Child-care enrolment laws in New South Wales
During September 2017, the New South Wales parliament passed legislation abolishing the right to conscientiously object to vaccination for the purpose of enrolment in early education services in that state. The law takes effect on 01 January 2018.
Which children does this law apply to?
The law applies to all new enrolments on or after 01 January 2018, but any enrolments before the 1 January 2018 are exempt from the new laws.
Which services does the law apply to?
- Early Childhood Education and Care Services
The law does not apply to enrolment in prep or school, however parents may be required to produce a vaccination status / history statement.
What is the effect of the law?
The law requires children without a medical exemption (which includes a contraindication or evidence of natural immunity) to be vaccinated, or undergoing an approved catch-up program, prior to being enrolled in childcare centres in New South Wales.
Which vaccines must a child have to be considered fully vaccinated?
To be considered up-to-date for the purpose of NSW childcare enrolment law, a child must be vaccinated according to the per-age NSW Immunisation Schedule which is available at this link.
How do I register a medical exemption?
The procedures for registering a medical exemption have not changed. Parents of children who have a medical contraindication to immunisation or natural immunity to a disease require an ACIR Immunisation Medical Exemption Form to be completed. These forms need to be signed by a GP and lodged with Medicare and a copy provided to the parent who must provide it to the child care centre on enrolment.
This form can be downloaded at the following link.
Will child-care operators still be permitted to enrol unvaccinated children and to not cancel the existing enrolments of unvaccinated children?
No, child-care operators will not continue to have the option to enrol unvaccinated children, but they will not be able to cancel the existing enrolments of unvaccinated children.
What remains to be tested, is whether such refusals and cancellations contravene the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992, which prohibits discriminating against others on the basis that they are perceived to be potential disease carriers.
If you experience such discrimination, and wish to test its lawfulness under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, please feel free to contact us for further information.
Will I still be eligible for child-care benefits and rebates in relation to my unvaccinated children?
The NSW law has no effect on benefits or rebates. The effect of the federal “No Jab, No Pay” law, however, is to deny Commonwealth child-care benefits and rebates for the care of unvaccinated children who do not have a medical exemption or documented natural immunity and are not on a catch-up vaccination schedule. (See “No Choice, No Way” – “No Jab No Pay” for details.)
Where can I out find out more?
For further information, see the New South Wales Health Department’s’ website.
Disclaimer: All information contained herein was, to the author’s knowledge, correct at the time of writing, but is not intended to constitute legal advice. Parents and child-care operators should verify all details with the New South Wales government.