A grandmother with a lengthy criminal past, and who Queensland Department of Child Safety concluded had neglected one of her own four children, has won an application to overturn a ban from being a “kinship carer of her grandsons”.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, in a recently published finding, set aside a decision by the Director-General of Queensland’s Department of Justice and Attorney-General that prevented the woman from obtaining a blue card, which would have entitled her to legally provide care to her grandchildren.
The tribunal was told that the 54-year-old woman, identified only as ‘NGV’, had racked up numerous minor convictions over a 27-year period, including multiple counts of drink-driving and public nuisance offences, as well as driving while one of her children was unrestrained.
QCAT member Paul Kanowski, in his 16-page written decision, noted that NGV had also been the subject of investigations by the Department of Child Safety between 1990 and 2014 – and these including findings of child neglect, failing to arrange counselling for her daughter after she was sexually abused, and for repeatedly using alcohol, amphetamines, marihuana, ecstasy and heroin.
“NGV…wishes to obtain a blue card (under Queensland’s Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000) as a step toward gaining approval to be a kinship carer for her grandsons,” Mr Kanowski said.
He said NGV applied for the card in December 2018, but that Blue Card Services rejected it by issuing a ‘negative notice’.
“In deciding to issue a negative notice, Blue Card Services had regard to NGV’s criminal history, a summary from the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women, and other information,” he said.
“NGV’s criminal history includes offences of assault, public nuisance, drink-driving and driving while a child was unrestrained.
“The Department of Child Safety received several notifications over the years about NGV’s parenting of her (four) children and domestic violence in the home.”
Blue Card Services, in its submission during a hearing held on 20 July, said it was its view NGV was an “exceptional case” in which it would not be in the interests of children for a ‘positive notice’ to be issued.
Mr Kanowski rejected the submission, saying he was satisfied that NGV now understood the impact of substance abuse and domestic violence.
“(NGV) no longer uses alcohol to excess. She no longer uses cannabis. She has engaged in anti-social behaviour in the past, but that has been the exception rather than the rule,” Mr Kanowski said.
“Considering all of the circumstances, and bearing in the mind the objects and principles of the Working with Children Act, I disagree with the conclusion reached by Blue Card Services that NGV’s is an exceptional case in which it would not be in the best interests of children for a positive notice to be issued.
“I consider NGV’s is not an exceptional case…(and) accordingly, the correct and preferable decision is to set aside the decision made by Blue Card Services.”
Read the full decision.