Consumer Rights around COVID-19 in Western Australia

HCC’s General COVID-19 Info Page

This page is designed to provide information on consumer rights around COVID-19.  This page and the information on it should not be used as legal information or advice. The above link provides information on how to get proof of vaccination, current updates and resources.

The Health Consumers’ Council accepts that vaccination is a public good that demands some inconvenience and possible discomfort and risk for individuals, including parents and children. Ideally, all vaccination programs must be found on voluntary enlistment from the public and good information, choice and affordability. Program aspects that feature coercion or penalties should be avoided. However we recognise that in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with the advent of the Delta and Omicron variants, there has been a need to mandate vaccines for certain professions. Ideally aged care and disability support workers would have been prioritised to protect this vulnerable population. HCC also asserts that there should be no fault compensation readily available where there is reasonable evidence of an adverse consequence for a person who has participated in a state-sponsored vaccination program.


My right to be vaccinated

Children aged 5 and older, as well as young people and adults have the right to be vaccinated against Covid-19 with Pfizer.

Adults over 60 years old have the right to be vaccinated against Covid-19 with AstraZeneca, as do adults aged 19-59 who have discussed this with the medical professional

People aged 12 and over have the right to be vaccinated against Covid-19 with Moderna.

If you are unsure of which vaccination is right for you, discuss this with your health provider.

The vaccine is free to all living in Australia and can be booked in Western Australia through https://rollup.wa.gov.au/.  Alternatively, there are many pop-up vaccination clinics and many GP practices and pharmacies that are also offering different vaccinations.

All of the available vaccinations are administered with two shots several weeks apart, and a third shot several months later.  This is similar of many childhood vaccinations that are required to be administered several times before the individual is protected to the highest level against the disease.

Rights of children and youth to be vaccinated

Information for parents/guardians for vaccination of children aged 5-11

Children aged 5 and older, as well as young people and adults have the right to be vaccinated against Covid-19 with Pfizer.

Research shows that the Pfizer vaccine is up to 91 per cent effective in children. Parents, carers and guardians can be reassured that by vaccinating their children against COVID-19 they have done everything possible to keep their child safe from this virus.

Children will receive 2 dose of the vaccine, 8 weeks apart. The children’s dose one third of the dose for people aged 12 years and over.

People aged 12 and over have the right to be vaccinated against Covid-19 with Moderna.

The vaccine is free to all living in Australia and can be booked in Western Australia through https://rollup.wa.gov.au/.  Alternatively, there are many pop-up vaccination clinics and many GP practices and pharmacies that are also offering different vaccinations.

Currently, it is legal for one parent to take their children to be vaccinated without needing the approval of the other.

If a child or young person wants to be vaccinated, this should be discussed with their medical practitioner who can provide guidance on which vaccination is more appropriate.

There are no laws that prevent young people from visiting a doctor without their parents or guardians. However, if they plan on going alone, they should contact the doctors’ office beforehand to confirm the appointment be kept private.

While a doctor can attend an appointment with a young person without your parents or guardians, a doctor can only give medical treatment (for example, prescribe medication) if the patient is able to give informed consent. Before one can give consent to medical treatment, the doctor must make sure they understand the medical advice they have given, the consequences of any treatment, and any alternative treatments that may be available.

Young people aged 16 and over have the same medical rights and responsibilities as adults, and are also allowed to be vaccinated without parental consent.

Young people aged 14 and over have medical rights around simple medical treatments irrespective of parent/guardian consent, including being vaccinated.

Young people are afforded with confidentiality, however health professionals may contact parents/guardians in special circumstances.  If you are unsure of your right to confidentiality around getting vaccinated, check with your healthcare provider.

Young people’s rights at the doctor

My right to access proof of my vaccination or exemption status

From the 31st of January 2022, WA will embark on establishing proof of vaccination in most places around the State. It’s important you have your proof of vaccination  or exemption (listed on your immune record) available.

