Daily News - 13 April 2015

Posted 13 April 2015 1:53pm



Abbott government to announce anti-vaccination parents will lose benefits

Mark Kenny and Julia Medew - The SMH

Parents who do not vaccinate their children will lose welfare payments of up to $2100 per child under a federal government policy set to be announced before the May budget.

Under changes that could save more than $50 million a year, Social Services Minister Scott Morrison is preparing to scrap a "conscientious objection" provision which allows anti-vaccination parents to still claim welfare benefits including childcare assistance and Family Tax Benefit A.

Fairfax Media understands the Family Tax Benefit A is worth up to $2100 per child.

Parents of about 39,000 children have signed "conscientious objection" forms that certify they have a "personal, philosophical, religious or medical" objection to immunisation. This form, which requires a consultation with a doctor or immunisation nurse, is necessary for the parents to receive Family Tax Benfit A. But access is means tested so not every one of those parents would be receiving the payment.

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Welfare lobby must shape reform debate on its terms and in its language

Mark Triffitt - The Age

It hasn't been a good year for Australia's welfare lobby. Or even a good decade. A strong welfare lobby voice is critical for a fair and sustainable society. Yet last year's federal budget brought into focus its lack of clout in shaping policies that have far-reaching impacts on the growing ranks of Australia's poor. The budget outlined a range of sweeping welfare and other social services cuts. But the tone and substance of these changes was largely dominated by the policy agendas of big business.

Many of these proposals were not defeated, or even persuasively argued against by the welfare sector. Instead, it took one of Australia's rich elites, Clive Palmer, to corral political support for the equity case against it. Major social policy issues over the past decade have effectively become the policy domain of Australia's wealthy. The result is that the welfare sector has been largely relegated to bystanders.

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Childcare spending tied to bottom-line constraints

David Crow - The Australian

New spending on childcare will be rationed in the federal budget next month to ensure it does not weaken the bottom line as the ­Abbott government puts a ­priority on its core promise to repair the nation’s finances.

In a key constraint on the new policy, cabinet ministers are ­insisting the families package cannot exceed outlays already factored into the budget, including about $3.3 billion once set aside for a generous paid parental leave scheme.

The Australian has been told spending measures are being calibrated to ensure they do not detract from the bottom line, ruling out a mammoth new program ­despite calls to pour more cash into childcare subsidies to lift workforce participation.

The small business and jobs package will also be designed to avoid putting any greater weight on the budget deficit, with its key feature of a tax cut for small companies already incorporated into the budget’s revenue forecasts.

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Focus on communication barriers during Youth Week

Trinette Stevens - The Morning Bulletin 

Ade Horan has the referee's whistle out and ready as Rockhampton's youth celebrate National Youth Week.

Mr Horan, of Rockhampton headspace, is the referee for Tuesday's Touch Footy Fun Day at the Rocky touch fields, but his involvement isn't all fun and games.

The youth reference group member said headspace's involvement was imperative to breaking down communication barriers with Rockhampton's younger generation, who deal with mental health issues at a higher percentage than normal.

"Youth Week engages all aspects of our community... with headspace we deal with a lot of young people who are struggling, with maybe a serious mental illness, maybe it's bullying at school, maybe it's struggling with exams. To have headspace's brand image out here with Youth Week hopefully it will engage a lot of people who do need help."

Events kick off with the Launch Party in the Park at 2pm today at Huish Dve, where young people aged 12 to 25 are invited to participate in bubble soccer, skate park demo and free access to the pool.

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