NEW legislation will have a significant impact on childcare in 2018.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wrote to state and territory leaders in March, where he requested a uniform approach to the amount of unvaccinated children, the number of which is growing.
Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children won’t be allowed to enrol them in childcare in NSW from 1 January 2018, after the state parliament passed the legislation earlier this month.
The new laws scrapped the “conscientious objector” option, meaning that directors of childcare centres will face a fine up to $5500 if they break the rules.
The new legislation will help reduce the risk of children contracting diseases such as whooping cough and meningococcal.
Children on a recognised catch-up vaccination schedule or those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons will still be able to be enrolled.
The legislation will also allow public health officers to exclude unvaccinated children from secondary schools when there is a disease outbreak. This previously only applied to primary schools and child care centres.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard says the majority of the NSW community has achieved “outstanding” vaccination rates, and there is overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccination is safe and highly effective in preventing disease.
“However, all it takes is one unvaccinated child and dozens of others could be put at risk of serious illness,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
“We are being very clear that choices of conscientious objectors, which are not evidence-based, will no longer be allowed to impact other families.”
The child care sector will receive assistance from NSW Health to understand and implement the new requirements which will only apply to newly enrolled children ahead of the 1 January 2018 start date.
Figures released in June revealed the NSW North Coast’s vaccination rate trailed the rest of the nation.
There, 1867 children aged five or under were not fully immunised, compared with 721 children in western NSW and 481 in Murrumbidgee in the state’s southwest, according to 2015/16 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) data.
The federal government is also ramping up its “no jab, no pay” policy, with legislation introduced to parliament to dock welfare payments by $28 a fortnight for parents whose children do not meet immunisation rules.
What do you think? Should the rest of the country follow suit?