Blue Card bill to provide more job opportunities for First Australians and still keep kids safe

KAP State Leader Robbie Katter has introduced a bill into Parliament to create a new blue card framework. It would empower Indigenous communities to make decisions which best serve their interests in relation to blue cards, rather than relying on a government department in Brisbane.

Robbie’s bill – the Working with Children Legislation (Indigenous Communities) Amendment Bill 2017 – would allow Community Justice Groups in Indigenous communities to grant a second chance to people who had turned their lives around. The zero tolerance regarding anyone with sexually related convictions would remain in place, to ensure children’s safety.

“Children’s safety remains the number one priority,” Robbie said. “This does not mean a one size fits all approach to blue cards is the best way to go.”

“I have come across many cases in remote Indigenous communities where a person who has completely turned their life around is unable to work or contribute fully to the community because old convictions prevent them from getting a Blue Card,” Robbie said.

“There have been cases where the local school community and police have determined the person poses no risk to children and their employment would have positive community impacts, but they still cannot work in certain roles in the community because of past offences,” Robbie said.

The bill creates a framework which enables a Community Justice Group to approve the issue of a blue card to work in a particular community, even if the applicant has previous criminal offences that would normally mean they would be rejected. The Bill details a range of factors the Community Justice Group must consider in making its decision. A blue card granted under these circumstances can only be used to work in the area the Community Justice Group has jurisdiction over.

“The whole point is the Community Justice Group has an intimate understanding of its community and its people, and is in the best position to know which people have genuinely turned things around and can make a positive contribution without posing any danger to children,” Robbie said.

A Community Justice Group typically includes Elders, traditional owners, respected persons and community members of good standing. There are currently about 50 Community Justice Groups operating across the state.

Robbie consulted widely on the bill over the past two years before its introduction today.

The bill has been referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee.

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