With less than two weeks to go until the hearing, we are taking this opportunity to provide our wonderful donors with an outline of the case.
Background to the appeal
Towards the end of 2018 (Yes, three years ago), the appellant’s doctor advised against vaccinating her then 2.5 year old daughter and wrote a medical exemption to that effect. As the government’s form, Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) – immunisation medical exemption form (IM011) did not provide the scope for the doctor to provide her reasons for the exemption, she wrote an accompanying letter to go with the form. This medical exemption was subsequently rejected by Centrelink.
The appellant sought a review of the decision from the Centrelink Authorised Review Officer (ARO), who upheld the original decision. This was followed by two further reviews in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) (AAT level 1 and AAT level 2 reviews) both of which also upheld the original decision.
By the time of the AAT level 2 review, the department had abandoned its earlier requirements for 1) the doctor to have completed Form IM011, and 2) the exemption to be recorded by the Australian Immunisation Register. However, despite these concessions, AAT level 2 found that the substance of the doctor’s letter did not meet the “specifications of the Australian Immunisation Handbook” pursuant to section 6 (3) (a) of the Family Assistance Act.
It was at this point that this fundraiser was commenced with a view to further appealing in the Federal Court.
Federal Court Appeal
The appeal in the Federal Court will centre on the following:
- The meaning of section 6 (3) (a) of the Family Assistance Act, in particular the meaning of ‘medically contraindicated’ and ‘specifications set out in the Australian Immunisation Handbook’.
- The scope of medical contraindications in the Australian Immunisation Handbook, in particular, whether the doctor is limited to certifying exemptions for only three contraindications (anaphylaxis, immunocompromise and pregnancy).
- Whether the department is permitted to override a doctor’s clinical judgement.
We will provide further details once the Federal Court has handed down its decision, which is likely to be in the new year.
Further funds needed
We’d like to give a very humble thanks to everyone who has donated to make this happen. The applicant in this case took a huge risk, urgently filing in the Federal Court prior to the money being raised, but this was necessary as the Federal Court only allows 21 days to file an appeal from the AAT.
Thankfully we have been able to raise a substantial amount of money to cover the case so far, although it is not over yet. So far the legal fees have nearly reached $80,000 and we foreshadow that at least another $10,000 in legal fees will be required, plus an additional $30,000 – $50,000 to cover the applicant’s costs order if the case loses (we hope this doesn’t happen but there are never any guarantees in legal proceedings).
Further donations, big or small, will be gratefully received. Please click or tap on the progress bar below to donate.
We have previously published Details of the Medical Exemption Challenge and how any surplus funds will be used (which there will be if the case wins). We’d like to reassure donors that money will be donated to the following causes:
- Website costs (minimal)
- 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
For any further questions on the legal case or how your money will be used, please contact us for further information.