Services Australia Guide to getting proof of your vaccination status

For further, more detailed information, please see our other page here:

HCC’s General COVID-19 Info Page

If you can’t get proof online (which is FREE), your vaccination provider, such as a GP or pharmacist, can print your immunisation history statement for you.

The Australian Immunisation Register has advised proof of vaccination should be free from an ethical perspective of equitable access.  Despite this, private practices like GPs can charge a fee for printing the proof of vaccination.  

You can also call the Australian Immunisation Register on 1800 653 809 and ask for your statement or certificate to be posted to you. It can take up to 14 days to arrive in the post.  This is FREE.

If you have only had one dose and require proof, you can use your immunisation history statement. You can ask your vaccination provider to print this for you. This might include an email from your first vaccination at a state-run clinic, or documentation from a pharmacy or GP.

My rights around mask wearing

Face masks and Discrimination

Face mask information for WA

The current state and territory public health orders provide that if you have a medical condition or a disability that requires you to keep your face uncovered, this is a lawful exemption to having to wear a face mask.

People who have a physical or mental illness, condition or disability which makes wearing a face mask unsuitable are also exempt from the requirement. You may wish to ask your registered health practitioner or disability care provider to issue a letter confirming this.

Your workplace can and may ask for supporting medical evidence as to your exemption to wear a mask in your workplace.

It is not unlawful under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) for a person, such as an employer or a service provider, to request or require another person to provide information about a medical condition if the person making the request can demonstrate that it is not in connection with, or for the purpose of, unlawfully discriminating against the other person on the ground of disability.

If you are refused access or service and want to make a discrimination complaint against a shop owner or service provider under the DDA, you will need to show that there is a clear link between your medical condition or disability and your inability to wear a face mask.

Note: If you are not sure about whether you have a sufficiently clear link or a lawful excuse, it is best to seek advice from your medical practitioner.

If you do not have a medical condition or disability that affects your ability to wear a face mask and are refused entry or service by a shop owner or service provider because you are not wearing a mask, the refusal of entry or service will not be disability discrimination.


My rights relating to vaccination and access to services

From Monday 31 January, proof of vaccination for people aged 16 years and over will be required Western Australia-wide for:

  • Visitors to public and private hospitals, and residential aged care facilities;
  • All hospitality and food and licensed venues:
    • including restaurants, dine-in fast food, cafes, bars, pubs, clubs, taverns;
    • excluding food and non-alcoholic beverage takeaway, roadhouses, and service stations
  • Bottle shops;
  • Indoor entertainment venues, including play centres, gaming and gambling, theatres, concert halls, museums, cinemas and live music venues, including the Perth Convention Centre;
  • Nightclubs;
  • The Crown Perth complex;
  • Major stadiums;
  • Gyms, fitness studios and centres;
  • Amusement Parks and the Zoo; and
  • Music festivals and large events with more than 500 people, unless exempt.

Community sport and school-based events, unless at one of the specific venues listed, are excluded from the proof of vaccination requirement.

There are medical reasons why a person may not be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, or may choose not to in their circumstances, including because of protected attributes such pregnancy or disability. Additionally, at present, many younger Australians have not been eligible for particular COVID-19 vaccinations at all, or for shorter periods of time than older Australians.

The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (SDA), the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA) and the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth) (ADA) make it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of pregnancy, disability and age in many areas of public life, including in the provision of goods, services and facilities.

‘Disability’ is broadly defined in the DDA and includes past, present and future disabilities, as well as imputed disabilities.

A strict rule or condition that requires COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of entry, or as a condition for the delivery or provision of goods, services or facilities, may engage the ‘indirect discrimination’ provisions in the SDA, the DDA and the ADA.  However, this only applies if the person has a valid exemption from having the vaccine, like a medical exemption or an age exemption (ie children under 12).

