Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry is backing legislation to encourage even more parents to meet immunisation requirements for their children.
Under legislation being introduced today, parents’ fortnightly Family Tax Benefit Part A payments will be reduced by about $28 per fortnight for each child who does not meet the immunisation requirements.
From 1 July 2018, this will replace the current system under which end-of-year supplements are withheld for children whose immunisation is not up to date.
The Member for Capricornia sad “I was a member of Rotoract for 8 years and know how hard they fought to eradicate Polio.”
“I do not want to see my electorate return to a situation where parents have to worry about their children catching preventable diseases.
“I do not want to see children catching, or dying from, preventable diseases.
“As a community, we have a collective responsibility to protect ourselves and those around us. We are lucky to live in a country that offers universal healthcare and parents must take responsibility for their children’s vaccinations.”
Ms Landry said that reducing fortnightly payments, rather than withholding the supplement at the end of the year as occurs at present, will serve as an ongoing and immediate incentive for parents to get their children immunised and will help ensure that more children and the wider community will be protected from preventable diseases like whooping cough.
No Jab, No Pay has been an outstanding success, boosting immunisation rates since it was introduced at the beginning of 2016.
About 210,000 families have taken action to meet immunisation requirements since No Jab, No Pay commenced.
Since 1 January 2016, rates of fully immunised children have increased since the introduction of No Jab, No Pay in January 2016, to 93.79 per cent of children aged between 12-15 months; 90.86 per cent of children aged between 24-27 months; and 93.55 per cent of children aged five years. Indigenous immunisation rates amongst five year old have also increased over that time and are now at 95.7 per cent.
Encouraging as these rates are, immunisation coverage for all children falls short of the 95 per cent minimum herd immunity required to slow or stop the spread of disease.
Taken over a whole year, the $28 per fortnight is approximately the same value as the current end-of-year supplement ($737), so there is no change to the amount deducted.
By reducing fortnightly payments, rather than withholding the supplement at the end of the year, parents will have an immediate incentive to have their children immunised.
The more immediate the financial impact, the more likely children will be vaccinated within optimum timeframes to ensure the most effective coverage against disease.
This change also means that parents earning over $80,000 in adjustable taxable income have the same incentive to immunise their children. These families no longer qualify for the FTB Part A supplement, which is paid after the financial year, so now don’t experience any payment reduction if they haven’t immunised their children. The new measure will ensure that all FTB families, irrespective of income, are treated the same.
Catch-up vaccinations are also available for young people up to the age of 19 who would like to complete their childhood vaccinations, and for refugees and humanitarian entrants of any age.
The Government has also provided $5.5 million over three years for a childhood immunisation education campaign to encourage Australian parents and carers to get their children vaccinated.
More information about No Jab, No Pay immunisation requirements, is available on the Department of Human Services website.
Under the No Jab, No Pay policy, children must be fully immunised, have a valid exemption or be on a valid catch-up schedule if parents are to continue receiving child care payments, and with the new No Jab, No Pay measure, their full Family Tax Benefit Part A fortnightly payment.
As at 30 June 2017 there were approximately 2,816,000 children with a No Jab, No Pay immunisation requirement whose families have had their FTB payments reconciled for 2015-16. Of these:
the full FTB Part A supplement entitlement has been paid to families for approximately 2,679,000 children who met immunisation requirements (95.1%);
families responsible for approximately 137,000 children lost all or some of their supplement because they did not meet the full year immunisation requirements.