Abbott government withdraws childcare payments for anti-vaccination parents

Apr 15, 2015

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

By Stephanie Peatling

Parents who are “conscientious objectors” to childhood vaccination will have their childcare and family tax payments stopped from 1 January next year as the federal government attempts to crack down on the anti-vaccination movement.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Sunday a loophole would be closed to stop payments to parents worth up to $15,000 per child.

“Parents who vaccinate their children should have confidence that they can take their children to childcare without the fear that their children will be at risk of contracting a serious or potentially life-threatening illness because of the conscientious objections of others,” Mr Abbott said.

Although Australia’s overall childhood vaccination rates remain high – about 97 per cent – the numbers of people who are registered conscientious objectors has risen in the past 10 years.

There are now 39,000 children aged under seven who are not vaccinated because their parents are registered, according to the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register.


Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

38 comments on “Abbott government withdraws childcare payments for anti-vaccination parents

  • But guess what!!!

    @OP -link – But people with religious reasons will have their eligibility for government payments tightened.

    They will only continue to receive childcare and family tax payments if they are affiliated with a religious group whose governing body has a formally registered objection approved by the federal government.

    The change will need to be approved by Parliament.

    So you Aussies on this site need to get to your MPs to discuss this!



    Report abuse

  • The problem is a wave of people who avoid vaccination because they think it is unfashionable. This has been growing rapidly in Australia. The fixed set of religious objectors are not the problem.

    I contend the religious objectors are bogus. There were no such thing as vaccines in 2000 years ago. No mainstream religion could possibly have a long-standing objection.

    Further, just because you believe in sky fairies and crackers that turn into putrefied corpses, it should not rate a get-out-of-jail-free card for attempted murder on your neighbours. When you refuse to vaccinate, you endanger people who cannot vaccinate for valid medical reasons (.e. compromised immune system). Their right to life trumps your right to be silly.

    I don’t know anything else about Mr Abbott, but he shows some backbone.



    Report abuse

  • The Minister responsible for the roll out of the program stated during interview that the religious objection while available, will very rarely be accepted because research undertaken prior to the release, indicated that almost no religion had a religious objection.

    Still leaves the option open to create a new religion. All hail the savior, Samuel Hahnemann. With the devil depicted as having a surgical suite and mask with syringes for fingers. They could call it the Anti Antibody Church for shallow trendies.



    Report abuse

  • Meanwhile, the Abbott government, on record as deniers of global warming have announced,

    Australia’s $20 billion alternative energy sector has been plunged into fresh uncertainty after the federal government indicated further policy changes to reduce the reliance on wind and solar power, potentially leaving billions of dollars invested in the sector stranded or devalued.

    Signalling it wants to reduce the 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020 to what it calls “a real 20 per cent”, the Abbott government has proposed reducing the agreed green energy target of 41,000 gigawatt hours of baseline power by 2020 to closer to 26,000 gigawatt hours.

    If global warming involved antibodies, we would be saved. Cherry picking science for political gain.



    Report abuse

  • 6
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Actually the religious exeption could be one gigantic loophole that effectively invalidates the whole thing. I hope that’s not the case and that the Aussie Gov. will avail itself with the legal means to outwit those who join a religious group solely to circumvent the law.



    Report abuse

  • Hi David R Allen,

    Haven’t been following the news lately, I had heard that a) there was a religious exemption but that almost no-one who would get it. How the hell do they make a distinction between one ridiculous exemption and another? Have you any idea which religion is exempt and why?

    Having said that I largely support this which is almost the first time I could say that about this government.



    Report abuse

  • only hope he is the PM they choose to take to the next election…

    Concur… Hoping the polls stay good enough to retain Abbott, but not good enough to win. My nightmare is Abbott is rolled, and Turnbull gets them back in, but then is kept on a tight leash by the conservative extremists and nothing changes.



    Report abuse

  • 11
    old-toy-boy says:

    There cannot be any religious objections, Can anyone name any religion, that even mentions the existance of viruses, in their holy books?



    Report abuse

  • 12
    old-toy-boy says:

    Shame that it will be children that suffer, otherwise it is a good idea.

