The Government has welcomed the passage of legislation designed to lift national immunisation rates and provide a stronger incentive for immunisation, after the Senate passed the No Jab, No Pay Bill yesterday.
“This is an important win for families, for community health and, most importantly, for the safety of our children,” Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter says.
“Diseases, like polio, tetanus and diphtheria pose a serious threat. Immunisation is the safest and most effective way to protect our children from them.”
From 1 January 2016, parents will need to ensure their child’s immunisations are up-to-date to continue receiving Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and an FTB-A payment.
“If a dangerous disease is preventable, then the Government believes we must do all we reasonably can to prevent it,” the Minister says.
“While Australia has childhood immunisation coverage of around 92%, coverage of up to 95% is required to stop the spread of diseases such as measles and whooping cough.”
“Thankfully, current generations are unlikely to have seen a child paralysed by polio, or a child with brain injury due to measles. We want to keep it that way.”
‘Vaccination objections’ on the basis of personal or philosophical beliefs will no longer be a valid immunisation exemption for these payments.
It remains the case that parents still have the right not to vaccinate their child. However, the no jab, no pay policy recognises the fact that rationales for a family’s choice not to immunise their children are not supported by public policy or medical research.
“If families choose not to vaccinate their children, this is recognised as an exercise of free choice which will have a financial impact on them,” says the Minister.
“The benefits for the broader community from high rates of immunisation are too important for the Government not to take this action designed to maintain and improve rates of immunisation coverage in Australia.”
Exemptions will still apply for children who have a natural immunity or allergies to specific medicines, if diagnosed by a general practitioner.