Copyright © 2015
Some families are separated and conflict is inevitable. In the last couple of weeks I have had three conversations with very distressed mothers whose children face catch up vaccine schedules, (including through family court orders.) It is circumstance that all enquiries were from women, obviously men and fathers are affected too, but not as frequently in my experience.
One father has just said that their child will be vaccinated (via email because he doesn't consider the mother worthy of a phone or direct conversation; emails can be sent at midnight.. ) The child is healthy and has had no vaccines to date without any quarrel between the parents but the NJNP legislation has prompted this situation because of the end of year Family Tax Benefit A supplement. The decision to not vaccinate was made and agreed to by both parents up to this point, the supplement will be completely phased out in the next 18 months anyway.
Considering the consent of only one parent is required for vaccines to be administered and the child spends 50% of their time with each parent, this can happen without the mother’s knowledge or consent. Also considering in this instance the father is continually verbally and emotionally abusive to the mother, adding in an inflammatory and sanctioned issue such as vaccination makes for a very worrying time. His abusive dialogue on this issue is sanctioned by politicians and the media.
Another father has decided that the subsidy for vacation care for his 2 boys is more important than the previous joint decision to not vaccinate and wants catch up schedules in place for a 6 year old and a 10 year old. This is despite the mother offering to negotiate different care arrangements over school holidays so that he can still have his allocated quota of parenting time and the boys will not need to attend care with its $ cost. This person will not have a verbal conversation with the mother in this shared parenting arrangement and will also only communicate via email. That is an awful lot of vaccines to catch up on for a relatively short term situation and it will include Gardasil HPV vaccine given at 10 - 14 years of age.
Finally to the Family Court and its orders to vaccinate a healthy child, prompted by the notion of overseas travel to somewhere with no mandatory vaccination requirements and the very public NJNP legislation with all its dialogue.
Now this is not unusual. In the Family Court it is a "given" that even though a joint decision was made while the parents were together to not vaccinate, one can change their mind and gain quite a bit of weight in the court, pitting the decision against the other parent to show negligent parenting and assist their case for joint custody and/or access arrangements. It diverts the courts focus from the day to day needs of the child and documented family violence issues.
The pressures are many and have increased immeasurably for separated families. A compounding factor is that parents with sole responsibility can often be without any additional funds from child support, making finances very tight.
Family Court orders will dictate that the child be transferred between parents and households week by week, half of holidays, mother’s day, father’s day, Christmas, Easter, birthdays. Intricate orders that last for years with no mention of any consideration for the changing needs of any child. The fact that two of the three mothers have to communicate only by email because the father won't talk to them in person should be a red flag that things are not ideal. There's a child being shifted between households!
So, if you have made a joint decision to not vaccinate please ensure that this is recorded in a written, signed, dated and even witnessed document. Also if you find yourself in a similar position to those above:
In the end, for some separated families this is just not about vaccines. It is about maintaining control despite separation and has nothing to do with the health of the child or children. Often there are compounding domestic violence issues that do not necessarily involve physical violence but manipulation, stress and emotional trauma.
Be kind to yourselves and get help and advice.
Child Health Australia has been created to collect and collate contacts for mutual support, to build local networks and to monitor and share the effects of the No Jab No Pay legislation.