    Now if only get rid of all the idiots who do not accept evolution, by using some sort of goverment policy using biology … I am starting to form an idea … Perhaps those who do not accept evolution, should not be allowed to use the products of evolution.. (just thinking out loud).



    Report abuse

  • In as much as anyone has the right to refuse medical treatment for themselves or for a minor that they have responsibility for, this is just wrong. Having said that the anti vaxxers are just wrong! Have they forgotten that just a few decades ago the diseases that vaccinations protect against killed many children? Also left many handicapped for life. If the Australian government is really serious about this, why not make it outright illegal, on pain of a fine or imprisonment for non-compliance. Of course they won’t too politically risky!



    Report abuse

  • Chris
    Apr 17, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    In as much as anyone has the right to refuse medical treatment for themselves or for a minor that they have responsibility for, this is just wrong.

    Why?

    If the Australian government is really serious about this, why not make it outright illegal, on pain of a fine or imprisonment for non-compliance.

    Is there much difference between withholding childcare payments and a fine?

    The religious exemptions are wrong – as there is no reason why idiot religions should not pay a financial penalty for their stupidity!



    Report abuse

  • This won’t go down well on this forum, but personally, I reserve the right (with all the means at my disposal) to decide for myself what medication to take, and I reserve that same right to make decisions on behalf of any children of mine who are too young to make decisions for themselves, while I am of sound mind.

    I regard the consequences of some people misjudging the medical establishment, as less harmful (even if some children die) than the consequences of the State setting a precedent for mandating medication.

    Firstly, the State’s intentions might not always be benevolent. Secondly, the State might be hoodwinked by other agencies (the pharmaceutical industry, for example). Thirdly, the State might be wrong – there is a possibility that the science is wrong.

    When one is weighing up the benefits of enforcing what seems to be a “no-brainer” course of action, it is as well to keep in mind that the will of the majority doesn’t automatically trump the will of the individual, whatever the source of “certainty” on the part of that majority.



    Report abuse

  • And you’ll be happy to take the consequences that most other parents would nowadays seek to shun your risky children from the playgroup, perhaps voting for that?

    Will you be perfectly happy to take your kids on busses and planes and trains? Let them visit pregnant mums? Old folk?

    What innoculation is or has been insufficiently evidenced for you?



    Report abuse

  • In a democracy, governments are supposed to make and if necessary enforce laws which are in the public interest. Think traffic laws, laws against pedophilia, etc. Some in the community think it’s OK to drive at 180 km/h on a public street. Some think it’s perfectly OK to have sex with children. In these cases, the government takes action to protect the public interest and deals with those individuals. Anti-vaxxers are much the same, as their lack of action in vaccinating their offspring, potentially endangers the entire community. If this was really a matter of informed choice, their anti-vaxx stance might be tolerable. That isn’t really the case, as misinformation and wilfull ignorance appears to be at the heart of this particular debate. Anti-vaxxers may still choose not to vaccinate their offspring. When they do from now on, they’ll also be choosing to cut themselves off from some of the fiscal largesse provided by the (largely vaccinating) community of Australian taxpayers. It’s a choice. Abbott deserves a big thumbs up for this particular course of action.



    Report abuse

  • I didn’t say it has been insufficiently evidenced for me. I said I reserve the right to make that decision for myself and my children.

    It’s not the main thrust of my argument, but in the case of vaccinations, those who are vaccinated aren’t really at risk… This issue is about weighing up whether I should be allowed to make decisions that a majority other people think are bad for my children.



    Report abuse

  • We agree that Governments should make decisions that are in the public interest. We are disagreeing about what best serves that interest.

    I think vaccinations are a good idea. But I think a more important idea is that governments shouldn’t take steps towards making medications mandatory, as a matter of principle. As with all principles involving civil liberties, one can conceive of circumstances of dangerous and imminent emergency for which exceptions should be made, but vaccination isn’t one of them.

