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URGENT: NSW SUBMISSION DUE ON FRIDAY 3RD JUNE!

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URGENT NSW SUBMISSION DEADLINE IS THIS FRIDAY!!!
 
*** STATUTORY REVIEW – NSW PUBLIC HEALTH ACT 2010 ***
HOW THIS LEGISLATION MAY AFFECT YOU…
 
A discussion paper has been released as part of the statutory 5-year review of the NSW Public Health Act 2010. The 48 page discussion paper includes sections on public health orders, vaccine preventable diseases in schools and child care (namely the requirement to exclude a child with the disease AND unvaccinated children), and the enrolment of unvaccinated children in childcare. Below I will provide a brief on the relevant sections and will then outline what you can do…
 
PUBLIC HEALTH ORDERS
Page 35 explains that ‘a public health order, among other things, can require a person to be detained and/or treated.’ Currently a person with a category 4 or 5 condition (serious and often life-threatening infectious conditions which have the potential to cause outbreaks with major implications for the community) can have a health order imposed, however the discussion paper asks:
21) Should the current powers for public health orders be extended to include high risk contacts of a person with a Category 4 condition?
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VACCINE PREVENTABLE DISEASES IN SCHOOLS AND CHILD CARE
Page 37 explains that ‘during an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease, a public health officer can take action to exclude a child who is at risk of contracting the disease through not being vaccinated for that condition. ‘
Previously, this item covered primary schools and not high schools because vaccination records were not readily available for high school aged students. Now that the ACIR keeps records to 2015, the discussion paper asks:
 
25) Should the current provisions in the Act relating to vaccine preventable diseases be extended to apply to high schools?

Furthermore:
26) Should the Act be amended to allow a public health officer to direct an unvaccinated child whom the officer reasonably believes has been in contact with a case of a vaccine preventable disease be excluded from child care or school, regardless of whether there is an outbreak at the school or child care the child attends?
 
ENROLMENT OF UNVACCINATED CHILDREN IN CHILDCARE
 
Page 41 addresses the enrolment of children in childcare. Currently the NSW Public Health Act allows children with a conscientious objection to vaccination to enroll in childcare, even though the national legislation does not acknowledge the conscientious objection. To be clear, national law covers childcare payments, state law covers enrolment rules. The discussion paper refers to recent changes in VIC & QLD law and notes ‘it is timely to consider whether NSW should also remove the current exemption allowing children of vaccination objectors to be enrolled in child care from the Act.’
 
The discussion paper does read as though it is likely that the current exemption will be removed… ‘Removal of the conscientious objection exemption from the NSW legislation is consistent with other strategies to encourage timely vaccination and reduce the likelihood of disease transmission in child care facilities, particularly for vulnerable children including immunocompromised children, children on a catch up schedule, and those too young to be fully vaccinated. Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children place these other children at risk of significant health consequences.’ It asks:
 
28) Should the Public Health Act be amended to remove the conscientious objector exemption to enrolment in a childcare facility from the Act, such that children who are not vaccinated due to their parents’ conscientious objection cannot enrol in child care?
 
29) If the exemption is not removed from the Act, should other options be pursued to strengthen the requirements to obtain a conscientious objection exemption for enrolment in child care in NSW?
 
The Review Paper can be found at
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*** WHAT YOU CAN DO***
 
1) Make a submission!
The closing date for comment is this Friday, 3 June 2016. Submissions should be in writing and directed to: Health Protection NSW, NSW Ministry of Health, Locked Bag No. 961, North Sydney NSW 2059
 
I suggest you respond to the questions outlined above, and that you also send a copy of your submission to your local state MP.
 
2) Meet with your local state MP – ASAP!
Do not write a letter (but do send them your submission), you’ll just get a standard response from an administrative officer. Call and arrange a meeting! Explain to them in your words how this will affect you. You don’t need to know all the stats, just make them more aware! Better still, get a group together and visit your local state MPs in numbers! If you have a local parenting group this is ideal. If you can take some resources with you – printed studies, a book, a documentary – wonderful!
 
3) Make sure your Childcare Director/Manager and/or your School Principal knows your views.
Have a meeting with them too! Chances are they’ve been asked to provide input to a larger submission. Certainly the Australian Childcare Alliance has asked its members for feedback.
 
The Review Paper can be found at
 
Please feel free to copy and paste this information in other groups.
 
Information compiled by Debbie Kemp

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