Childcare benefits and Family Tax Benefit supplements will no longer be paid to parents who fail to immunise their children after the Federal Government’s “No Jab No Pay” laws passed in the Senate this week.
The laws will remove the childcare benefit (CCB), childcare rebate (CCR) and the end-of-year supplements for Family Tax Benefit A from those who refuse to immunise their children.
The laws were passed through both houses of parliament with the backing of Labor, the Greens and crossbench senators. The legislation had passed the lower house in October and yesterday’s passing in the Senate means it can now be made law once given assent by the Governor-General.
The changes are scheduled to take into effect from 1 January 2016.
To meet the immunisation requirements for the Family Tax benefit Part A supplement, children will need to be immunised during the financial years that each child turns 1, 2 and 5 years old.
For child care payment eligibility, all children under seven years must meet the relevant vaccine schedule requirements for CCB and CCR to be claimed.
Previously, people who were conscientious objectors to immunisation were able to avoid losing their FTB A supplements and childcare benefits for failing to immunise their children on the grounds that they felt the potential harm caused by vaccination outweighed the benefits, or because of moral or philosophical beliefs.
Under the new laws, the only exemptions will be made for those who don’t immunise for valid medical reasons.
Families will be informed by the Department of Human Services if their children don’t meet the immunisation requirements for family assistance payments and will be encouraged to speak to their immunisation provider to update their records or to catch up on their kids’ jabs.
From 1 January 2016, free National Immunisation Program vaccines will be distributed for all children under the age of 10 that require catch up.
There will also be a limited catch up for young people aged 10 to 19 in families that currently receive family assistance payments who don’t have a valid medical exemption and want to immunise their children in order to continue receiving these payments. These free immunisations will be available from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2017.