During the course of 2015, the Victorian parliament passed draconian legislation which gave effect to a paradigm shift in vaccine policy in that state. From 01 January 2016, and for the first time, those with a deeply held secular or religious belief against vaccination, are generally prohibited from enrolling their children in Victorian kindergarten childcare services.
An information page for parents summarsing the impacts of this legislation is available here.
This page – which is divided into two sections – is intended to be a comprehensive resource containing all relevant documents pertaining to ‘No Jab No Play’, including explanatory memorandum, committee reports, and Hansard.
Section (1) provides downloads of all documents pertaining to Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (No Jab, No Play) Bill 2015, including explanatory memorandum, committee reports, and Hansard.
Section (2) provides links to current legislation.
Section (1) – Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (No Jab, No Play) Bill 2015
The Victorian ‘No Jab No Play’ Bill amended the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic) and received Royal Assent on 10 November 2015. Its operation commenced on 1 January 2016.
The Andrews ALP government, was elected on a pro-choice platform in 2014, but as we have come to expect from politicians on both sides of the political fence, it didn’t take long – once elected – before doing a complete back-flip.
Although the ALP did indicate during the 2014 election campaign its desire to increase vaccination rates, it did so on the clear basis that a right to conscientiously object to vaccination was included in the deal. Evidence of this can be seen on Page 41 of the Victorian ALP’s 2014 policy platform which states:
Labor believes that it is the responsibility of parents to ensure their children’s immunisations are up to date so that their own children, and all children in the community, are protected from preventable infectious diseases. Labor will:
Change the law to require children to be fully immunised before they can enrol in childcare or kindergarten, in an attempt to boost vaccination rates across the community. Children who are not fully immunised will not be able to enrol unless they have an approved exemption for a medical reason or their parents have a conscientious objection. To receive this exemption, parents must receive counselling from a medical practitioner and state they have been advised of the risks of not immunising their child.
On 16 August 2015, Victorian Health Minister, Jill Hennessy announced, by media release, the government’s intention to break its election promise, by enacting legislation which would prohibit the enrolment of unvaccinated children in Victorian kindergartens and childcare services, with no exemptions for those with a conscientious objection to vaccination on secular or religious grounds.
Summary of amendment
1) Early childhood services are prohibited from confirming the enrolment of a child unless the child is: (a) age appropriately immunised; or (b) there is a medical contraindication to the child being vaccinated.
2) In addition to the medical exemption, there are a significant number of exemption categories provided in section 143C (1) subsections (a) – (g).
3) Within 16 weeks after the date on which a child (one of the aforementioned exemption categories provided in section 143C) first attends the early childhood service, the person in charge of the early childhood service must take reasonable steps to ensure that an immunisation status certificate in relation to the child is provided by a parent of the child. It appears that if the parent fails to provide this, no further steps can lawfully be taken to exclude the child.
‘No Jab No Play’ Bill
Statement of Compatibility
Section 28 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (‘The Charter’), provides that for every Bill introduced to the parliament, a statement of compatibility with human rights must be prepared and tabled in the parliament.
Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee Inquiry
In accordance with section 30 of ‘The Charter’, the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee was required to evaluate the Bill’s compatibility with human rights. The committee also invited the public to make submissions in relation to the bill.
The committee received 163 submissions in total, the vast majority of which opposed the Bill. These are available on the parliament website.
The AVN submitted three key legal arguments against the Bill. These are in addition to the obvious human rights infringements prohibited by ‘The Charter’.
1) The Bill’s immunisation requirement exceeds the power of the parliament to make such a law. (see section 10.0, page 33 of AVN submission)
2) The Bill conflicts with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth). (see section 11.1, page 34 of AVN submission)
3) The Bill conflicts with A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 (Cth). (see section 11.2, page 35 of AVN submission)
On 06 October 2015, the committee reported that it had identified significant human rights incompatibilities in the ‘No Jab No Play Bill’, and was requesting a response from the Minister.
The section of the report covering this Bill commences on page 07.
The committee reported its final findings – which included the Minister’s response – on 20 October 2015. The section of the report covering this Bill commences on page 21.
Hansard – Bill Timeline & Second Reading Speeches
For convenience, all relevant Hansard has been downloaded from the parliament website and saved to a single document.
Section (2) – Current Legislation
Secretary’s guidelines in accordance with section 143D were published in the Victorian Government Gazette on 31 December 2015 (page 2824).
Commonwealth legislation provisions & legislative instruments employed by amendment
Australian Immunisation Handbook