Queensland’s “No Jab, No Play” pro-vaccination legislation came into effect on January 1, but the state’s biggest childcare operator, Creche and Kindergarten (C&K), will not make use of the legislation’s power to ban children who are not up-to-date with their vaccinations.
According to a report on ABC Online, C&K CEO Michael Tizard said the organisation’s 143 centres would not be excluding any children.
Citing “children’s rights”, Tizard told the ABC that “It’s not our intention to exclude children that are not vaccinated from early childhood education opportunities.”
The No Jab, No Play legislation was passed by the Queensland government with bipartisan support last October. It gives childcare organisations the right to refuse entry to non-vaccinated children from their facilities. However, any such decision by an organisation is optional not mandatory.
“We’re aware that probably the minority of families that are not vaccinating are conscientious objectors,” Tizard said. “We also believe a significant number of unvaccinated children are from families where there might be issues or from disadvantaged communities, and we feel excluding children from … early childhood opportunities just further disadvantages them.”
C&K’s stated policy is to support “inclusion for all children and this is one of the features that make our C&K services so unique”.
Tizard told the ABC that the No Jab, No Play campaign “was important because it raised awareness in the community about unvaccinated children and the importance of vaccination”.
“C&K is very pro-vaccination, so we’re fully supportive of children being vaccinated, and we’re fully supportive of public education programs that educate parents about the importance of vaccinations,” he said.
But Tizard said open access had always been C&K’s policy and it had strict infection control guidelines in its centres to prevent illness from spreading.
“I know some parents may be concerned that there’s unvaccinated children in a centre but it’s been our policy position,” he told the ABC.
“We discussed it with our educators and they’re very children’s-rights-focused and see the importance of a high-quality early childhood education program for children.
“For those parents that struggle to get around to it and need additional support we’re also supportive of programs that will assist them to understand the importance of vaccination and get them there and get their children vaccinated.”
In Queensland, only 91 per cent of under five-year-olds are fully immunised.