Policy Working with Children Check (Blue Card) Procedure

Working with Children Check (Blue Card) Procedure


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Intent

This Procedure outlines how the University manages the Working with Children Check (Blue Card) requirements. The University stipulates certain positions within JCU where education and services are provided to children that must hold a Blue Card or an exemption card to comply with the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 (the Act) and the Education and Care Services Act 2013.

Scope

This Procedure applies to all members of the Council, Staff, Affiliates, Students, Volunteers and Contractors who undertake child-related work, or have significant exposure to children in the course of their research, work activities or study whilst at or engaged by James Cook University.

Definitions

Except as otherwise specified in this Procedure or the Child Safety Policy, the meaning of terms used are as per the Policy Glossary:

Child-related work

Work that usually involves or is likely to involve regular, direct contact with a child.

Direct Contact

Physical contact, face-to-face contact, contact by post or other written communication, contact by telephone or other oral communication, or contact by email or other electronic communication

Disqualified person

Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 (the Act) states that a person is disqualified if they have been convicted of a disqualifying offence within the meaning of the Act. For example:

  • Sexual relations with a child (irrespective of   the type of relationship e.g. teenage boyfriend/girlfriend, unlawful carnal knowledge) or other child-related sex or pornography offences or the murder of a child or an adult (irrespective of the penalty and regardless of when and where it occurred);

are the subject of:

  • reporting obligations under the Child Protection (Offender Reporting and Offender Prohibition Order) Act 2004, or
  • an offender prohibition order under the Child Protection (Offender Prohibition Order) Act 2008, or
  • a disqualification order issued by a court prohibiting them from applying for or holding a Blue Card, or
  • a sexual offender order under the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders)   Act 2003.

Engaged

Means engaged either:

  1. under a contract of employment or a contract for services (whether written or   unwritten);
  2. as part of the duties of a religious vocation;
  3. as an officer or other honorary position; or
  4. as a volunteer

Exemption Card

Registered teachers and police officers remain exempt from requiring a blue card or exemption card when providing regulated child-related services as part of their professional duties. However, when providing regulated child-related services which fall outside of their professional duties (e.g., a registered teacher is working in a child care centre or private tutoring business), registered teachers and police officers must apply for an exemption card.

Exposure

Contact or interaction (including through physical or virtual environments) or contact or interaction that may be made possible as a result of access to personally identifiable information of children, whether or not the contact or interaction is incidental to the work or services the person is engaged to perform.

Negative notice

If an application for a blue card or exemption card is not approved, a person is issued with a negative notice letter which prohibits that person from working in employment or carrying on a business regulated by the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000.

Notifiable person

Notifiable persons are those entities which are given notifications from Blue Card Services about changes to the Blue Card status of a particular person associated with that entity (for example, if the person’s application has been withdrawn or Blue Card suspended).

Positive Notice

A person whose application is approved is issued with a positive notice letter and a Blue Card. A positive notice may be suspended, and negative notice issued.

Serious Offence

Section 167 of the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 defines a 'serious offence' and details the current serious offences at Schedule 2 of the Act.

Procedures

1.   Working with Children Check

1.1   The Working with Children Check is a check that assesses a person’s eligibility to hold a Blue Card or Exemption Card based on their known past police and disciplinary information. This process also disqualifies certain people upfront and prevents people from working with children whose past behaviour indicates they are not eligible to enter regulated child-related employment, including:

1.1.1 any national charge or conviction (including spent convictions and pending and non-conviction charges) for an offence (even if no conviction was recorded);

1.1.2 disciplinary information held by certain professional organisations including teachers, child care licensees and foster carers; and

1.1.3 information that the Police Commissioner may provide in relation to police investigations into allegations of serious child-related sexual offences, even if no charges were laid.

1.2   A person whose application is approved is issued with a positive notice letter and a Blue Card.

1.3   If a person’s application is refused, they are issued with a negative notice which prohibits them from carrying on a business or providing regulated child-related activities.

1.4   The police information of all card holders and applicants is monitored by the regulatory authorities. If the information changes, immediate steps can be taken to protect children from harm. Card holders are monitored to ensure they are meeting their Blue Card system obligations and providing safe environments for children.

2.   Blue Card Requirements at JCU

2.1   All Council, Staff, Affiliates, Students, Volunteers and Contractors as determined at Schedule A are required to hold a current Blue Card.

2.2   The University will be responsible for the application costs associated with obtaining a Blue Card for all staff occupying a position impacted by changes to Schedule A and the inclusion of a Blue Card as an inherent requirement in their position description. Where a current staff member applies for new position within the University that requires a Blue Card, those costs will be met by the staff member.

