ABC Radio Adelaide – anti-vaccination campaign, immunisation in child care centres

Friday, 23 March 2018

Radio interview, ABC Radio Adelaide, Mornings

SUBJECTS: Anti-vaccination scare campaign in SA, immunisation in child care centres

DAVID BEVAN: Amanda Rishworth, good morning.


BEVAN: What do you make of this story that Tory Shepherd and Brad Crouch have written? I reckon they are onto something here.

RISHWORTH: Look, it is always concerning when you hear the misinformation that gets put around about vaccinations and I have to say we see it- I see it- on Facebook a lot but it is very concerning that people are discussing where you can go to child care without having vaccinations. I think it is most concerning to the other parents that might be at these child care centres that unknowingly don’t realise that there may or may not be stricter guidelines- strict discussions- by the centre when it comes to vaccinations for children. I have to say in talking with centres in which I do visit a lot, a lot of them do take this seriously and certainly a lot had welcomed the State Labor Government’s previous proposal around No Jab, No Play because that gave them a bit of cover to actually say, you don’t have your vaccinations up to date therefore we are not able to offer you care. I do think parents at centres do want to have the confidence that children can go to a safe environment, both those that have been vaccinated but importantly those that may not have been vaccinated because of medical conditions that just can’t have vaccinations think this is very concerning.

BEVAN: There is a bit of confusion at the moment because we’re going from one government to another here in South Australia and State Labor’s policy as I remember it was No Jab, No Play; so if you couldn’t show that your child had been vaccinated they wouldn’t be accepted into the child care centre, is that right?

RISHWORTH: Yeah, that is correct. There were exemptions of course for those who medically couldn’t be vaccinated but on whole if there was no medical reason than that was being encouraged. I would certainly urge the new Liberal Government to take this up as soon as possible. In Canberra- I give credit where credit is due- the No Jab, No Pay policy came in by the Liberal Government but I do think around these policies we need to make sure we are supporting child care centres to deliver this information as they are absolutely on the frontline, they are the ones- if parents disagree with the policy they are the ones- that have to work with parents. One of the things that Labor has been calling on both with the No Jab, No Pay and with No Jab, No Play is to actually properly resource centres and a campaign around making sure parents understand because while we know there are parents that absolutely hold very firm beliefs that are scientifically unproven there is also a lot of parents that are just really confused with all this information out there and certainly by working with those parents we can work with them to ensure they do take up this important protection for their children.

BEVAN: Okay. We put in calls to the Liberal Party here in South Australia and because they are in this transition period at the moment you can imagine what the work load would be like and they are still working on a shoestring in terms of staff because they haven’t got press secretaries and things like that, so it is difficult to get information and there are only so many hours in the day and we understand that. We are still waiting to hear back what will be of this established policy they will pursue because as Amanda Rishworth says under Labor it was No Jab, No Play– you couldn’t get an entry into a child care centre if you couldn’t show the vaccination card. What will it be now that we have a Marshall Liberal Government- we are waiting to hear back. You referred to though the Federal Liberal policy of No Jab, No Pay, now what is the pay refer to?

RISHWORTH: That is basically rebates for child care. Most families at the moment would get a rebate through the child care rebate when they go to child care and other Centrelink payments as well but particularly it is the child care rebate that you are not able to receive the rebate for unless you can prove you have been immunised. That has seen a list in immunisation rates and I- and Labor- has certainly supported that which I think is one of those rare examples of bipartisanship-

BEVAN: Yes, it is nice when you all get along.

RISHWORTH: It is because I think there is- what is really important with this issue is there is absolutely so much evidence that is undeniable when it comes to vaccinations. As I said, we were encouraging the federal government to put more resources into an education campaign. If you get on the internet you can find so many purported truths around vaccinations which just don’t stack up and I think it is very confusing for parents out there, I get them in my newsfeed of Facebook; all these stories, all these sort of alleged links to autism which time and time and time and time and time again have shown just not to be true. It is confusing for parents and we have certainly been calling for real resources to go into ensuring there is a proper education campaign and I do think child care centres do need to be supported in that and I have been talking to a number who have said they can usually get the majority over the line- I mean the majority of families to understand how important vaccinations are but that does take time and I think they need to be supported as well.

BEVAN: Helen has sent us a text asking; why don’t we have dedicated non-vaccinated child care centres?

RISHWORTH: The issue is it is not just a problem in child care. Having a child that is unvaccinated that is otherwise a perfect candidate for vaccination can put at risk whole communities, it can put at risk small children that are too young to be vaccinated- measles, mumps, whooping cough, there is also issues with those very vulnerable children and adults that have a compromising immune system, I mean this is about playing our part in the community, it is about- I mean, unfortunately measles don’t stop at the child care gate or the school gate-

BEVAN: And you need a certain percentage of the population to be vaccinated in order for it to work properly and we are below that here in South Australia aren’t we.

RISHWORTH: There are places where we are below and certain suburbs where we are below. Ultimately for things like whooping cough, people are talking around 95 per cent to get that, what is called herd immunity.

BEVAN: So indulging people and saying well I just don’t buy this, I want my child to be not vaccinated and that child could be that there is no health reason why not, then saying we’ll let you have your own non-vaccinated child care centres that would put the rest of the community at risk because it would push us down in terms of the herd immunity.

RISHWORTH: That is right because children don’t just stay in the walls of child care centres, it is across the board. These are ways that government can work in institutions we fund, like child care centres and providing subsidies and that is where – I guess-  we have our lever in terms of encouraging people but there is a problem for the whole community if we fall below that herd immunity and I just think we have got to take responsibility but also listen to those voices of parents who were perhaps convinced by some of this information and then their child did get sick. I think we underestimate how dangerous some of these diseases are, when we talk about measles, mumps, whooping cough; these can be deadly and I think we have gotten a bit used to not seeing the effects of these diseases so much now but they are deadly.

BEVAN: Kate asks; do we know the suburbs where the vaccination is below what it should be the percentage?

RISHWORTH: Look, I haven’t seen those rates lately, I know there was some reports around some of the suburbs around Adelaide and parts of the CBD but I haven’t seen the rates lately but there are certainly suburbs and you see that also in other states and territories; there are suburbs in Melbourne as well where those rates fall quite low.

BEVAN: Amanda Rishworth, thank you for your time.

RISHWORTH: Thank you.


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