Political leaders and day care providers have voiced their support for new laws preventing parents from enrolling unvaccinated children in care.
From January next year, the “conscientious objector” law will be scrapped and parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids won’t be allowed to enrol them in child care.
The government says the new measures will reduce the risk of children contracting potentially deadly diseases, such as whooping cough and meningococcal.
Health minister Brad Hazzard cited “overwhelming scientific evidence” of disease prevention due to vaccination.
“However, 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 choices of conscientious objectors, which are not evidence-based, will no longer be allowed to impact other families,” the minister said.
The Public Health Amendment (Review) Bill 2017 was passed by the NSW Parliament earlier in the week with non-compliant childcare centres facing fines of up to $5500.
One New England childcare director, Corrinne Cloake, said the measures were not ‘new’ news to local providers with parents unable to receive their child care benefits or rebates unless their child’s vaccinations are kept up-to-date since 2016.
However, the number of unvaccinated children she had come across was minimal.
“I personally believe that it is a good move for everyone involved, however this is not news," she said
“When I first started in the industry as a casual employee with a previous employer in 2000, one of the centres had two families that were conscientious objectors, since then I haven't come across any further unimmunised children.”
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson welcomed the new laws, describing them as “important”.
“Any opportunity we have to rid our community of preventable diseases is one we should grasp with both hands,” he said.
“Just one child who becomes sick from a disease that could have been prevented is too many, that’s why the NSW Government is taking this matter seriously.”
The legislation also gives public health officers the power to exclude unvaccinated children from secondary schools when there is a disease outbreak. This provision previously only applied to primary schools and child care centres.