Dametto backs tougher child safety laws

HINCHINBROOK MP Nick Dametto has backed a raft of new amendments to toughen up Queensland’s child safety laws but warns the system “is far from perfect”.

Mr Dametto voted in support of the State Government’s Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 earlier this week, which added 15 more crimes to the list of disqualifying offences when applying for a Blue Card.

Mr Dametto commended the new measures, which will now disqualify people who commit offences such as bestiality, kidnapping of a child, kidnapping for ransom of a child, child stealing and abduction of a child under 16, among several other crimes.

“In the last 20 years we have had 70 amendments to this legislation, which indicates this is a work in progress,” he said.

“The Blue Card system is not a complete safeguard to stop people who assault children when they are working in a position of trust, and as time rolls on, I am sure that we will see more disqualifying offences added, not only to make children safer but to put families and parents at ease so that when they drop their children off at day care, school or sporting clubs they will be better protected.”

Mr Dametto pointed to Katter’s Australian Party State leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter’s Working with Children Legislation (Indigenous Communities) Amendment Bill 2018 as an example of where the Blue Card system could be improved.

“Our Bill proposes a new Blue Card framework that empowers Indigenous communities to make decisions which best serve their interests in relation to child protection and employment of community members,” he said.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of all children is paramount and must continue to be the number one priority of the community, however the ‘one size fits all’ approach to the Blue Card system is having a negative impact on Indigenous communities within Queensland.”

Mr Dametto said the Blue Card system contained “significant limitations in the way it applies to the unique circumstances of Indigenous communities and this is resulting in missed opportunities for social and economic development”.

“There have been many instances where individuals have been denied access to work due to the inflexibility of the current system. In a number of cases, the local community, through community leaders, law enforcement and judicial representatives, has determined that the person poses no risk to children and their employment would have broader positive community impacts,” he said.

“It is imperative that the legislative framework in Queensland recognises the different circumstances of remote indigenous communities and supports the process for job seekers in Indigenous communities while protecting the interests of children.”

Nick Dametto MP