In an attempt to check the so-called ‘anti-vaccination drive’ in Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced a new government policy under which parents denying vaccination for their children can end up losing up to USD 11,000 of welfare benefits.
Currently, the Australian parents are allowed to opt out of child vaccinations on the ground of medical or religious issues. The parents can also object by saying they are “conscientious objectors”. Despite such moves, the parents enjoyed taxpayer funded child care benefits.
The new “no jab, no pay” policy will remove the provision of the exemption as a conscientious objector, starting January 2016. Under the new law, thousands of families are expected to lose out on welfare payments.
“The choice made by families not to immunize their children is not supported by public policy or medical research nor should such action be supported by taxpayers in the form of child care payments,” Abbott and Social Services Minister Scott Morrison said in a joint statement.
As per the government estimates, over 39,000 children under the age of seven across Australia have not been vaccinated due to the objection raised by their parents.
The government estimates further showed that the number of unvaccinated children in the country has nearly doubled in the past decade.
The existing exemptions on religious or medical reasons will continue. However, the guidelines for exemptions on religious grounds will be tightened.
The so-called campaigns against child vaccination have recently gained momentum in Western countries. There are various personal or religious beliefs of the parents to stops them from opting immunization for their kids against serious diseases. Some parents also oppose child vaccination due to the finding of a now-discredited study that shots cause autism.