The case heard before McClelland DCJ in Division 1 of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia deals with the issue of whether a father could take and permit his child to receive the vaccination against COVID – 19 despite the mother’s resistance and concerns to do so.

The mother sought orders in the Supreme Court of New South Wales in early 2022. The court granted an injunction, prohibiting the father from getting the child vaccinated against COVID -19 until the determination of the issue in the Federal Circuit and Family Law Court. The judgement was delivered on 21 March 2023.

The main argument the mother pursued in the Family Law proceedings was whether the vaccination should be treated as a ‘major medical procedure’ under rule 1.11 of the Federal Circuit Family Court of Australian (Family Law) Rules 2021. However, the court determined the ‘proposed vaccination of the child is not a medical procedure that falls within the ambit of r 1.11’ [255].

McClelland DCJ found it “wasn’t necessary to undertake a scientific evaluation of the efficacy and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccinations”. McClelland DCJ thus explored the matter by ‘determining which parent is best equipped to make a balanced and considered determination as to whether administration of the vaccination is in the best interests if the child’ [56].

The court ordered that the sole parental responsibility and live with arrangements remain with the father. McClelland DCJ noted in his orders that ‘the father is prepared to consider the issue in a balanced and objective manner’ [261]