"No Jab, No Pay" Reforms Will Strip Anti-Vaccination Parents Of Welfare
Parents who don't vaccinate their kids could lose up to $15,000 in payments.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced reforms to tighten immunisation requirements, potentially denying parents who don't vaccinate their children of up to $15,000 in government payments.
Parents must already immunise their children in order to access the Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and Family Tax Benefit A payment.
However, they are currently able to opt out of vaccinations by signing a form stating they are a "conscientious objector". The proposed reforms – which enjoy bipartisan support – would close this option from January 1, 2016.
Medical reasons for vaccination exemptions would continue to be accepted under the reforms, while religious exemptions would be tightened. Only parents affiliated with religious groups which have had an objection formally approved by the government will be eligible.
Mr Abbott described the reforms as a "no jab, no pay policy" in a Sunday morning press conference, while Social Services Minister Scott Morrison said no mainstream religious organisations have a formal objection to immunisations.
Some have questioned the efficacy of the reforms, pointing out that many Australians who are anti-vaccinations hail from wealthier suburbs and do not rely on government benefits.
The Child Care Benefit and Family Tax Benefit A are means tested, however, the Child Care Rebate is not.