Government cracking down on child immunisation with new bill
On Wednesday, the federal government announced its decision to pass a law withholding child care and other benefits from parents who fail to immunise their children.
The "No Jab, No Pay" bill introduced to parliament is the federal government's reaction to Australian parents who do not wish to vaccinate their children, and could result in those parents losing thousands of dollars in government assistance.
According to the Associated Press, the government will also be removing the "conscientious objector" provision from the welfare bill — which previously allowed parents to qualify for government benefits without immunising their children.
"The choice made by some families not to vaccinate their children is not supported by public policy or medical research, nor should such action be supported by taxpayers in the form of family payments," social services minister Scott Morrison told parliament.
The results will reportedly cause families who fail to vaccinate their children to lose up to $15,000 per child each year in child care and tax benefits, beginning from Jan. 1, 2016. Exceptions will only apply to those who have well-founded medical reasons.
The Associated Press reports that 97 per cent of Australian families who claim tax benefits already do vaccinate their children, but the government revealed that the statistics of children under 7 who have not been immunised has increased from 24,000 to 39,000. This increase correlates with the increase in the number of parents who are objectors.
This is a very sensitive issue, but reactions to the bill have reportedly been positive — and some evidence of this can be seen on social media.
For more information about what immunisation is, statistical information about childhood immunisation and common myths surrounding it, you can visit the Australian Government Department of Health, BetterHealth and the Australian Government Department of Human Services.
Some parents will feel that this bill is taking away their freedom of choice, while others appear in favour of the bill. It's a topic that is delicate and will no doubt give rise to much debate.