The NSW Public Health Act 2010 contains requirements for child care facilities (early childhood education and care centres), which include that directors of child care facilities are to be provided with a vaccination certificate on enrolment of each child. Parliament has passed a Bill to amend the Public Health Act, including amendments to the section on responsibilities of child care facilities.
The NSW Parliament passed a Bill to amend the Public Health Act 2010 to strengthen vaccination enrolment requirements in child care (also known as early childhood education and care).
From 1 January 2018:
Importantly, the vast majority of children will be unaffected by the changes as over 93% of children in NSW are fully vaccinated at one and five years of age (see
HealthStatsNSW). When last measured in December 2015, parental conscientious objection affected only around 1.15% of children aged 0-7 years in NSW. Children who cannot be fully vaccinated due to a medical condition or who are on a recognised catch-up schedule will still be able to be enrolled upon presentation of the appropriate form signed by a medical practitioner.
The new requirements do not change other existing provisions. A register of the age appropriate vaccination documentation still needs to be maintained for each child (a register template is available at
Strengthening vaccination requirements for child care) and in the event of specified vaccine preventable disease outbreak in a child care centre the public health officer can exclude children who are not vaccinated for that disease to protect them from infection and prevent them from passing diseases to others.
Since 1 January 2014, NSW child care centres have been prevented under the Public Health Act 2010 from enrolling children unless approved documentation is provided that indicates that the child:
The Interim Vaccination Objection Form for Enrolment in NSW Child Care Centres has been deleted and can no longer be accepted for the purposes of enrolling children in child care from 1 January 2018. To support the integrity of these changes, offences have been created for principals of child care centres who fail to comply with these requirements, and for people who forge or falsify vaccination records. NSW Health has worked closely with stakeholders to develop educational materials for
child care centres to support compliance.
Enrolment is the process of accepting and booking a guaranteed place for a child in a specific childcare centre for the first time involving completion of an enrolment form, provision of other documentation (i.e. birth certificate, proof of address, AIR Immunisation History Statement) and often payment of a deposit.
Note: making a request for care, or placing a child on a waitlist, is not enrolment. Also, enrolment does not include the processes of committing an enrolled child to continued attendance in subsequent years at the same child care centre (sometimes known as 're-enrolment').
Children who were enrolled prior to 1 January 2018 are not affected by the changed requirements.
From 1 January 2018, parents must provide a copy of one or more of the following documents to enrol in a child care centre:
No other form of documentation is acceptable (i.e. the Interim Vaccination Objection Form or Blue Book). The documents must be stored by the director in a secure location for 3 years, unless a child transfers to another child care centre.
NSW Immunisation Schedule sets out the age-appropriate vaccines for children and the AIR Immunisation History Statement will indicate if the child is up to date with their vaccinations.
Principals of child care centres cannot enrol children if the required documents are not provided.
The following are
permanently exempt from the new requirements:
The following classes of children are can be enrolled without the approved forms but directors of child care facilities must make reasonable efforts to ensure that parents provides the approved forms
within 12 weeks from the date of enrolment in the child care facility:
These changes have been made to strengthen vaccination enrolment requirements in child care. In particular, they will:
The changes will also align with national changes under the Australian Government’s
No Jab No Pay initiative that removed the conscientious objection exemption in determining eligibility for child care and family assistance payments.
Yes. Vaccination is not compulsory and parents will continue to have the choice whether or not to vaccinate their child. However, conscientious objectors can no longer enrol their children in child care and will need to make alternative arrangements.
The only unimmunised children who can be enrolled in child care after 1 January 2018 are those who are on a recognised catch-up schedule (provided that the
appropriate documentation has been provided), or those who are unimmunised due to medical reasons as described in the
Australian Immunisation Handbook) (provided that the
appropriate documentation has been provided), or children who are too young to be immunised (under 2 months of age).
Children who are unimmunised for a disease may be asked to stay at home if there is an outbreak of that vaccine preventable disease in a child care centre.
Parents automatically receive their child’s AIR Immunisation History Statement in the mail after they complete their immunisation schedule (sometime after 4 years of age).
A copy of their child's immunisation details can also be obtained at any time by:
Overseas immunisation records must
not be accepted by child care centres. The overseas immunisation records need to be assessed by an Australian immunisation provider who will transfer the information to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). Parents can then request an AIR Immunisation History Statement.
NSW Public Health Act 2010 child care centres must notify the following 9 vaccine preventable diseases to the local Public Health Unit on
1300 066 055:
The Public Health Unit may need to review the centre's immunisation register to determine which children are at risk from the outbreak.
Following assessment of the situation, the public health officer may instruct the director to exclude certain children for a period, or provide advice regarding preventive measures.
No. Child care centres are not required to transfer AIR Immunisation History Statements or exemption documentation to primary school principals when a child leaves a child care centre, however they must retain the information for 3 years.
New offences have been created to ensure that principals only enrol children for whom the appropriate forms have been provided, and that these forms have not been forged or falsified, with fines up to $5,500.
This is in addition to the current regulatory activities undertaken by the Department of Education under the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations.
More information about the new requirements is available by contacting your local Public Health Unit on
1300 066 055.