Child-care enrolment laws in Queensland
Effective from 1 January 2016
The Queensland Parliament has passed amendments to the Public Health Act 2005 regarding entry to and attendance at child-care (Public Health (Childcare Vaccination) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015).
Which children will be affected?
The new law applies to existing enrolments as at 01 January 2016, and to all new enrolments from that date.
What is the effect of the law?
The new law gives child-care operators the option to not enrol an unvaccinated child, or cancel the existing enrolent of an unvaccinated child, but does not compel them to do so.
Which services does the law apply to?
- long day care
- family day care
- outside school hours care/vacation care
- limited hours care or occasional care
The law does not apply to enrolment in prep or school, however parents may be required to produce a vaccination status / history statement.
Which vaccines must a child have to be considered fully vaccinated?
To be considered up-to-date for the purpose of Queensland childcare enrolment law, a child must be age appropriately vaccinated according to the schedule recommended in the Australian Immunisation Handbook, undergoing a catch-up schedule, or have a medical exemption.
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. We are presently awaiting a response from the state’s Minister for Health on this matter.
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.
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 which was amended to include certain legal protections for child-care operators exercising the option to enrol unvaccinated children. For more detailed information, see the Queensland government’s web site.
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 Queensland Government.