Australia to cut benefits to parents who refuse to vaccinate
Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott announced yesterday that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children may be denied tax-payer funded state benefits worth up to $15,000 AUD (€7,800). The measure will be put in place to improve immunisation rates in the country.
In the last decade, rates of children not receiving immunisation in Australia have increased by more than double, from 15,000 to 40,000.
Mr. Abbott told reporters in Sydney:
"It's a very important measure to keep our children and our families as safe as possible."
Previously families with children who did not receive vaccination on the grounds of medical, religious or personal beliefs still received annual child care financial support and other state benefits.
Controversially Mr. Abbott has stated that only strict religious or medical reasons will be accepted for failure to vaccinate. It seems likely that many may object to religious beliefs being given higher importance than strictly-held personal beliefs.
"Yes people can, if they like, object to having their kids vaccinated but if you don't have your children vaccinated, other than on strictly religious or medical grounds, you won't qualify for the supplement and you won't qualify for the child care payments."
"This is essentially a 'no jab - no pay' policy from this government. It's a very important public health announcement."
The scheme will be implemented in January 2016. More than 7,000 people have signed a petition in opposition to the proposal.