    I’m not out to convince you – the possibility of any intelligent person relinquishing a cherished idea is very remote in practice, despite everyone agreeing that debate is the way to effect change. I am just stating my contrary and subjective viewpoint about the value of one societal principle over the value of another.



    Report abuse

  • Kudos. It’s the best effort yet to stop flat-earthers endangering the rest of us. The unspoken target is those who simply couldn’t be bothered and just don’t care. There will be very few formally recognised religious exemptions as the objection must come from the organisation, not the individual and thus far there are a handful.



    Report abuse

  • I said I reserve the right to make that decision for myself and my children.

    Then you have said nothing. We all reserve the right dependent on the evidence.

    those who are vaccinated aren’t really at risk

    And those who can’t be vaccinated yet like neonates???



    Report abuse

  • Philosophically, I actually agree with you. Philosophically, I don’t support the payment of welfare to parents either, so if it was left to me this kind of deterent or incentive would not exist. In this case, I do see mandatory vaccination as a public good, especially having listened to the silly arguments of thise who are opposed to vaccines.

    Frankly, I think that Tony Abbott (a practicing Catholic) belongs in a mental asylum. In this case, I think he has managed to get much more right than he has wrong.



    Report abuse

  • Then you have said nothing. We all reserve the right dependent on the
    evidence.

    I said I reserve the right to make the decision. How is that saying nothing, in the context of State coercion? If you’re asking how I might practically reserve that right in the face of a law, that’s a tricky one to answer. How does one assert anything one holds dear, against the rule of law? In this case, all the more tricky because I think vaccinations are a good idea!

    And those who can’t be vaccinated yet like neonates???

    I am sure you can find a few examples of people who would be at risk because I choose not to be vaccinated. Weighing up their rights against mine is a valid exercise. If that genuinely is a significant risk in practice, it should be identified as the the very specific rationale for enforcing vaccination. The reality is, lots of things we do (or don’t do) present a risk to others. I believe we get diminishing returns in curtailing individual and civil liberties and principles in an effort to reduce risk.

    As I said in another reply below, I am not hoping to change your mind, I am expressing my alternative weighing up of a moral problem, from the same scientific evidence as you.



    Report abuse

  • We agree that Governments should make decisions that are in the public interest. We are disagreeing about what best serves that interest.

    You make the libertarian argument. Govt’s shouldn’t be able to tell me what to do. And there is some substance in that argument for good reason, because you can end up with Stasiland. I’ve read yours and Gavin’s comments. I suspect that the difference is where do each of your draw the line. You exclude compulsory vaccination. Gavin includes it.

    Your arguments is encapsulated in this paragraph of yours.

    Firstly, the State’s intentions might not always be benevolent. Secondly, the State might be hoodwinked by other agencies (the pharmaceutical industry, for example). Thirdly, the State might be wrong – there is a possibility that the science is wrong.

    In functioning democracies like Australia and the US, this does not apply. The democracies are strong enough, and there is still enough independent 4th estate to prevent this. So I would respectfully suggest this view is a little paranoid for these countries. I don’t know where you are from, but it gets strong echo’s from the right wing of the US. Some sort of cultural thing not present in the rest of the world.

    Vaccination is not a subject where there is wavering science. So I am quite happy on this occasion, for the state to legislate a compulsion, to prevent the vast majority of citizens from an irrational few. The threats you cite are not present on this occasion. This is the most recent incident in Australia, that has prompted this government decision. This death was caused by selfish irrational people. ISIS? I want the state to protect me from them.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-18/baby-dies-of-whooping-cough-in-perth/6329244



    Report abuse

  • The only registered religion which is except at present is Scientology! It seems the more anti science the religion the more the Government accepts it as a valid reason not to vaccinate!



    Report abuse

  • Michael while I can understand that you wish to retain the right to make decisions about what you put into your own body, what gives you the right, or even the belief you should have the right, to take an action that will have potentially dire results for others. The anti-vaxxer woman who’s children recently contracted a serious case of whooping cough came to this “startling” realisation with a big crash. A crash brought about by the fact that she had deliberately chosen an action that resulted in her children contracting a disease for which there is a very safe vaccination. She had made decisions for her children that had serious repercussions because she reserved this right (despite having been vaccinated as a child along with the rest of us).