2.3   All prospective staff members will be required to obtain the Blue Card at their own cost. New appointees will be advised of this requirement during the recruitment/appointment process, and it will be listed as an inherent requirement in position descriptions.

2.4   The University may reimburse costs associated with obtaining and continuing to hold a Blue Card for Staff in extenuating circumstances. Assessment will be based on financial hardship only. In all cases where financial hardship is established, the relevant organisational unit will be responsible for funding the costs associated with the Blue Card.

2.5   Any volunteers who may be involved in JCU activities involving children are to have a volunteer Blue Card depending on their direct engagement with and exposure to children. This requirement would be determined by the Director/Dean/PVC of the administering work unit (ie College/Directorate). The Blue Card application is free for volunteers.

3.   Exemption

3.1   Certain categories of persons or organisations engaged with the University may be exempt from the requirement to hold a valid Blue Card under specific conditions (Exemption).

3.2   A tertiary teacher of an education provider (which includes TAFE and universities) does not require a Blue Card even if some of their students are under the age of 18.

4.   Applying for a Blue Card

4.1   The Blue Card Services website provides information on Working with Children Checks and the application process. Blue Card Services provides a flow chart for applications. Blue Cards for staff members are valid for three years and the fees are on the website.

4.2   It is an offence, and for staff members and students it will be considered serious misconduct, to:

4.2.1 provide false or misleading information as part of an application or re-assessment of a Blue Card; or

4.2.2 use a false Blue Card or a Blue Card granted to another person.

4.3   If a volunteer has a Blue Card and is moving into paid employment with the University, then a transfer form must be submitted to Blue Card Services.

5.   Disqualifying and Serious Offences

5.1   The Blue Card system disqualifies certain people from applying for a Blue Card. It is an offence for a person who has been convicted of a disqualifying offence to apply for a Blue Card.

5.2   If a current staff member or volunteer has a Blue Card and they are convicted of a disqualifying offence and receive a term of imprisonment, their Blue Card will be automatically cancelled and a negative notice issued.

5.3   As of 1 July 2019, 17 new offences have been added to the list of disqualifying offences. Existing cardholders with a previous conviction for a new serious offence will have their eligibility to continue to hold a Blue Card assessed by Blue Card Services. Blue Card Services will work with existing cardholders to manage the reassessment process.

5.4   If a person has a conviction for an offence that is considered to be serious under the Act, then a negative notice will be issued by Blue Card Services to the person unless an exceptional case exists.

5.5   If a staff member, affiliate student, volunteer, or contractor applying for a Blue Card has a conviction for a serious offence during the application process, they must stop child-related work at or for JCU until their application has been assessed and they have been issued with a Blue Card.

5.6   If a staff member, affiliate student, volunteer, or contractor has a change in their police information and they are charged with a serious offence, then the person’s Blue Card will be automatically suspended and they must cease child-related work at or for JCU. They are not to recommence child-related work until a re-assessment has been undertaken by Blue Card Services once the charge has been resolved).

6.   Negative notices

6.1   Persons who are employed or otherwise engaged with the University, who hold a Blue Card and are issued with a Negative Notice, are subject to the following requirements:

All

Staff Member/Affiliate

Student

Volunteer /

Contractor

Requirement to notify

As soon as practicable. No later than 7 days of a Negative Notice being received.

Notify HR Business Partner.

Notify placement coordinator

Notify their employer and their JCU Supervisor or relevant business unit contact.

Work restrictions - Preliminary or Interim Notice

Named individual must not engage or apply for Child-related work, or any work that involves or may involve children for the period of appeal and/or assessment until such time as the outcome is known.

Exceptions –

May remain engaged in certain capacity subject to approval in writing by Human Resources in consultation with the Chief of Staff.

Nil exceptions, review of suitability undertaken

Exceptions –

May remain engaged in certain capacity subject to approval in writing by the relevant Head of Business Unit at JCU in consultation with the University’s Chief of Staff.

Work restrictions - Negative Notice or Notice of Suspension

Named individual must not engage or apply for child-related work or any work that involves or may involve children.

Ni exceptions – consideration of ongoing employment undertaken

Nil exceptions –

review of suitability undertaken

Nil exceptions – review of ongoing engagement with JCU to be undertaken

6.2   Where an individual is issued with a Negative Notice, this will be managed on a case by case basis, taking into consideration the circumstances of the non-compliance and the requirements of the individual’s engagement with the University:

6.2.1 for Staff or Volunteer: by Human Resources in consultation with the University’s Chief of Staff and the relevant work area; and

6.2.2 for Contractor: by the Chief of Staff and the relevant Head of Business Unit.

