Conditions on enrolment in early childhood education/childcare services in Queensland
This page was last updated on 26 February 2018
In October 2015, the Queensland Parliament, amended the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) (the Act) with respect to vaccination for the purpose of enrolment and attendance at early childhood education and care services in that state.
See How the law passed.
What is the effect of the law?
The amended law gives early childhood education and care services the option to not enrol an unvaccinated child, or to cancel the existing enrolment of an unvaccinated child, but does not compel them to do so. The legislation does not make immunisation mandatory or stop services from allowing unvaccinated children to enrol or to attend.
Based on media reports, most early childhood education and care services in Queensland have not been exercising the option to deny enrolment to or exclude unvaccinated children, despite being lawfully able to since the law took effect on 01 January 2016. See for example, this article, an extract of which is quoted below.
Four of the state’s largest child care providers, with more than 300 operating centres — Affinity Education, C&K, Goodstart and Churches of Christ Care — are still accepting unvaccinated children.
C&K childcare runs 143 centres in Queensland and asks families to provide a record of their child’s vaccination as part of the enrolment process.
But in a statement to the ABC, C&K said: “We do not exclude children on the basis of their immunisation status.”
“We support the right of every child to have a quality early childhood education experience.”
Does the vaccination requirement apply to both new and existing enrolments?
The law applies to existing enrolments as at 01 January 2016, and to all new enrolments on or after that date.
Which types of early childhood education and care services does the law apply to?
The law applies to early childhood education and care services in Queensland providing:
- Long day care
- Family Day Care
- Outside school hours/vacation care
- Limited hours or occasional care
The law does not apply to:
- enrolment in Prep, Primary or Secondary school*
- children attending an outside school hours care service (after school care, before school care, vacation care)
- casual, ad-hoc care services (for example, crèches at gyms and shopping centres)
* When enrolling a child in Prep, Primary or Secondary School, parents may be requested or required to provide a vaccination status / history statement showing which, if any, vaccines their child has received. Importantly, such a request / requirement is not a requirement for their child to be vaccinated. This is a documentation request / requirement, not a vaccination requirement.
For further information about your obligations with respect to vaccination status documentation when enrolling your child in Prep, Primary or Secondary School, see No Jab No School – Not True.
Which vaccines are included in the vaccination requirement?
To be considered up-to-date for the purpose of enrolment under the Queensland law, a child must be vaccinated in accordance with the vaccination schedule recommended in the Australian Immunisation Handbook for children aged 0 to 4 years, be undergoing a catch-up schedule, or have a medical exemption, which includes contraindication or natural immunity.
Listed immediately below are links to the current requirements for obtaining medical exemptions under the federal No Jab No Pay law, and which also meet the requirements for Queensland’s No Jab No Play law.
- What are the permitted exemptions to the vaccination requirement?
- Medical contraindication to vaccination
- Secretary (of the Commonwealth Department of Human Services) determines in writing that the child meets the immunisation requirement
- Natural immunity
- Undergoing an approved catch-up schedule
If you having trouble getting your child’s exemption approved, please contact us, and we will endeavour to assist you in navigating the process. Please write Exemption (Qld) in the subject line so we can direct your query to the most appropriate volunteer.
Will child-care operators still be permitted to enrol unvaccinated children and to not cancel the existing enrolments of unvaccinated children?
Yes, child-care operators will continue to have the option to enrol unvaccinated children, and to not cancel the existing enrolments of unvaccinated children. Due to federal No Jab, No Pay legislation, however, parents will no longer receive Commonwealth child-care benefits and rebates for their unvaccinated children unless they have a medical exemption or documented natural immunity or are on a catch-up schedule.
Are child-care operators permitted to refuse to enrol unvaccinated children or cancel the enrolment of unvaccinated children?
The legality of refusing and cancelling enrolments is unclear. The new law permits any child-care operators who wish to, both to refuse to enrol, and to cancel the existing enrolments of, children whose vaccination status is not up-to-date. What remains to be tested, however, is whether such refusals and cancellations will be permitted by 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 the lawfulness of the vaccination requirement under the Disability Discrimination Act (Cth) 1992, a member has prepared a guide, based on legal advice provided to that member, about How to make a complaint against a childcare service under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
My child-care operator is concerned about legal liability arising from exercising its option of enrolling my unvaccinated child. How can I address these concerns?
Parents may refer child-care operators to section 179 of the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) which was amended to include certain legal protections for child-care operators exercising the option to enrol unvaccinated children.
All information contained herein was, to the author’s knowledge, correct at the time of writing, but please note, this information is not intended to constitute legal advice about eligibility for enrolment in childcare services under Queensland law, or eligibility for government subsidies or benefits under federal law. Parents should verify all information with their childcare or early education provider or the Queensland government with respect to enrolments, and the Commonwealth government with respect to childcare subsidies.