…anticipated social and indirect benefits of vaccination
In McGowan & Brennan  FedCFamC2F 1082 (17 August 2022), Judge Eldershaw determined that a nine-year-old child (X) should be vaccinated against COVID-19, where the father sought orders permitting vaccination and the mother sought restraints against vaccination.
The mother relied on adversarial expert Dr B, whose evidence included a conclusion that “there is a statistically or virtually nil risk of serious COVID-19 in general affecting children aged 5 to 11 years … ” ().
The father sought to rely on recommendations of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).
The court said (from ):
“ … [T]he existence of the health advice is common knowledge. … [T]he purpose upon which the father relies on the advice pertains to the accuracy or correctness of its substance. The substance of the advice is that of an opinion. (…)
 That said;
(a) There is no dispute that the advice of ATAGI and government health advisors is admissible in the proceedings;
(b) Pursuant to s183 of the Evidence Act, I can infer that the documents that have been prepared by … persons who are appropriately qualified …
(c) … [I]t is not necessarily essential, that the information from ATAGI be before the Court through an expert witness; and
(d) This matter concerns an evaluation of risk to a child, for which as much information as possible would assist me in making a decision. … (…)
 Dr B cites no benefit to X in obtaining the vaccine …
 ATAGI cites benefits of the vaccine which include the corollary of avoiding the risk of the disease and other wider social and/or indirect benefits.
 …[T]he risks to X from receiving … and … of not receiving the vaccine, favour neither party’s case, a point of contrast can be identified by reference to the anticipated social and/or indirect benefit to X in being vaccinated. … It is in his best interests that he … avail himself of it. (…)”
Craig Nicol and Keleigh Robinson are co-editors of The Family Law Book. Both are accredited specialists in family law (Queensland and Victoria, respectively). The Family Law Book is a one-volume loose-leaf and online family law service (thefamilylawbook.com.au).