Life Wellbeing NSW Labor introduces bill to ban childcare centres for unvaccinated children

NSW Labor introduces bill to ban childcare centres for unvaccinated children

Anti vaccination advocates are facing stiff opposition by NSW Labor. Photo: Getty
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Childcare centres catering to unvaccinated children will not be allowed to open in NSW under a new bill proposed by Labor, with Opposition health spokesman Walt Secord pointing out that vaccination levels in parts of the state are below those in Africa.

Labor said it planned to amend existing laws to ban people from setting up childcare centres and family day care specifically for children who are not immunised.

Mr Secord said the changes were needed to plug a loophole in current legislation.

“This is about protecting the most vulnerable in our community, and I make no apologies — it will make it the toughest legislation in Australia,” he said.

The proposed legislation will include a $5,500 fine for any operator who enrols children who are not vaccinated.

Mr Secord said the bill would also remove the “conscientious objector clause” but maintain a provision for children who cannot be vaccinated due to a medical condition.

“We believe that all children in the community should be vaccinated unless there is a medical reason, unless they are undergoing cancer treatment,” he said.

Mr Secord urged Premier Gladys Berejiklian to support the bill.

“On the weekend the Premier indicated that she was unlikely to support, I’m calling on her to reverse her opposition to this,” he said.

Whooping cough in Byron, measles in Sydney

A spokeswoman for the state’s Health Minister Brad Hazzard said a proposal to ban children who are not vaccinated from childcare centres and preschools had already been put forward by the Federal Government and would be discussed at the next meeting of state and territory leaders.

Mr Secord said the changes were needed after a mother on the Northern Beaches and another in Lismore were attempting to set up daycare centres for unvaccinated children : “we believe that no adult has the right to infect someone’s child,” he said.

Mr Secord said vaccination rates in northern NSW and in some parts of Sydney’s east and northern beaches have slipped to “dangerous” levels. In 2014-15, vaccination of five-year-olds was at 61 per cent in Byron, 46.7 per cent in Mullumbimby and 76 per cent Murwillumbah.

“We have to find ways to increase vaccination rates, and if it requires plugging loopholes like moves to set up anti-vaccination centres, then we have a responsibility to do so,” he said. “Unvaccinated children pose a risk to the whole community, vaccination rates in some parts of the state particularly on the North Coast have fallen to record low levels.

“We’ve had the appearance of preventable diseases, we’ve had whooping cough outbreaks in Byron Bay and in western Sydney a measles outbreak.

“In certain parts of the state, we have vaccination levels that have dropped below African nation levels,” he said.

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