How Domestic Violence Protection Order Proceedings Could Impact Your Working With Children Check? 




The safety and well-being of children are paramount considerations under the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 (the WWC Act). That legislation has established stringent regulations and checks to protect children from harm and abuse. A Blue Card or positive working with children check is required to engage in employment, whether voluntary or paid with children. In this article, we will explore the implications of domestic violence protection order proceedings on your ability to maintain a Blue Card in Queensland.


Understanding the Working With Children Check


Blue Cards are a safeguard in Queensland’s child protection framework. It is designed to identify and exclude individuals who may pose a risk to children from working or volunteering in roles involving regular contact with children. The check aims to protect children from harm, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and it is a legal requirement for many professions and volunteer positions.


While not perfect, the disclosure requirements of the working with children process in relation to police information are extensive where that information exists.


The Intersection of Domestic Violence and Blue Cards 


Domestic violence is a pervasive issue that has serious implications for the safety of children, particularly those who are exposed to domestic violence or experience associated domestic violence. Queensland has specific legislation in place to address domestic violence cases, namely the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012. This act enables aggrieved persons to seek protection orders against respondents and aims to provide a legal framework to address domestic violence issues.


As a part of those orders, named children can be placed in applications and be protected by orders where there is grounds to support a finding that the children are at risk of exposure to or experience associated domestic violence.


Becoming involved in a domestic violence situation is, by itself a difficult experience for all parties. However, before any steps are taken to finalise a without admissions order by consent or following a hearing, it is important for individuals, particularly those who hold Blue Cards to consider the potential consequences for their working with children clearance.


When applying for a WWCC, the Department obtains and considers criminal history and other relevant information which includes domestic violence information. Upon a charge for contravening a protection order, the update to the police information may trigger a reassessment process under the working with children legislation.  There is an obligation on positive notice holders to declare a change in police information.


The Department will then assess whether individuals pose a risk to children based on their criminal history check and any other relevant information. Domestic violence protection order proceedings can be seen as an indicator of potential risk to children, especially if the orders involve violence, threats, or harm towards a family member.


The working with children check is not a one-time check; it is renewed periodically. If domestic violence protection order proceedings arise during the validity of a WWCC, they may be considered in the renewal process.


Understanding the decision making process for the Department 


Case law suggests that the Department in considering the relevance of domestic violence information to an assessment of risk in relation to working with children, the exposure of children to ongoing domestic violence is a relevant feature.


In the event that no other relevant feature associated with criminal history is relevant to the determination, other relevant information (including domestic violence information) would only preclude a person from holding a positive notice if there were exceptional circumstances.


The term ‘exceptional circumstances’ is not defined in the WWC Act. Whether a case is an exceptional case is a question of fact and degree to be decided individually having regard to “the context of the legislation which contains them, the intent and purpose of that legislation and the interests of…children.”


Section 228 of the WWC Act provides that where domestic violence information exists, there must be consideration of:


  1. The circumstances of the domestic violence order;
  2. Length of time that has passed since the conduct;
  3. Relevance to employment involving children;
  4. Anything else relating to the information relevant to the assessment.


There are complex issues at play when:


  1. An aggrieved person receives a protection order for their protection but where that application shows that there is a level of exposure and ongoing risk to the children of that or previous relationships;


  1. A respondent person consents to a protection order naming children or contravenes a condition of the protection order, particularly if the allegation of contravention is said to have occurred in front of or exposing children to the behaviour.


How can we assist? 


Your employment or voluntary work with children are important considerations when you approach a domestic violence matter. If you are the aggreived or the respondent, there is a potential for you to lose the opportunity to continue to hold a blue card depending on the allegations made in the protection order proceedings.


it is important in those circumstances that you receive advice at an early stage so that a strategy can be developed to ensure your position as regards your positive notice and protection order are preserved.


If you wish to discuss your positive notice or how it might be impacted by your protection order proceedings, call Robertson O’Gorman Solicitors on (07) 3034 0000.