The WA Health No Jab No Play public consultation closed yesterday. A big thank you to everyone who contributed to the consultation. See AVN responses to the WA Health No Jab No Play public consultation.
We were presented with two Options that the WA Government is currently investigating to increase childhood vaccination rates:
- Option A – Fully implement recently introduced regulations requiring the collection and reporting of vaccination status by child care services, community kindergartens and schools at the time of enrolment, and monitor any impact before changing the status quo.
- Option B – Amend the Public Health Act 2016 (WA) (‘the Act’) to require, with rare exception, children in WA to be fully vaccinated for age as a condition of enrolment into child care services, community kindergartens and schools, before the compulsory education period.
We supported Option A, but expressed concerns about the scope of the Chief Health Officer’s powers under Regulation 10E, and that due process may not have been followed in the making of Regulation 10E. (see question 6 on pages 4-8)
We opposed Option B (No Jab No Play) but proposed amendments to provide for three exemptions. (see question 7 on pages 9-16)
1. Conscientious objection to vaccination based on a personal, philosophical, religious or medical belief that one or more prescribed vaccinations should not take place.
2. Medical contraindication to vaccination – non-prescriptive and based on a doctor’s clinical judgement in each individual case.
3. Family Day Care
We provided a large list of additional disadvantages of Option B (No Jab No Play) which were not listed in the discussion paper. (see question 12 on pages 20-27)
We noted that the Department of Health’s Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (discussion paper) was misleading because it omitted important information, and incorrectly framed other information. We issued a reminder that it is not open to the department to promote the political position of the government of the day, by selectively disclosing information, or framing information in a way that may mislead politicians voting on the No Jab No Play bill, as well as the general public. (see question 25 on page 36)
Decision Regulatory Impact Statement
The department is obliged to publish a Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (DRIS) once it has evaluated all of the public’s responses. This document will contain recommendations to the government. The department has not indicated when this will be released.
It is important to emphasise that the government is not bound to follow the recommendations in the DRIS. As we saw in New South Wales in 2017, the government chose to ignore the recommendations of the New South Wales Ministry of Health, which had recommended that conscientious objection exemptions be retained, following its review of the Public Health Act.
For this reason, we still need to be lobbying our members of parliament to convince them to include appropriate exemptions if Option B is their preferred option.