The Australian Newspaper

UP to 60,000 families will be forced to immunise their children or lose
their child care benefits, the Federal Government said today.

Federal Minister Dr Michael Wooldridge is to send letters to parents across
Australia warning them they risk losing their entitlements.
Federal health officers have checked records held at Centrelink and
identified parents who have either not immunised their children or failed to
update medical information on their immunisation status.

"They must take urgent action when they get that letter to show proof of
their status, or get their children immunised - or subsidies will be
cancelled," a spokeswoman for Dr Wooldridge said today.

Children who cannot be immunised for medical reasons are exempt, as well as
children whose parents disagree with the controversial methods of disease

Any parent who objects to immunising their children must put in writing or
call a hotline to explain why they are conscientious objectors.

"Health department research consistently shows the vast majority of families
that are subsidised by the Government are in favour of immunisation," the
spokeswoman said.

"We don't expect many objectors. Immunisation is the best protection against
diseases such as measles, whooping cough and meningitis," the spokeswoman

"It not only protects the children of the the recipients of subsidies, it is
also protecting the children they associate with at child care."

Dr Wooldridge said such a threat was aimed at lifting the rates of
immunisation among Australian children.

"(Health insurance figures) show that at present the immunisation compliance
rate for children eligible for child care assistance is below the
Australia-wide rate for two-year- olds," he said today.

"It may be that some of these children have been appropriately immunised but
the Australia Child Immunisation Record does not have that information."

"Parents must take the letter seriously and take measures to ensure they can
provide a written record of immunisation for each child from their doctor or
clinic," he said.

The Federal Government provides financial assistance through Centrelink for
families using different child care services such as long time care, day
care and occasional care.

There are also child care rebates available through Medicare for families
who experience difficulty in supporting their children because of problems
such as caring for disabled children or if the parents are also carers of
other family members.