card."

It remains unclear when the No Card, No Start policy will come into practical effect as the Bill must now go through the legislative process.



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