March 12th 2016


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Several items missing from list of the big spend

CANBERRA OBSERVED Greens back Coalition in Senate voting reform

ENERGY Nuclear reprocessing feasible here: SA inquiry

HISTORY OF TAIWAN Fifty-year journey from poverty to prosperity

SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT Warning: wolves in anti-bullying clothing

EDITORIAL Turnbull ignores three elephants in the room

DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE Family portrait or ideological caricature?

OPINION Goebbels revisited: the attack on Cardinal Pell

FAMILY AND SOCIETY SSCA apologists try to shrug off media furore

EUTHANASIA Legitimate denial of choice at end of life (Part II of two)

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Welcome backdown on vaccinations

ENVIRONMENT Food bowl emptied due to conservationist myopia

MUSIC Much-loved concertos clouded with melancholy

CINEMA Spotlight in the darkness: Spotlight

BOOK REVIEW Governing Middle-earth

BOOK REVIEW A land of contrasts

LETTERS

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS
Welcome backdown on vaccinations


by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, March 12, 2016

Just weeks after an article was published in News Weekly – and after months of campaigning by concerned Australians – the Victorian and federal governments have agreed to make vaccinations available to refugee children in Australia holding temporary protection visas.

The sudden backdown was advised by the Victorian Department of Health to the Victorian Women’s Friendship Group, which has led the campaign for free vaccinations. President of the group, Helen Jurcevic, emailed the good news to people who had campaigned on the issue.

She said: “After months of letter, emails, telephone calls to the politicians, the press and a publication by Peter Westmore in News Weekly, social justice has prevailed with our politicians, [and] all children in Australia under the age of 10 years of age will receive their vaccinations free of charge.

“Previously people on temporary visas 485 and 573 visa status had to pay $300 per vaccination plus a doctor’s consultation. As disease does not know of Medicare, all children can now be protected … wonderful outcome, common sense prevailed.”

Temporary protection visas (TPVs) are given to people whose refugee status has been determined by the appropriate authorities, and they live and work in the community, paying taxes like everyone else. It was a cruel anomaly that they were not given access to free vaccinations, which are available to all other Australians. The policy threatened the integrity of the national vaccination program, which relies on near-universal coverage for its effectiveness.

The urgency of national coverage was recently highlighted by an outbreak of measles, a highly contagious viral disease, in some parts of Melbourne. The outbreak has been put down to low vaccination rates. Several very serious – sometimes life-threatening – diseases in children are controlled effectively through vaccination.

The number of holders of temporary protection visas in Australia is relatively small. When the present federal government was elected in 2013, the number – including adults and children – was estimated to be 30,000.

The government backdown, though welcome, applies only to children under 10. As TPV holders are also required to have private health insurance, and are therefore contributing to the health budget through both taxes and health insurance, the government should in fact be offering free vaccination to all TPV holders, not just children under 10.

This would greatly assist people living in the Australian community whose refugee status has been confirmed, and who are often poor, and thus do not have money available for necessary vaccinations against diseases, including measles, rubella and HPV.




























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