In the midst of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Australia, we’re experiencing a surge in parental disputes related to this issue. It’s crucial to understand the current situation:
As of now, no vaccine has been approved for children under the age of 16 in Australia. Moreover, the AstraZeneca vaccine isn’t approved for those below 18 years. As of 22 March 2021, we have just commenced phase 1b of the vaccine rollout, which focuses on elderly individuals aged 70 years and above. This could affect family law matters where elderly grandparents supervise visits. Also included in this phase are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 55 and older, as well as high-risk workers. However, teachers, who are in constant contact with unvaccinated children, are not specifically covered until their age category is announced.
Children under 16 aren’t included in the rollout plan until Phase 3, and only *if recommended. Importantly, the vaccine is not mandatory, so one parent cannot withhold a child from the other parent just because the other parent hasn’t been vaccinated. Moreover, government payments won’t be cut if you’re not vaccinated, despite what some might claim.
Therefore, don’t yield to any threats about withholding children until they’re vaccinated against COVID-19. As of now, children aren’t even eligible for the vaccine. There are rare instances where the courts would endorse withholding a child, and such situations are generally associated with ‘reasonable excuses.’ Alleging a risk to the child might not be enough to meet this threshold.
The court takes breaches of Parenting Orders very seriously. Penalties for breaching these orders without a reasonable excuse could range from a reprimand or fine to a change in the orders or even imprisonment in severe cases.
If you’re experiencing difficulties with the other parent over vaccine issues or threats to withhold a child (for any reason), please don’t hesitate to contact us at our Brisbane office. As some of the best family lawyers on the Gold Coast, we can provide clarity and guidance in your post-separation parenting matters.
‘Information contained in these podcasts/blogs are current as at the date of recording. Information is intended to be general information only and does not constitute legal advice. There may be updates/changes that have occurred since originally recordings. Seeking independent legal advice is recommended.’