New Mandatory Immunisation Requirements for Children in WA

New laws in WA have made immunisation a condition of enrolment in childcare services, community kindergartens and schools.

This alert applies to organisations that operate childcare services, kindergartens or schools and organisations who employ medical practitioners, nurse practitioners or pathologists and will likely amend the WA – Education and Care Services and WA – Diseases modules.

Public Health Amendment (Immunisation Requirements for Enrolment) Bill 2019 (WA)

Please be advised that on 26 June 2019 the Public Health Amendment (Immunisation Requirements for Enrolment) Bill 2019 (WA) (the Bill) passed the Western Australian Parliament and is received Royal Assent on 5 July 2019.  Sections 1 and 2 of the Bill commenced on 5 July 2019 and the remainder of the Bill commenced on 22 July 2019.

Background

The Bill amends the Public Health Act 2016 (WA) (the Act) and aims to increase the childhood immunisation rates in Western Australia by making immunisation a condition of enrolment in childcare services, community kindergartens and schools.

The Bill also amends the Act to permit the Public Health Regulations 2017 (WA) (the Regulations) to prescribe a new category of notifiable infectious disease conditions which must be notified to the Chief Health Officer within 24 hours.

New immunisation Requirements

The Bill requires that the responsible person for a child (i.e. the parent, guardian or person in the day-to-day care of the child) to give the person in charge of the childcare, school or community kindergarten the immunisation status of the child when the child is being enrolled.

The person in charge, of a school, community kindergarten or childcare service, means the person who has responsibility for the day-to-day management and control of the school, community kindergarten or childcare service.

If the person in charge of a childcare service, school or community kindergarten fails to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the responsible person for the child complies with the above obligation they may face a fine of $1,000.

The Bill also prohibits a person in charge of a childcare service, community kindergarten or school from permitting a child to enrol unless:

  • the child’s immunisation certificate states that the child’s immunisation status is up to date; or
  • the child’s immunisation certificate states that the Chief Health Officer is satisfied that the child’s immunisation status would be up to date; or
  • the child is following a catch-up schedule prescribed by the Regulations;
  • the person in charge is satisfied that the child is an exempt child (as prescribed by the regulations).

Currently, no exempt children have been prescribed.

An immunisation certificate means:

  • an extract of an entry in the Australian Immunisation Register; or
  • a certificate issued by the Chief Health Officer; or
  • a document declared to be an immunisation certificate by the Chief Health Officer.

The penalty for a contravention of the above obligation is a fine of $10,000.

New notifiable infectious disease related conditions

Under the Act, medical practitioners, nurse practitioners and responsible pathologists must notify the Chief Health Officer if they form the opinion that a patient has, or may have, an urgently notifiable infection disease within 24 hours. In the case of a notifiable infectious disease related condition, the Chief Health Officer must be notified within 72 hours.

The Bill amends the Act to allow for the Regulations to declare urgently notifiable infection disease related conditions. If a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner or responsible pathologist forms the opinion that a patient has, or may have, an urgently notifiable infection disease related condition they must notify the Chief Health Officer within 24 hours.

The purpose of this amendment is to create a new category of notifiable infectious disease related conditions that are required to be urgently notifiable.

Currently, no urgently notifiable infectious disease related conditions have been prescribed.

The penalty for a failure to notify the Chief Health Officer in the above circumstances is a fine of $10,000.

Other amendments

The Bill also makes minor amendments to the School Education Act 1999 (WA) to ensure that it is consistent with the above changes.

 

Please click here to access the full Bill.

Contact

For further information please contact the Law Compliance team:

Phone: 1300 862 667

Email: info@lawcompliance.com.au

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