Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 March 2017) . . Page.. 902 ..
the form of the proposed policy, are designed specifically to help remind and encourage these parents.
We can see the need for these kinds of reminders and this kind of encouragement in the Australian childhood immunisation register statistics for the ACT for 2014-15. In that year more than 90 per cent of one-year-olds had been fully immunised, except those in south Canberra, where the proportion was between 85 and 90 per cent. Statistics were even better for those who had already been asked to provide immunisation records to their schools upon enrolment, with more than 90 per cent of all five-year-old children across the entire territory being fully immunised. But for the cohort in the middle, children aged 24 months, vaccination rates were under 85 per cent in south Canberra and under 90 per cent in both north Canberra and the Woden Valley. These are precisely the children who are most likely to be enrolled in the territory’s childcare centres.
As indicated in the recent Australian child health poll by the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, this issue is a concern for many parents, 70 per cent of whom reported that knowing the percentage of under-vaccinated children in a school or childcare centre would influence their decision to send their child to that facility.
I am personally grateful that the Minister for Health in yesterday’s question time stated the ACT government “does support the no jab no play approach”. I also understand that the details of such uniform laws would need to be hammered out by the relevant health ministers from all states and territories and then taken back to their individual parliaments. In the meantime let us make our position clear by supporting this motion and sending a firm, unmistakable message publically expressing the government’s unqualified support for childhood vaccination as an essential public health measure.
MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (3.59): I thank Mrs Kikkert for the motion today. Certainly as Minister for Health I welcome the opportunity to speak on the important issue of immunisation in our community.
As I have said in this place before, Canberra is one of the healthiest communities in the country in one of the healthiest countries in the world, leading the nation in many key health indicators, including our immunisation rates. To build on our healthy environment the ACT has a strong record in taking a proactive approach to health promotion, health protection and disease prevention activities. This includes immunisation.
Immunisation is one of the most important and cost-effective public health measures protecting people in our community against vaccine preventable diseases. Immunisation is extremely important and has repeatedly been demonstrated to be one of the most effective interventions for protecting children and adults from the devastating effects of vaccine preventable disease. We know that, when coverage rates are high enough, immunisation protects not just the individual but also the wider community by stopping vaccine preventable diseases getting a foothold.