Vaccine objectors will no longer be able to access a range of Federal Government payments from next year under new rules designed to reinforce the importance of immunisation and protecting public health.
From 1 January 2016, ‘conscientious objection’ will be removed as an exemption category for Child Care Benefits, the Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement.
Immunisation requirements for the payment of FTB Part A end-of-year supplement will also be extended to include children of all ages. Currently vaccination status is only checked at ages 1, 2 and 5 years.
Existing exemptions on medical grounds will continue, however the exemption for religious objection has also been closed.
The Federal Government made this decision after discussions with the only religious organisation with an approved vaccination exemption, the Church of Christ, Scientist, which said that it was not advising members not to vaccinate their children.
In addition, the Government has also announced a $26 million package to help boost immunisation rates by reminding parents about overdue vaccinations, as well as the importance of immunisation.
- increase incentive payments to GPs to identify and catch up children who are overdue for their vaccinations
- establish an Australian School Vaccination Register to record adolescent vaccines, and
- provide a range of communication activities, tools and resources to increase awareness and address parents' concerns about immunisation.
Member for Wentworth Malcolm Turnbull has urged parents to ensure their children’s immunisations are up to date.
Immunisation rates in eastern Sydney are among the lowest in the country.
Vaccination rates in Australia have increased since the Childhood Immunisation Register was set up in 1996. But so have the rates of vaccination objection, which have climbed steadily for children under the age of seven.
“The Government is extremely concerned at the risk this poses to other young children and the broader community,” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Turnbull said that parents who were unsure about vaccination should find out more by speaking to their GP. He said the choice not to immunise children was not supported by medical research or public policy.
"Parents who vaccinate their children should have confidence that they can take them to child care or into the community without worrying that they might get ill because of the conscientious objections of others.”
Australia now has childhood vaccination rates over 90 per cent, from one to five years of age, but further protection from preventable diseases is needed for our children and our community.
The vast majority of FTB families meet the current immunisation requirement at relevant age points (around 97 per cent).
However more than 39,000 children aged under seven are not vaccinated because their parents are vaccine objectors. This is an increase of more than 24,000 children over 10 years.
Further information about child care assistance and family payments can be found at http://www.humanservices.gov.au/
Find out more about the Government's Immunisation package at http://www.immunise.health.gov.au