Information on vaccination during pregnancy: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/who-can-get-vaccinated/pregnant-women

It is not anticipated that medical exemptions recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register will be granted on the basis of pregnancy alone. RANZCOG and ATAGI recommend that pregnant women are routinely offered the Pfizer vaccine (Comirnarty) at any stage of pregnancy. This is because the risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 is significantly higher for pregnant women and their unborn baby.


My rights around accessing health services and professionals

If you are vaccinated, you should not experience any barriers that you would not otherwise face.  All health, disability and aged care services and most community services will have requirements that staff, volunteers and visitors be vaccinated.

If you are unvaccinated, private health professionals and practices are legally allowed to refuse to see you face to face, or to refuse a procedure or surgery.

A medical practice or professional does not generally have to allow a person to enter the practice unless it’s an emergency.

The exceptions to this are when the unvaccinated person has a medical exemption, or when they are not of an age where the vaccination is approved for.

Doctors have the right to conscientiously object to treating patients who are not vaccinated.

Hospitals may restrict access to visitors who are unvaccinated.

Hospitals may also restrict non-emergency healthcare and treatments to patients who are unvaccinated.

Hospitals and other health services in WA currently require all staff and visitors to wear masks while on the service grounds.


My rights on getting an exemption for the COVID-19 vaccination

Exemptions on medical grounds must be obtained from the Australian Immunisation Register using their IM011 form.  Only a registered health professional can use the form.

https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/im011

This must be completed by your GP or specialist medical practitioner (not all specialists can use the form) and submitted to the Australian Immunisation Register for assessment. Where an exemption is provided, this must be given to your employer as proof of exemption. A person may apply to the Chief Health Officer for a temporary exemption. Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted to COVIDVaccinationExemption@health.wa.gov.au.

A temporary exemption will last for only a limited time and may be subject to terms and conditions. As it can take time to finalise an application for a temporary exemption, and you may be contacted to provide further information, please submit the Exemption Application Form well in advance (10 days) of the time that an exemption is required.

You may wish to also apply to the Chief Health Officer for a temporary exemption until your medical exemption application is finalised. You do not need to apply for a temporary exemption if:

  • you have a medical exemption
  • you are performing a specific duty which is exempt under the Directions
  • you are listed in the Directions as an exempt person.

 

Temporary exemptions:

Temporary Exemptions

Getting proof of your exemption

Immunisation medical exemption information

 

The only reasons you might be able to get an exemption from having a vaccine are if you:

  • had anaphylaxis after a previous dose of a vaccine
  • had anaphylaxis after a dose of any component of a vaccine
  • are significantly immunocompromised—for live vaccines only
  • have natural immunity—for hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox only.

You won’t be able to get an exemption if your reason for not having a vaccine isn’t valid.

These aren’t valid reasons:

  • mild illness without fever—meaning your temperature is below 38.5ºC
  • any family history of adverse events following immunisation
  • history of convulsions
  • treatment with antibiotics
  • treatment with locally acting steroids, inhaled or low dose topical
  • replacement corticosteroids
  • asthma, eczema, atopy, hay fever or sniffles
  • previous infection with the same pathogen
  • prematurity, vaccination shouldn’t be postponed and can be given if the infant is medically stable
  • history of neonatal jaundice
  • low weight in an otherwise healthy child
  • neurological conditions, including cerebral palsy and Down syndrome
  • contact with an infectious disease
  • child’s mother is pregnant
  • child is being breastfed
  • woman is breastfeeding
  • recent or planned surgery.

Not every health professional can grant a medical exemption. Health professionals who can grant an exemption are:

  • general practice registrars on an approved 3GA training placement
  • paediatricians
  • public health physicians
  • infectious disease physicians
  • clinical immunologists
  • GPs who meet certain criteria.

GPs need to be one of the following:

  • vocationally registered
  • a fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
  • a fellow of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM).

Your GP will know if they can grant you an exemption.

Other medical practitioners working in general practice can’t give exemptions. But they may give vaccines and provide other medical services.

To grant an exemption, they must tell us by updating the AIR or completing a form.