The anti-vaccination contingent are being forced to put their money where their mouths are.
In a move that has been described as a “world first”, Australia’s Liberal Government have linked a number of child care welfare payments to compulsory immunisations.
No Jab, No Pay
The policy known as “No Jab, No Pay” was announced on April 12th by PM Tony Abbott and is supported by the ALP and most of the Greens.
From January 2016 parents who refuse to vaccinate their children stand to miss out on payments worth up to $15,000 per year per child.
In the past parents could opt out of the National Immunisation Program Schedule, (a recommended series of shots between the ages of two months and four years), if they lodged a “conscientious objection”.
That is to say parents who had a personal, philosophical or religious belief that their child should not be immunised would be excused without financial consequence. The No Jab, No Pay policy closes this loop hole.
Exemptions for families
Families will only be exempt from the immunisation schedule for valid medical reasons. Although a small number of families may bow out on religious grounds.
Vaccinations are unsafe for a minor percentage of children due to severe allergy or illness. In these instances the parents are required to submit a Medical Contraindication Form signed by their medical practitioner.
Religious exemptions are harder to achieve. The family must be part of a religious organisation which has a formally registered objection recognised by the government.
Currently only one religious group has achieved this status. Hence this avenue is only available to a tiny number of people.
The Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison estimates that this group numbers little more than 1,000 individuals.
The Bottom Line
Everyone who falls outside these minorities will be slugged if their child’s vaccinations are not up-to-date.
The Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) will be checked at the end of each financial year when families are being assessed for the next year’s round of benefits.
Those whose have failed to comply will not be eligible for the following welfare payments.
FAMILY TAX BENEFIT PART A SUPPLEMENT:
This is a one-off annual payment of up to $726 per child.
CHILD CARE BENEFIT (CCB):
This is an income-related child care subsidy. Families with an income of up to $42,997 per year currently receive the maximum CCB of $205 week for a non school-aged child in care. The amount reduces until the family’s income hits $155,013 for a family with two children, $175,041 for a family with three children and $33,106 for each child after the third.
CHILD CARE REBATE (CCR):
This benefit is not income-related. Under this arrangement families can claim up to $7,500 per year per child to offset the cost of child care.
The Anti Vaccination Movement
The government’s hand was pushed by the anti-vax movement.
In his policy announcement speech Tony Abbott revealed that 39,000 Australian children under seven-years have not been vaccinated because their parents are conscientious objectors.
This figure is up from 24,000 a decade ago. In some areas vaccination rates are below the levels that experts deem necessary to maintain “herd immunity”. This occurs when a significant portion of the population is vaccinated and provides protection for individuals who have not been vaccinated.
Hopefully the hit to the hip pocket will discourage parents from taking a misguided stance which puts the community at risk.
The bottom line is that from next year if you fail to vaccinate on time you will miss out on thousands of dollars per year. It is a loss that most families would struggle to absorb. For many an anti-vax position is no longer affordable.