Trial for teacher on COVID-19 jab mandate

A casual relief teacher is challenging Victoria's vaccine mandate for school and childcare staff.
A casual relief teacher is challenging Victoria's vaccine mandate for school and childcare staff.

A casual relief teacher is taking the state's health officials to court over mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, arguing there's no legal or ethical justification for requiring the jab.

Belinda Cetnar and her husband Jack have filed a case against the State of Victoria, claiming all school and childcare staff have their first vaccine by October 18 is discriminatory and a breach of human rights.

Ms Cetnar says she is a casual relief teacher while Mr Cetnar is a horticulturalist employed by Crest Education.

"The proposed directives to mandate Covid-19 vaccines for school or childcare staff is not a proportionate response to the Covid-19 pandemic in circumstances where there is a 99.9 per cent survival rate and children mostly suffer mild effects from the disease," she said in court documents.

She said the blanket mandate didn't consider the human rights of those it was imposed on and there had been a failure to consider less restrictive means to achieve the intended purpose, including rapid antigen tests and PPE.

Ms Cetnar represented the couple in a hearing in the Supreme Court on Tuesday and said they were trying to find a barrister to help them with their case.

They had asked for an injunction to stop the vaccine mandate being introduced but that happened before the case came to court so now they have been granted until October 12 to put together a new case.

A trial will be held on October 25.

Justice Melinda Richards said they had a well developed argument under Victoria's Charter of Human Rights but questioned other aspects of their case.

Their current written case refers to civil conscription in the constitution, the commonwealth Biosecurity Act and the Nuremberg Code.

"It does appear to me it could do with an experienced lawyer's eye and perhaps some refinement of the grounds on which you challenge the directions," she said.

Ms Cetnar argued she would lose her livelihood if she fails to get vaccinated, while Mr Cetnar faces losing his too. Both their roles cannot be fulfilled off site, she said.

"Schools and childcare centres will face loss of valued staff members which cannot be remedied by damages," she argued.

Justice Richards will proceed straight to a final decision in the trial on October 25, a move welcomed by the state's barrister Sarala Fitzgerald.

It's expected that acting Chief Health Officer Ben Cowie, who signed off on the directions, will be added as a defendant to the case.

"Professor Cowie is trying to steer this shop over the next three months, through goalposts, to have us in our homes with 30 people by Christmas," she said.

"There is a lot on all these public health experts' plates and I just ask the court to be mindful all these people, whose time I will be demanding, are also trying to do something else incredibly important."

Ms Cetnar has been contacted for comment.

Premier Daniel Andrews noted that young children are still unable to get vaccinated.

"So why anyone would want to be in a school community contributing to the spread of this virus - it makes no sense to me," he said.

Australian Associated Press