    It is one thing to reserve a right that only affects you, but this is not the case with vaccinations. I realise there are conspiracy nutters out there who screech about “Big-Pharma” but this is real life not a Grisham novel and the science on vaccinations is well and truly in. Further, the State sometimes takes a decision to impose restrictions on all or most citizens and it is done with good reason. When seat belt wearing became mandatory in Australia I remember all the people who complained about this imposition by the State, except it was the taxpayer who bore the cost of expensive medical treatments for survivors – but badly damaged survivors of serious accidents. The State imposes these requirements on us to make sure our children are also protected. Many people still complain about mandatory wearing of bike helmets, yet the costs (monetary and societal) of serious head and brain injuries, often to minors, trumps the individual’s rights to risk their own body.

    At that point in time when someone not vaccinating their child has no consequences for anyone else in society, then I will support your right to do what you want for yourself and to convince your child s/he should live in a bubble so they cannot contract a disease. Up until then, your rights must be secondary to the rights of all the other people who may be affected by your decision. I would not hold your breath (or force your child to hold his/her breath). Have a great day.



    Report abuse

  • Wrong.

    Sorry, but we all live by a set if democratic rules as created and enforced by the Government.

    But, the rules apply to ALL of society, not just those receiving a benefit.

    People earning more than $150,000 per annum will not be affected by this policy, so they will bear no “penalty” if they choose to refuse vaccination.

    So, if The Government was truly serious about increasing the levels of vaccinated children, they would need to penalise those who are not on benefits by $15,000 per year via a tax surcharge.

    This policy is discriminatory.



    Report abuse

  • When seatbelts were introduced, all people were fined.

    When bike helmets are not being worn, all riders are fined.

    Here’s an idea. Fine each non-vaxxer $15,000 per annum regardless of income. And add some.demerit points also (like they do on motor vehicle fines) to deal with those people who think $15,000 is small change.



    Report abuse

  • David R Allen
    Apr 17, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Vaccination is not a subject where there is wavering science. So I am quite happy on this occasion, for the state to legislate a compulsion,

    In these sorts of issues, I am reminded of the advice in a previous employment from one of the directors:-

    “Codes and regulations, are for the guidance of sages and the instruction of idiots!”



    Report abuse

  • There will be very few formally recognised religious exemptions as the objection must come from the organisation, not the individual and thus far there are a handful.

    Christian Scientists, a church that originate in America got an exemption in 2012 from vaccination. It is the only church in Australia with such an exemption. No other churches will be admitted to this exemption. Christian Scientists (an oxymoronic name) has only around 1400 members in Australia. This is part of a news story in the issue.

    But under government guidelines, parents and carers must produce a letter from a church leader stating they are a practising member of the organisation before they can be granted an official exemption. On that basis Sydney University’s David Smith doubts there will be a sudden surge in adherents here in Australia.

    I can see the protests and fence chainings coming. I can see the court challenge going all the way to the High Court. There is nothing as noisy as a closed mind.



    Report abuse

  • Our Sunday night news broadcast indicates the religious exemption to vaccination has also been withdrawn. There is now no reason apart from a medical condition that will allow for exemption. Parents can still refuse vaccination, but it means they will loose thousands of dollars in Govt benefits and tax concessions.



    Report abuse

  • They now need to get the act together on other vaccinations in other countries, – unfortunately, “the government is not going to dictate to me” brigade, along with apathy and ineptitude, will continue to help the diseases proliferate.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-32336099
    .Around 59,000 people die every year from rabies transmitted by dogs, with the poorer regions of the world worst affected, says a report by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control.

    The report authors said more should be done to vaccinate dogs, particularly in low-income countries.

    Vaccines for bite victims should also be more affordable and more widely available in these areas.

    Rabies is a fatal viral infection which is almost 100% preventable.

    The infection can infect all mammals, but domestic dogs cause more than 99% of all human deaths from rabies, the report said.

    Death burden

    Most developed countries, including the UK, have eliminated rabies from their dog populations.

