ACOSS strongly supports immunisation. We believe that the well-being and health of children is paramount and this means having a targeted health response that addresses the barriers to immunisation.
Well-known barriers to immunisation for lower-income and disadvantaged families will not be resolved by No Jab No Pay. Barriers include poor access to health care, language barriers for migrant families that make navigating a complex health system very difficult, and lack of transport options for some.
The government’s No Jab No Pay policy, by definition, targets families on lower incomes who receive Family Tax Benefit. The government’s latest data show that these families have higher immunisation rates compared with the rest of the population (95.1% versus under 94% for all families). See here for immunisation maps.
Higher-income families are unaffected by No Jab No Pay because they do not receive Family Tax Benefit.
In this debate, we lack access to comprehensive data about immunisation rates for all families. Before parliamentarians consider whether to support No Jab No Pay, these data should be made public so that the policy debate is grounded in the available evidence. The policy of No Jab No Pay should also be transparently reviewed with participation by health experts in order for parliamentarians to make fully informed decisions.
We need a universal policy to boost immunisation rates using an effective public health response. We need to work closely with primary health networks, GPs, and community controlled health providers to determine how best to boost immunisation. Policies that promote engagement between health professionals and families to remind and encourage immunisation are broadly supported.
We do not support a social security policy that places additional pressure and stress on lower income families, unfairly targeting a group who already have higher rates of immunisation without evidence of its effectiveness. Social security provides essential income support to lower income families struggling to make ends meet.