Why are we taking legal action?
During 2015, the federal parliament amended family assistance legislation by abolishing conscientious objection vaccine exemptions for eligibility for Child Care Subsidy and also reduced Family Tax Benefit by approximately $29 per fortnight. This was dubbed the No Jab No Pay  law and took effect on 1 January 2016.
Importantly, the No Jab, No Pay law didn’t change an entitlement to medical contraindication exemptions for children when the risk of vaccination outweighs its benefits. Despite this, the federal government decided to radically limit the reasons for a medical exemption to only:
- Have had anaphylaxis to a previous vaccination; or
- Are significantly immunocompromised. However, even those who are severely immunocompromised (such as children receiving cancer treatment) must still receive 8 out of 12 of the vaccines mandated for children. [2, 3]
Why are medical exemptions important?
To our knowledge, Australia is the only country in the world that mandates vaccines while simultaneously restricting medical exemptions to make it practically impossible to get one. When the Government brought in No Jab No Pay (restricting Centrelink benefits) and No Jab No Play (state laws preventing unvaccinated children attending kindy/preschool) laws, the media and politicians repeatedly reassured the public that those who needed a medical exemption would be able to get one, and would not be required to vaccinate their children when it was not safe to do so. In reality, the federal government has effectively abolished medical exemptions except in the limited circumstances listed above. In 2018, Professor Julie Leask highlighted how some parents may even have to take such extreme measures such as sedation or general anesthesia to be able to meet the government vaccination requirements.
Future Covid-19 vaccine exemptions
The federal Department of Health has also already added the Covid-19 vaccination to the formal medical exemption form. This is very scary, because even though they haven’t mandated the Covid-19 vaccination YET, if the current criteria of the medical exemption form mean that NO ONE will be eligible for a medical exemption. Not even previous anaphylaxis to other vaccines will be an accepted criteria, because the Covid-19 vaccine is made from completely different ingredients to any other vaccine.
Why are we fundraising?
A team of individuals believe strongly that the government does not have the legal right to reject a doctor’s medical exemption. So, in 2017 a parent challenged a Centrelink decision to reject a doctor’s medical exemption by going to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). She was successful in defeating Centrelink and receiving her payments. However the decision was not binding for future medical exemptions, and that meant that the government continued to reject doctors’ medical exemptions.
Therefore, we now wish to take this challenge to the Federal court. Another parent is challenging the decision of Centrelink to reject a doctor’s medical exemption. She first obtained a medical exemption in December 2018 and has been fighting this since. It has been a long tedious process of going through a Centrelink internal review then on to the AAT, and now this parent finally has legal standing in the Federal Court, but this challenge isn’t going to come cheaply.
How does this help everyone?
Our hope is that if we win, this will give medical practitioners the ability to be able to use their own clinical judgement and write vaccine medical exemptions for ANY reason within the medical practitioner’s clinical judgement. Centrelink should not be able to reject a doctor’s certification.
How will the money be spent?
We have already received an initial barrister’s advice, who has advised us that we have a winnable case. The initial estimate to run this case is $36,000.
Update: As of 05/08/2021, we have increased the goal by $4,000 to $40,000, to cover the cost of a medical report requested by the lawyer, as well as credit/debit card and PayPal fees.
Further Update: As of 01/09/21 the lawyers have revised their estimate upwards to $55,000, which does not include the amount of an adverse costs order in the event of losing.
The initial fundraising goal has been set to cover these fees, however the costs could go much higher, and the parent with legal standing is facing significant risks of the following potential future costs:
- If we lose, we may have an adverse costs order to pay the Government’s legal fees
- If we win, the Government may choose to appeal, creating further significant legal costs
Any money not used for this case will be donated for related causes such as:
- Website costs
- Donated to the AVN, Vaccine Information Service, VISA, IMOP, or HAP
- Donated to Lindsey Day’s fundraising campaign
- For conducting Freedom of Information (FOI) requests
- Donated at our discretion towards any other legal case that has good legal representation and strong prospects for success
Frequently asked questions
1.Department of Health: New Immunisation Requirements for Family Assistance Payments, https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/no-jab-no-pay-new-requirements-fact-sheet.pdf
2.Services Australia: Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) – immunisation medical exemption form (IM011), https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/organisations/health-professionals/forms/im011
3.Department of Health: Immunisation medical exemptions, https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/topics/immunisation-medical-exemptions/40531
4.YouTube: Excerpt from 2018 National Immunisation Conference, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG9rOtLSp4w