Blue card checks are not realistic for remote towns

People in the north west are out of work because blue card checks are too stringent, Traeger MP Robbie Katter claims. 

The blue card is a screening process to determine a person's eligibility to work with children and young people based on their known past behaviour.

Mr Katter told parliament last week, many people in remote communities want to work but cannot navigate the levels of bureaucracy. 

“Unfortunately, many of the jobs requiring a blue card do not relate only to children,” Mr Katter said. 

“If you are a builder in Doomadgee and you are trying to get a job with QBAS—one of the only forms of employment there—because they work in schools and hospitals, you need a blue card.

“Ninety per cent of the jobs in those communities now need a blue card, but a lot of people cannot get a blue card. It is not just about appealing and getting access; it is also about the time it takes to get a blue card,” he said. 

“The first message they usually get when applying for a job is, ‘Go home, mate. We’ll try to get you a blue card on appeal.’ It does not work.”

It is a serious problem here, people cannot get work because of minor offences which have nothing to do with kids.

Doomadgee Council

Doomadgee Council CEO Lothar Siebert said it was “the biggest problem in the community”.

“If you get done for say drink driving, which has nothing to do with kids, you cannot get a job here,” Mr Siebert said.

“If you have been convicted of something violent or something bad to do with kids, absolutely you should not get a blue card.

“It is a serious problem here, people cannot get work because of minor offences which have nothing to do with kids,” he said. 

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General said the blue card system was a key monitoring system.

“However, to keep pace with changing community expectations and emerging risks, it is timely to update and strengthen this very effective base,” the spokeswoman said. 

“The Premier asked the Queensland Family and Child Commission to undertake a whole-of-system review, and the QFCC released its final report into blue cards in September last year.

“The government has broadly accepted all 81 recommendations and has begun a phased introduction,” she said.

“A departmental team is now working on a roadmap for implementing and prioritising the reforms, with a strong focus on streamlining the current system and building cultural capability to improve outcomes for and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Mr Katter said the secret to getting kids off the street is having a functional family.

“Families are not functional if mum and dad cannot get access to work,” Mr Katter said. 

“People want to work and we are blocking them from getting a job through the blue card policy.

“It is done with the best intentions, but it needs reviewing. It is a cost that is impacting on social areas right across this state and it needs to be taken care of,” he said.