On 17 September 2015, the Senate referred the Social Services
Legislation Amendment (No Jab, No Pay) Bill 2015 to the Senate Community
Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 9 November 2015.
Conduct of the inquiry
Details of the inquiry, including a link to the Bill and associated
documents, were placed on the committee's website. The committee also wrote to 31
organisations and individuals, inviting submissions by 16 October 2015.
The committee received over 2000 pieces of correspondence related to the
inquiry, which included submissions, form letters and short general statements.
The majority of the correspondence received was from individuals who oppose the
On 28 October 2015 the committee determined to publish the following
statement on the inquiry page:
The committee has received a large volume of submissions in
relation to this inquiry and wishes to assure submitters that each piece of
correspondence to the inquiry is being read and considered. The committee has
decided to publish all submissions from organisations and a representative
sample of the submissions received from individuals. Owing to the sensitive and
personal nature of many submissions, the committee has decided that the
representative sample will be drawn from those for which it has received clear
advice from the submitter supporting publication. The committee has decided not
to publish submissions comprising short or general statements, form/campaign
letters and petitions, but has noted the concerns raised in them.
The committee published 550 submissions, including 25 submissions
received from organisations. The committee also published two samples of form
letters. The committee considered and noted all other unpublished correspondence.
The committee held a public hearing in Brisbane on 2 November 2015.
The A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 (Family
Assistance Act) requires that children are up to date with the National
Immunisation Program Schedule in order for parents or guardians to be eligible
for Family Tax Benefit Part A (FTB-A) supplement, Child Care Benefit (CCB) and
Child Care Rebate (CCR).
Legislation has linked social security payments to immunisation requirements
since 1998 for child care payments and 2012 for FTB-A supplement.
The Family Assistance Act provides that a child may meet the immunisation
requirements despite not being immunised if they meet certain exemption
categories, including where an individual or adult has a conscientious
objection. Under the Act, an individual is considered to have a conscientious
objection to a child being immunised if:
... the individual's objection is based on a personal,
philosophical, religious or medical belief involving a conviction that
vaccination under the latest edition of the standard vaccination schedule
should not take place. 
In the 2015-16 Budget, the Government announced it would seek to
introduce 'No Jab, No Pay' rules that would remove immunisation exemption
categories for access to CCB, CCR and FTB-A supplement. As part of this
measure, the Government announced it would provide a $26 million boost to the
Immunise Australia program 'to encourage doctors and immunisation providers to
identify and vaccinate children in their practice who are overdue'.
Purpose and key provisions of the Bill
This Bill seeks to amend the Family Assistance Act to tighten the
immunisation requirements for children to be eligible for the CCR, CCB and
FTB-A supplement payments. These changes would commence on 1 January 2016.
Removal of exemption categories
The Bill proposes to remove the current exemption categories for meeting
the immunisation requirement on the basis of a conscientious objection and on
The Bill also proposes to remove the Minister's power to determine by
legislative instrument a class of persons to be exempt from or meet the
The Bill provides for new circumstances in which a person may meet the
immunisation requirements on the basis of a medical contraindication, natural
immunity or participation in a vaccine study.
Changes to eligibility monitoring
Currently eligibility for the FTB-A supplement is checked at ages one,
two and five and eligibility for child care payments is checked each year up to
age seven. This Bill proposes that eligibility for all payments is checked each
year until the child is 20.
Changes to the 63-day grace period
Currently when a notice is issued that a child has not met eligibility
for social security payments a 63-day grace period is given for that child to commence
vaccination including commencing a catch-up schedule.
Those who are currently registered, which includes those registered as
conscientious objectors, will continue to receive the 63-day grace period.
This Bill proposes to remove the grace period for new customers applying
for the first time for social security payments.
However, the Department of Human Services will advise the individual that if
they visit a General Practitioner and 'commence a catch-up schedule for the
child, the requirement to be immunised will be considered to be met'.
New immunisation requirement for
Special Child Care Benefit
The Bill proposes adds a requirement that children at risk of abuse and
neglect need to meet the vaccination schedule for the child care provider to
receive the Special Child Care Benefit.
This Bill complements two recently passed immunisation-related Bills:
the Australian Immunisation Register Bill 2015 and Australian Immunisation
Register (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2015. The Bills will:
expand the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) from
children under seven years of age to children under 20 years of age, commencing
1 January 2016; and
expand ACIR to become the Australian Immunisation Register to
create a whole of life vaccination register, commencing from late 2016.
The Government has also introduced legislation to the House of
Representatives seeking to gradually phase out the FTB-A supplement by 2018.
Some state governments have recently introduced legislation to tighten
immunisation requirements for child care centres – these measures are known as
'No Jab, No Play'. The Parliamentary Library's Bills Digest for the Bill
outlines the status of such legislation in three states:
New South Wales introduced immunisation requirements for
enrolment in childcare facilities from 1 January 2014. The legislation allows
for conscientious objectors to still be enrolled but unvaccinated children can
be excluded in the event of an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease.
The Queensland Government introduced legislation to
Parliament in July 2015 to allow the managers of childcare services the option
to refuse, cancel or place a condition on the enrolment or attendance of a
child who is not vaccinated or up to date with applicable immunisation
schedules. There are no exemptions for
The Victorian Parliament is currently considering legislation
which will require children to be fully immunised in order to attend childcare
and kindergarten (preschool) from 1 January 2016.
There will no exemptions for conscientious objectors, only for those
with medical reasons and for certain disadvantaged and vulnerable children, who
will be provided with 16 weeks to meet vaccination requirements.
Submitters raised concerns that the Bill is a response to a campaign by
the Daily Telegraph since 2013 petitioning state and federal governments to
take action to improve vaccination rates. The campaign sought to have state
governments give child care centres the power to exclude unvaccinated children
from their centres and for the federal government to withhold child care
rebates and family tax benefit to conscientious objectors.
Submitters to this inquiry have expressed concerns about state
legislation, particularly where conscientious objection has been removed as an
exemption category for the immunisation requirements.
The Explanatory Memorandum notes that the Bill is expected to produce
savings of $508.3 million over the forward estimates.
Consideration by other committees
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (PJCHR) found the Bill
engages and places limits on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and
religion as set out in article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights and sought advice from the Minister on whether the measures
The PJCHR had not published the Minister's response prior to the tabling of
The committee thanks those individuals and organisations that made
submissions and gave evidence at the public hearing.
Note on references
References to the committee Hansard are to the Proof Hansard.
Page numbers may vary between the proof and official Hansard transcript.
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