Health | February 21, 2018

Health And Child Wellbeing Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 Council’s Amendment

Victorian Parliament - 21 February 2018 - Ms KEALY — The Liberals and Nationals will support the amendments put by the Greens and passed in the upper house. Any way that we can possibly improve the reporting requirements is obviously something we need to do when it comes to important health measures such as introducing vaccination rulings and requirements. Also, to improve overall vaccination rates, it is essential that we do make sure we do achieve herd immunity, and that we continue vaccinating in the community, so that we do not see incidents of measles and other debilitating diseases — sometimes fatal diseases — being prevalent in our community and putting some of our most vulnerable community members at risk, whether it be babies who are unable to be vaccinated due to their age, whether it be people who are immunocompromised or whether it be some of the elderly people in our community that we need to look after as much as we can.

During the debate in both the lower house and the upper house the Liberals and Nationals, my colleagues, did put forward concerns about the quality of the data that was outlined within the provisions of the bill. Further to that, my colleague in the upper house the shadow Minister for Health, Ms Wooldridge, put forward an amendment that would have removed the exemption for concession card holders in terms of the requirement to have a vaccination performed before they were able to go into a childcare facility as part of the no jab, no play laws. It is very disappointing that Labor and the Greens voted against this amendment, particularly in light of other discussions and comments that would indicate there is a will to improve vaccination rates across the state of Victoria.

We need to make sure that children who have parents or caregivers who are concession card holders, whether they have a healthcare card, whether they have any type of pension card or a youth allowance — perhaps they are studying full‑time — also have the opportunity to be vaccinated to ensure that they have the same opportunities and protections that children whose parents are not concession card holders have. In light of that, I do urge the government to reconsider the amendment put by Ms Wooldridge. I urge the government to perhaps consider this as a future amendment to strengthen and tighten requirements in Victoria around vaccination rates and to continue the push forward so that we improve our herd immunity into the future for every Victorian, not just a select group. We have got exemptions that are far too wide at this point in time.

I note that the Minister for Health made very generous comments, which I absolutely reiterate, around the great work of the maternal and child health workers in our communities, supported by GPs, nurses, other health professionals and people who are linked to childcare facilities. They do an absolutely fabulous job ensuring that their immunisation rates are high. They deal with children and parents who are very fearful of needles and vaccinations in a positive way, and that usually means there are very few tears in those maternal and child health rooms. We have, of course, better vaccination rates and better defence against these types of killer diseases in our communities.

I know our regions are particularly good at immunisations. We have 100 per cent vaccination rates in some of our electorates, which is a credit to each and every maternal and child health nurse. I thank them for their amazing support to improve the health outcomes of our children and our local community.

Motion agreed to.


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