A Queensland Santa has called for better protection for children after learning those who don the big red suit for shopping centres are not required to undergo a Working With Children Check.
Current blue card laws state a person playing the role of Santa in a shopping centre or department store doesn’t need to undergo the safety checks in order to work with children.
“People playing the role of Santa do not fall within a specific category of regulated employment or business under the Working with Children Act 2000,” the state advises on its blue card validation website.
“However, a blue card may be required when the work is carried out in a regulated environment such as a school, education and care centre, church, club or association.”
A Santa appearing at a school, child care centre, church, sporting club or local Christmas carols event is required to undergo the relevant checks beforehand.
Townsville Santa Bruce Adams told the Townsville Bulletin he had worked as a shopping centre Santa for three years.
He estimated he had worked with up to 6800 children in that timeframe, aging from babies to teenagers.
Mr Adams told NewsCorp he was concerned to learn a blue card was not a mandatory requirement for playing Santa in a shopping centre.
“I thought surely that wasn’t the case and said for my own peace of mind I would like to renew but I was told I can’t do it because it wasn’t required for the role,” he said.
The concern comes after the Queensland Family and Child Commission was ordered to undergo an indepth inquiry into the operation of blue cards, after the alleged murder of schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer.
Mr Adams felt the loophole was bureaucracy “gone mad” at the expense of potentially vulnerable children.
He questioned why some Santas needed the working with children check, while others did not.
“It’s known that around Christmas time and school holidays predators are in shopping centres,” he said.
It’s understood the scope of blue card screening will be considered as part of the inquiry.