    But in many developing countries, rabies is still present in domestic dogs and is often poorly controlled.

    The report estimated that around 160 people die every day from the disease, with the vast majority of these occurring in Asia, which accounts for 60% of deaths, and Africa (36%).

    On its own, India accounts for 35% of human rabies deaths, more than any other country.

    The report said that the proportion of dogs vaccinated in almost all countries in Africa and Asia is far below that necessary to control the disease.

    It said the best and most cost-effective way of preventing canine rabies was by vaccinating dogs.

    And this had to be supplemented by improving access to human vaccines as well.



    Report abuse

  • David R Allen
    Apr 15, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    Meanwhile, the Abbott government, on record as deniers of global warming have announced, . . . . . . .

    This news is going to lead to some interesting “faith debates”!

    Vatican urges action on climate changehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-32487874

    The Vatican Science Academy will urge Christians to take action on climate change because it threatens the world’s poor.

    The Academy is being addressed on the issue by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

    Next month the Pope is due to deliver an Encyclical, an official statement, on the dangers of heating the climate.

    It may be controversial among Catholic conservatives in the US, many of whom say climate change is entirely natural.

    But Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, who heads the Academy, told BBC News that Christians were obliged to be stewards of the Earth and protect the poor – which meant taking action to safeguard the climate.

    He said the oil industry was fomenting distrust of science in the US because it did not want society to change.



    Report abuse

  • David R Allen
    Apr 15, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    Meanwhile, the Abbott government, on record as deniers of global warming have announced, . . . . . .

    There are a few other announcements due shortly: …

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-32932205

    The Great Barrier Reef should not go on a World Heritage danger list, according to a United Nations draft report.

    However, it says Australia must carry out commitments to protect the reef, including restoring water quality and restricting new port developments.

    The final decision on its status will be made at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Germany next month.

    Conservationists have warned that the outlook for the reef is “poor”.

    A report published in 2014 concluded that the condition “is expected to further deteriorate in the future”.

    Climate change, extreme weather, and pollution from industry were listed a key concerns.

    Action required

    However, in 2015 Australia submitted a plan to the UN heritage body, Unesco, outlining how it would address these threats.

    This included a proposed objective of reducing pollution by 80% before 2025, as well as reversing a decision to allow dredged material to be dumped near the reef.

    The Unesco draft report says that Australia must implement this 35-year action plan, and it would continue to check on its progress.

    The matter – along with the future of other World Heritage sites – will be debated at a Unesco meeting taking place in Bonn from the 28 June to 8 July.



    Report abuse

  • 36
    Pinball1970 says:

    “I said I reserve the right to make that decision for myself and my children.

    “It’s not the main thrust of my argument, but in the case of vaccinations, those who are vaccinated aren’t really at risk… This issue is about weighing up whether I should be allowed to make decisions that a majority other people think are bad for my children.”

    It is not about your children. It is not about the individual, vaccinations are about the protection of populations from disease.

    A few conscientious objectors or parents who think they know more about science than the Drs and researchers because they read an article in the Guardian, put the whole programme and population at risk.

    Ihave not read all posts but I am sure Andrew Wakefield MMR scare would have been mentioned

    Good on Abbot, either accept the vaccination or payments are stopped.

    He should go one further, either accept the vaccination or get fined every month until you turn up at the clinic to benefit the rewards science has very kindly provided for you free.



    Report abuse

  • 37
    Pinball1970 says:

    Or Sun, Daily Mail, vanity Fair, Lancet…

    Not picking on any one publication in particular, it was the reader not the material I was noting.



    Report abuse

  • 38
    Davidalan says:

    Many in Australia see this as proof of the monkeys at keyboards producing Shakespeare. Finally Tony Abbott enacted a policy that is a good idea base on sound science. Unfortunately i suspect it wasn’t the science that convinced him but the idea of saving money and the bump in the polls it would achieve.

    I do however concede the argument that this policy unfairly targets low an middle income earners. More needs to be done to educate people about the risk posed by not vaccinating as opposed to the tiny risk that comes with vaccinating.



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.