Parents who don’t vaccinate their children will no longer receive welfare benefits from the federal government.
For some noncomplying parents this could be worth up to $15,000.
Tony Abbott today announced the policy, a recommendation of the Productivity Commission’s recent inquiry into child care, after an escalation of objections to childhood immunisation under the conscientious objection clause for payments.
“This is a very important measure to keep our children and our families as safe as possible,” Abbott said today.
In a statement, Abbott revealed more than 39,000 Australian children under seven are not vaccinated “because their parents are vaccine objectors”.
“This is an increase of more than 24,000 children over 10 years,” Abbott said.
Vaccine objectors have various concerns about possible effects of immunisation jabs, but among the most common is the belief that some vaccines can cause developmental problems including autism. The link is completely discredited by research and scientists have repeatedly said there is no link. The initial study that suggested a connection has been withdrawn by the journal that published it.
Welfare assistance such as the childcare benefit of up $205 a week, the childcare rebate of up to $7500 a year or the Family Tax Benefit A annual supplement of up to $726, are all risk of being denied should parents choice to not vaccinate their child, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
It is expected that the legislation will become effective next January 1.
According to The National Health Performance Authority, while Australia has vaccination rates over 90 per cent for under-5s, it still does not meet the recommendations of the World Health Organisation.
“The WHO has advocated an immunisation rate of greater than 93–95% for all districts within
a country to ensure measles elimination.”
And there is still a large number of Australian children who have not had any vaccinations, or have only received some doses.
According to the report, in 2012–13 there were 75,002 Australian children aged 1, 2 or 5 years who were not fully immunised.
Far West NSW had the lowest number of children not fully immunised for the three age groups with 146 children not fully immunised, where as Western Sydney recorded the highest number with 3,594 children not fully immunised.
The report also found that between 2012–13, 14,869 children had not been vaccinated due to a “conscientious objection” by a parents or guardians.
“Among 5 year olds, the percentage of children with a conscientious objection recorded ranged from
close to 0.0% in Far West NSW to 7.1% in Sunshine Coast (Qld).”
The five Medicare catchments with the greatest number of children registered with a conscientious objection to vaccinations were the North Coast of NSW with 761 children, followed by the Greater Metro South Brisbane with 755, the Metro North Brisbane with 708, Sunshine Coast with 660 and the Gold Coast with 652.
The report continued by explaining that the children who are not fully immunised are spread unevenly across the country.
Whooping cough notifications exploded in NSW in 2011, causing doctors to be concerned that lower levels of immunity in the population could lead to infant deaths.
In 2011 there were more than 13,000 cases recorded in the state, and while the trend has dropped it is still a serious problem, picking up again in 2014 with 3129 falling ill to the sickness and already this year 1583 have been diagnosed.
Just last month four-week-old Riley John Hughes died in Perth’s Princess Margaret Hospital of whooping cough.
Riley’s was the first whooping cough death in Western Australia since 2011.
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