Vaccination of children in family law separations
Written by Nanki Kaur
There has been a noticeable increase in disputes concerning children in separated families being vaccinated.
The Family Court’s approach to vaccination debate relies on the principles of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). Section 60CC governs the Court, ensuring that regard is given to the best interests of the child in deciding whether to make a particular parenting order. The Court will engage medical and scientific experts to seek evidence whether in the circumstances the vaccine would be deemed in the child’s best interest.
In the case of Duke-Randal & Randal  the children had contracted whooping cough and the Father sought to vaccinate the children. The Mother argued that the children were at an increased risk of experiencing “vaccine damage” due to the children’s allergies. The Court appointed a single expert immunologist to provide evidence on whether there was any medical risks to the children in receiving the vaccinations. The expert concluded that the children, given their allergies, were not and recommended that the children be vaccinated. The Mother failed to provide any evidence to support her anti-vaccination position. As such, the Family Court ordered the children be vaccinated.
Similarly, in the recent matter of Covington & Covington (2021) the Father successfully sought orders to change the child’s residence for the period in which the child’s vaccines are scheduled. The Mother opposed same and sought to remove previous Orders requiring the parties to support their child in receiving vaccinations. In her appeal to the High Court, the Mother argued that s 51 (xxiiiA) of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act includes a freedom from compulsory vaccination. It was held that the Family Court had jurisdiction to determine matters relating to the vaccination of children in parenting matters.
It is clear that cases relating to vaccination of children are determined on a case by case basis. The Court will appoint experts where necessary to ascertain whether or not the vaccination in question is in the best interest of the children.
If you have any questions about the vaccination of children in family law separation, please do not hesitate to contact our family law solicitor for more information on 03 9311 8911.