Children aged 5 and over are now eligible to receive a the COVID-19 vaccine. Unsurprisingly, many parents are now asking important questions about the COVID-19 vaccine such as…:

  • Does my child need the vaccine?
  • Is it (or will it be) mandatory for day care / childcare / school?  
  • What if I want my child vaccinated but my child’s mother, father or other parent disagrees?


Decisions relating to the health of a child, including vaccinations, are considered ‘major long term’ issues pursuant to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). Parents are required to consult with each other and genuinely attempt to reach agreement about whether or not to have their child or children vaccinated against COVID-19.


Parents should consider the best interests of the children when making this important decision and consideration should be given to the requirements of the children’s day care / childcare / school, the children’s potential exposure to COVID-19 (e.g. if the children are regularly in contact with front-line workers) and any underlying health concerns the children may have when making this important decision. Of course, parents should be guided by the advice of the family’s General Practitioner and any other medical specialists treating the child or children.


Despite vaccination being a decision that is required to be made jointly by parents (unless one parent exercises sole parental responsibility for a child’s health pursuant to Court Orders) not all parents agree on this issue – so what should you do if you are unable to reach an agreement about whether your child will be vaccinated or not?


First, you must attempt to make a genuine effort to resolve the issue. Depending on your relationship with the other parent, and provided it is safe to do so, you should attempt to resolve this directly with them. If you are unsuccessful and no agreement can be reached, then you may consider involving a third party to assist. The third party could be either a family dispute resolution practitioner, a counsellor or psychologist, who can assist parents in facilitating the conversation about the issue of vaccination with a view to reaching agreement.


If parents are unable to reach agreement as to whether or not to vaccinate their children and have attended compulsory Family Dispute Resolution, then either parent may then issue proceedings in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia’s National COVID-19 List seeking that the Court determine the issue. The National COVID-19 List includes as one of the matters which may give rise to an application in that list is Vaccinations: at the relevant time, there is a dispute about a child being vaccinated against COVID-19.”


Parents should consider that many private day cares, childcares and schools may require all enrolled children to be vaccinated as a condition of enrolment. For public educational institutions, public health is a State Government responsibility and in Victoria, the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic) provides that the Chief Medical Officer can issue a public health order requiring a person to receive a vaccine.


The above does not constitute legal advice, but is information which may be of general interest. If you require specific advice about this issue, please contact a member of the TLFC family law team on (03) 8600 9333.


The above does not constitute legal advice, but is information which may be of general interest. Tisher Liner FC Law will not be held liable or responsible for any claim, which is made as a result of any person relying upon the information contained in this publication.