Criminal histories haunting Blue Card hopefuls
SHOULD people with a criminal history be barred from working with young people if the offences committed were not against children?
It is a question often asked of Queensland's Blue Card system, which requires anyone working with children or young people to first undergo extensive checks, and one which was at the centre of three court applications in Brisbane last week.
They are among dozens of similar appeals before Queensland's Civil Administrative Tribunal in which people claim they have been unfairly hindered from gaining employment and taking part in community organisations and events.
For a 27-year-old Rockhampton woman, it was minor offences committed in Northern NSW which threatened to force her out of the family home where her parents were caring for foster children.
The tribunal heard the woman who had been victim to a traumatic sexual assault was suffering from mental health issues when she committed a domestic violence offence against her mother and was charged with obstructing and assaulting police officers.
At the Rockhampton home, police had to be called to de-escalate an argument which was witnessed by but did not involve the foster children.
A review of the incident led to the Department of Child Protection cancelling the couple's foster caring licence which they had held for more than 20 years.
The tribunal found that while the woman had achieved academic and sporting success and "clearly has an affinity with children and other vulnerable members of the community” there were risk factors which "outweigh the positive” and encouraged the woman to reapply after further addressing her mental health issues.
In Toowoomba, a 24-year-old man was forced to move out of his mother's home where his niece and nephew, who were under the care of Child Protection, were living.
He had previously been convicted of breaking into a home with a metal bar, common assault and wilful damage. The tribunal heard the charges stemmed from an event which followed the breakdown of a romantic relationship three years beforehand.
The man argued the "toxic” factor which led to the incident was no longer in his life and his family would suffer if he moved out. But the tribunal found that while the steps the man had taken to address his anger and abide by the law were "commendable”, they did "not take his circumstances out of the ordinary” and a Blue Card was refused.
An aspiring life-saver on the Gold Coast, who had previous convictions for drug trafficking was also refused.
Information about Blue Card requirements can be found at www.bluecard.qld.gov.au