Yesterday, the Australian government announced that from January 2016, parents who refuse to vaccinate their children stand to lose thousands of dollars of childcare and welfare benefits. The plan, which is the first of its kind in the world, abolishes the 'conscientious objection' vaccination exemption that has reportedly seen 39,000 children miss out on vaccinations.
"The overwhelming advice of those in the health profession is it's the smart thing and the right thing to do to immunise your children," Social Services Minister Scott Morrison told the press, adding that the decision had bipartisan support and was backed by the Australian Medical Association (AMA), which represents 27,000 doctors practising locally.
According to the AAP, the number of parents who have taken the 'conscientious objection' stance against vaccination has more than doubled over the past decade. While there is the concern that children whose parents don't need government payments might still suffer from the ramifications of their parents' political stance against vaccinations, the thousands that the plan will help is justification enough.
"Vaccination remains one of the most effective public health measures that we have," AMA President, Brian Owler, told the press agency. "Whatever we can do to increase vaccination rates is important."
"[I don't accept] people just claiming some sort of loose, undefined conscientious objection not to do the right thing by their children," Opposition Leader Bill Shorten added.
A small percentage of anti-vaccers will still be able to claim the right to not vaccinate their kids on religious grounds, but the government says the criteria for this will be stricter than before.
"Under the plan, recommended by the Productivity Commission in a recent inquiry into child care, parents who decide against immunisations could be up to $15,000 worse off per child," the AAP reports. "They would lose a childcare benefit of up to $205 a week, the childcare rebate of up to $7500 a year or the Family Tax Benefit A annual supplement of up to $726."
Nice to see Australia do something socially progressive - it's been a while.
Source: Sky News