Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has set aside a decision to refuse a blue card application, ruling the applicant had reformed from a life of crime and did not represent a risk of harm to children.
“AVJ” challenged the Department of Justice and Attorney General’s decision under the Working with Children (Risk Management & Screening) Act 2000 (Qld) (“WWC Act”), made in 2020, that he be issued a negative notice as an exceptional case.
QCAT’s decision published this week stated the now 35-year-old applicant had a nine-year criminal history which contained an array of convictions. Offences included unlawful entry of a motor vehicle, possession of dangerous drugs, commit public nuisance, enter premise with intent, common assaults, trespass and wilful damage.
The tribunal stated this history showed “the applicant had a propensity throughout 2005-August 2014 of dishonesty and unlawful conduct, drug and substance use, a propensity for violence, non-compliance to directions, and a disregard for the law”.
“Whilst these offences are neither serious offences, nor disqualifying offences under the WWC Act, it is clear that legislative intention is that all offences on a person’s criminal history should be considered when determining eligibility to work with children,” it said.
The department’s underlying concerns about AVJ included his past drug use; his ability to exercise restraint, self-control and judge appropriate behaviours; and his ability to prioritise the rights, interests, and wellbeing of others.
QCAT stated it considered AVJ’s testimony to be upfront and honest, and provided with insight and remorse. It considered AVJ understood the seriousness of his offences, his behaviours, and the impact his actions had on others.
“The tribunal is satisfied that the applicant has addressed and acknowledges the triggers and stressors that led to that past offending which demonstrate to the tribunal that if faced with those triggers again, the applicant has the requisite maturity and growth to act accordingly,” it said.
“The applicant’s life trajectory has changed considerably, including a change in social circles, his marriage and becoming a father, and by the testimony provided to the tribunal that AVJ actively participates in his community positively.
“The tribunal considers and gives regard to what AVJ has done in the past eight years throughout the period of non-offending which include gaining work skills and starting a business, he has built and retained solid relationships resulting in marriage and starting a family; and that AVJ has made a genuine and conscientious effort to change and remain changed.”
QCAT ordered the department’s decision be set aside and replaced with the tribunal’s decision that there is no exceptional case.