The Government has passed a No Jab, No Pay Policy to help improve Australia’s national immunisation rates.
It will come in to effect on January 1st 2016. This means that families will only receive child care and family tax payments if their children are immunised according to the schedule.
The Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, released a statement today saying that the No Jab, No Pay bill was passed in the Senate this afternoon.
“This is an important win for families, for community health and, most importantly, for the safety our children,” Porter said.
“Diseases, like polio, tetanus and diphtheria pose a serious threat. Immunisation is the safest and most effective way to protect our children from them.”
Parents will have to ensure their children's immunisations are up-to-date from the first day of next year if they want to continue receiving Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit Part A.
“If a dangerous disease is preventable, then the Government believes we must do all we reasonably can to prevent it,” Mr Porter said.
Reporting on the new policy (Post continues after the video)...
Australia has a childhood immunisation coverage of about 92 per cent. However Porter said that we need at least 95 percent coverage to stop the spread of preventable diseases like 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," he said.
The statement said that refusing vaccinations because of personal beliefs will no longer be a valid exemption. It pointed out that parents still have a right to not vaccinate their children, they are not being forced to do so. But if the rationale for a family's choice not to vaccinate their children isn't supported by public policy or medical research they will not receive Government benefits.
“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. 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,” Mr Porter said.
There will still be exemptions for children who have a natural immunity or are allergic to specific medications. These must be diagnosed by a general practitioner.