People who claim religious reasons for not vaccinating their children 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 Sydney Morning Herald reports:
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.
This is an increase of more than 24,000 children over the past 10 years.
"The Government is extremely concerned at the risk this poses to other young children and the broader community," Mr Abbott said.
"The choice made by families not to immunise 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.”…
[P]eople with religious reasons [for not vaccinating their children] 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.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten backed the change.
"Labor supports promoting the safety of our children," Mr Shorten said on Sunday.
"We believe fundamentally in the science of vaccination."