Risky Queenslanders allowed to work with kids
A BAN on Queenslanders with criminal records obtaining a blue card to work with children appears off the table, despite revelations they have been given to child abusers and drug addicts.
An investigation by The Courier-Mail found people rejected by the justice department for a blue card, successfully appealed to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal to get one.
The investigation shows the tribunal overturned one-in-every-four bans in the past six years, with blue cards given to a former ice addict, a drug-and-drink driver who killed another motorist, and two mothers accused of assaulting their own children.
Anyone convicted and jailed for serious child sex offences, the murder of a child, or offences related to child exploitation material are banned from obtaining blue cards.
But other criminals, including drug dealers, armed robbers and wife bashers, can get one if their cases are deemed exceptional and authorities do not believe there's a risk to children.
The revelations would send shock waves to every parent in the state, the Queensland LNP opposition said.
It has called for the urgent implementation of a raft of recommended changes in a state government review last year, including expanding the list of crimes that would automatically exclude someone from obtaining a blue card.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander raised the murder of 12-year-old Tiahleigh Palmer by her foster father Rick Thorburn as an example of children being at risk.
"Children in Queensland remain at risk because of a flawed blue card system," he told reporters on Monday.
"If the policies and guidelines are tighter and stricter, it will make it more difficult for any judicial overturn."
But he stopped short of calling for an outright ban on anyone with a criminal record obtaining a blue card.
"There's no doubt there's degrees of severity regarding criminal acts," Mr Mander said.
Child safety campaigner and Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston says the rules about who can obtain blue cards aren't strict enough.
A spokeswoman for Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said work to implement the reforms was well underway.
A Blue Card Services spokeswoman told the paper the QCAT appeals process was about providing "natural justice".
She said police monitor the criminal records of blue card applicants and cardholders, and they can be suspended or cancelled.