Vaccine refusers to still claim benefits

Vaccine refusers to still claim benefits

Lanai Scarr
The Daily Telegraph
May 07, 2013 12:00AM

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Jo O’Brien

Jo OBrien, and Nichola Mclean of Platinum Pre School back the campaign / Pic: John Appleyard Source: The Daily Telegraph

A LOOPHOLE that allows parents who call themselves “vaccine refusers” to receive family benefits will not be closed amid fears the move could be a breach of anti-discrimination laws.

But the federal government’s refusal to act on the issue, such as stopping the 50 per cent childcare rebate for parents of children who are not immunised, has surprised human rights experts, who say any change to current legislation would not open the door to legal action.

Despite this, childcare centres have been told to be wary of discrimination breaches if they refuse kids who are not fully vaccinated.

SIGN OUR PETITION – NO JAB, NO PLAY

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek’s office said the government would not seek to close the loophole in tax arrangements that allowed “vaccine refusers” to bypass a rule that only allows parents of fully vaccinated children to claim benefits.

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Currently 1.5 per cent of children under seven are not vaccinated because their parents have identified as “vaccine refusers”.

A spokesman for the minister said any such changes could open the government up to anti-discrimination claims.

“Under current legalisation parents/guardians who refuse immunisation on the basis of personal, philosophical, religious or medical belief are still eligible for family payments,” the spokesman said.

“Any consideration of change to the legislation would need to take into account existing anti-discrimination legislation.”

But the Australian Human Rights Commission yesterday said there was “no ground” for discrimination. The NSW anti-discrimination board said it could not see how a change to benefits or excluding non-vaccinated kids from childcare would trigger discrimination law.

Childcare centre owners Jo O’Brien, 39, and Nichola McLean, 40, said they were told by the Childcare NSW service yesterday that they could face complaints under anti-discrimination law if they implemented a no jab, no play policy. They said that when they saw the campaign in The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph they wanted to take action.

SIGN OUR PETITION – NO JAB, NO PLAY

“We were told we needed to check and be very wary because we could be done for discrimination,” said Ms McLean whose daughter Holly, 4, is vaccinated.

Ms McLean and Ms O’Brien co-founded the Platinum Preschools in Sydney’s Randwick and Prestons. They said parents who did not vaccinate were “selfish”.

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