As is the ever-changing nature of the current pandemic, so too are our responses. This includes how ever changing the WA travel restrictions are due to the coronavirus. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the WA Premier’s website.
Understanding the WA travel restrictions
Shortly after the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 as a “pandemic”, Western Australia’s Minister for Emergency Services declared a state of emergency.
On 31 March 2020, the ‘Prohibition on Regional Travel Directions’ were announced pursuant to those powers under section 67 of the Emergency Management Act 2005 (WA).
In essence, the State Government introduced unprecedented restrictions on intrastate travel in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.
These restrictions prohibit non-essential travel across regional boundaries of Western Australia, defined by the:
- Perth and Peel regions (forming one region, due to their proximity);
- South West region;
- Great Southern region;
- Goldfields-Esperance region;
- Mid-West region;
- Wheatbelt region;
- Gascoyne region;
- Pilbara region; and
- Kimberley region.
This announcement was sure to have sparked fear in many separated parents.
How do WA’s travel restrictions impact shared care?
Some parents are obligated to frequently cross regional borders to comply with Court orders or agreed parenting plans. This may be for weekly handovers or for school holiday arrangements.
Regardless, all co-parents with shared care arrangements understand that there are consequences for not following arrangements.
It is true that parents that breach arrangements can avoid Family Court penalties if they can show they have a “reasonable excuse.”
However, co-parenting dynamics are precious. Any arrangements that change unexpectedly (followed by a struggle for make up time) can ultimately be damaging.
Some parents are obligated to drive their children to school in a neighbouring region every day. The other parent may then have to travel into that same neighbouring region to collect the child from school.
Whatever the case may be these parents can rest easy. The prohibition specifically stipulates that a person will not be in breach of such restrictions if they are fulfilling their obligations under a parenting plan, parenting order of a court or other parenting arrangement.
A full copy of the Prohibition on Regional Travel Directions can be found here. In addition to other exceptions specified in the Directions, those in relation to parents with shared care arrangements are as follows:
A person must not enter a region from another region except to the extent that:
- it is necessary for the person to do so for the purpose of being the primary carer for a family member or someone for whom the person has primary caring responsibility; or
- it is necessary for the person to do so for the purpose of enabling the education of someone for whom the person has parental or other primary caring responsibility;
- it is necessary for the person to do so for the purpose of fulfilling their obligations under a parenting plan, parenting order of a court or other parenting arrangement.
Parents who are parties to Family Court orders or parenting plans should keep a copy of the relevant orders. Alternatively they can plan on-hand as evidence of necessary movement between regions.