6.3   Ongoing employment or engagement of such individuals may be conditional upon obtaining/maintaining a Blue Card.

6.4   People issued with a negative notice by Blue Card Services have the right to seek an appeal of this decision with the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

7.   Staff Members

7.1   Human Resources is responsible for maintaining the University's register of Blue Cards. Staff members must provide appropriate documentation evidencing their compliance to Human Resources upon request. A Blue Card Register Template is available from the Queensland Government Blue Card website.

8.   Contractors and Other Third Parties

8.1   Contractors (Third Party teaching and research partners, sub-contractors and agents) and Volunteers may be required to hold Blue Cards when working for, or at, JCU, depending on their direct engagement with and exposure to children. Appropriate documentation evidencing compliance must be provided to Human Resources upon request.

8.2   Where a Contractor is required to hold a valid Blue Card, the Contractor will be responsible for their organisation's compliance with this requirement which includes maintaining a register of their employee’s Blue Card information.  Staff with responsibilities for managing contracts may request documentation evidencing compliance from contractors.

8.3   Where a University business unit or Staff member engages a Volunteer on a formal or informal basis, and the Volunteer is required to hold a valid Blue Card, the organisational unit is responsible for recording the Volunteers' Blue Card information and ensuring the Volunteer complies with the requirement of the Child Safety Policy and this Procedure.

8.4   Where a research activity requires a Blue Card, the lead investigator must submit evidence to the Human Research Ethics Committee that demonstrates that all collaborators and or parties to the research project adhere to the Child Safety Policy and this Procedure. The lead investigator is responsible for recording their external collaborator's Blue Card (or equivalent) information.

8.5   The University may at any point in time, elect to undertake a compliance audit of its own register and that of its business units, volunteers and engaged contractors.

9.   Compliance and Record Keeping

9.1   All individuals in the scope of the Procedure are responsible for maintaining their continued compliance with the Procedure. Records that are required to be managed:

9.1.1 Individual's Blue Card information;

9.1.2 Working With Children Check Declaration form;

9.1.3 Working With Children Check Exemption form (where relevant);

9.1.4 Working with Children Check Registers.

9.2   All records must be managed and disposed of in accordance with the University's Records and Archives Management Policy and the Privacy - Personal Information Policy.

10.  Managing Non-Compliance

10.1  For staff, failure to obtain or maintain, or produce when requested, a valid, positive Blue Card will be reviewed by Human Resources, in consultation with the Staff member and their Manager, and may be considered as serious misconduct or misconduct by the University as per the JCU Enterprise Agreement.

10.2  For students, failure to obtain and maintain a Blue Card where it is a requirement within a degree program means will be required to participate in a to assess their suitability to participate, or continue, in a professional or clinical placement or to continue in that course of study.

10.3  For Volunteers or Contractors covered by this Procedure, failure to obtain and maintain, or produce when requested, a valid, positive Blue Card may be considered grounds for the removal of the Volunteer or Contractor from the University grounds by JCU Security (as authorised persons appointed by the Vice Chancellor under the James Cook University Act 1997) and for termination of the relevant contract, relationship or partnership between them, or their employer, and the University.

10.4  Where the University is appropriately informed, it will take reasonable steps to ensure that:

10.4.1 Any person subject to obligations, orders or offences for serious sexual, violent or drug offence does not interact on a one-on-one basis, work with or care for children while their application is being processed or their Blue Card reassessed. Such action may include not permitting the person to attend on campus.

10.4.2 Any person who has a Negative Notice does not interact on a one-on-one basis, work with or care for children. Such action may include not permitting the person to attend on campus.

Related policy instruments

Child Safety Policy

Child Safety and Child Abuse Response and Reporting procedure

Welfare and Support Arrangements for under 18 International Students Procedure

Bullying, Discrimination and Harassment Complaint Procedure for Staff and Affiliates

Staff Code of Conduct

Explanatory Statement to the Code of Conduct

Student Code of Conduct

Student General Misconduct Procedures

James Cook University Enterprise Agreement

Review of a Student’s Suitability to Continue a Course Involving Placement

Related documents and legislation

Child Protection Act (Qld) 1999

Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018

Public Records Act (Qld) 2002

National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018Standard 5: Younger Overseas Students

AHRC National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

DFAT Child Protection Policy 2017

National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) - Updated 2018, Chapter 4.2: Children and Young People

Child Employment Regulation 2016

Schedules/Appendices

A.         Applicability of Working with Children Check for staff members, volunteers and contractors (third parties)

Administration

Approval Details

Procedure sponsor:

Vice Chancellor

Version no.

19-1

Date for next review:

27/09/2022

Modification History

Version no.

Approval date

Implementation date

Details

Author

19-1

27/09/2019

01/10/2019

Procedure established.

Chief of Staff

Keywords

Blue Card, Working with Children check, negative notice, child safety