Tougher vaccination rules for NSW early childhood services

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  Published on Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Tougher vaccination rules for NSW early childhood services

Library Home  >  Health, Wellbeing & Nutrition
  Published on Tuesday, 24 October 2017

From January next year NSW parents who refuse to vaccinate their children will no longer be allowed to enrol them in early childhood education and care services after the NSW government scrapped the "conscientious objector" option.

The NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said the new rules would reduce the spread of contagious diseases such as whooping cough and meningococcal in early childhood settings.

"The NSW Government and the majority of the NSW community have achieved outstanding vaccination rates but there's no room for complacency… all it takes is one unvaccinated child and dozens of others could be put at risk of serious illness - so we are being very clear that the choices of conscientious objectors, which are not evidence based, will no longer be allowed to impact other families," said Mr Hazzard.

The Public Health Amendment (Review) Bill 2017 was passed by the NSW Parliament in September, and includes tough new fines for directors who do not comply with the new requirements.

The changes mean that from 1 January 2018:

  • children who are unvaccinated due to their parent's conscientious objection will no longer be able to be enrolled in early childhood education and care services
  • it will be an offence (with a penalty of 50 penalty units) for an approved provider to fail to comply with the ECECS vaccination enrolment requirements in section 87
  • it will be an offence (with a penalty of 50 penalty units) for a person to forge or falsify a certificate that is required to be provided under these requirements
  • the temporary exemption (for 12 weeks after enrolment) will be extended to Aboriginal children and those in out of home care.

Children who are already enrolled in ECECS before 1 January 2018 will be unaffected by the changes and children on a recognised catch-up vaccination schedule and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons may still be enrolled.

NSW Health will work with the Department of Education to enforce the new requirements and make sure they are included as part of routine regulatory activities.

In addition, NSW Health says it will assist the early childhood sector to understand and implement the new requirements, ahead of the deadline, and will develop a parent information booklet and tool kit for early childhood education and care services.

Updated advice about these changes, including a list of FAQs is available on the NSW Health website.

NSW services concerned about how this legislation change will impact them can contact Community Early Learning Australia on 1800 157 181 or info@cela.org.au for advice and support.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Thursday, 21 January 2021



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