Child-care enrolment laws in New South Wales
Effective from 1 January 2014 – includes changes from 01 January 2016
Note: The New South Wales government has indicated that it intends to conduct a review of its No Jab No Play law some time this year, so it’s possible that it may seek to abolish the right to conscientiously object to vaccination for the purpose of enrolment in NSW childcare.
During 2013, the New South Wales Parliament passed amendments to the Public Health Act 2010 regarding entry to and attendance at child-care (Public Health Amendment (Vaccination of Children Attending Child Care Facilities) Bill 2013).
Which children does this law apply to?
The law applies to all new enrolments on or after 01 January 2014.
Which services does the law apply to?
- Early Childhood Education and Care Services
The law does not apply to enrolment in pre-school/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 Sales – unless a child’s parents have a certified religious or conscientious objection to vaccination following counselling by an immunisation provider on the benefits and risks of vaccination.
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 religious or conscientious objection from January 01 2016?
Due to the enactment of the Commonwealth No Jab No Pay law, effective from 01 January 2016, the ACIR/Medicare no longer receives conscientious/religious objection forms. As a result, the New South Wales health department has created a new form for exclusive use in that state.
The Interim Vaccination Objection Form for Enrolment in NSW Child Care Centres is available from the NSW Health website. You should download and print a copy from the website and bring it to a consultation with your GP or authorised nurse immuniser. The medical practitioner or authorised nurse immuniser should keep the original copy of the form and give you a copy to take to the child care centre for enrolment.
This form can be downloaded at the following 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?
Yes, child-care operators will continue to have the option to enrol unvaccinated children, and to not cancel the existing enrolments of unvaccinated children.
Are child-care operators permitted to refuse to enrol unvaccinated children or cancel the enrolment of unvaccinated children?
No, providing you obtain and provide a signed exemption form to your child care operator, then it has no legal grounds upon which to deny enrolment of your unvaccinated children. If your childcare provider still chooses to deny enrolment, or cancel the existing enrolment of your child in spite of it not being required to do so, then it may be acting unlawfully. 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.) This applies even to those with a valid conscientious objection to the vaccination requirement for enrolment purposes under the NSW law.
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.