A girl, 8, will be given vaccinations against the objections of her mother after a Family Court ruling.
News of the judgment comes after a group of Australia’s top scientists warned this week that the anti-immunisation lobby was endangering children’s lives.
The Victorian mother, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was resorting to homeopathic methods to try to protect her child against disease.
But the court heard that in 2010, the girl’s father allowed his new wife to take the girl to a medical centre, without her mother’s permission.
There she was immunised for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio, HIB, measles, mumps, rubella and meningococcal C.
The father told the court he hoped to continue to “secretly vaccinate” her because he did not want to play “Russian roulette with her health”.
He said he wanted to protect her from infectious diseases, and he was also concerned the child of his new wife, who is now pregnant, could contract a disease from an unvaccinated child.
The mother, who lives with her daughter, said they lived a “simple and healthy way of life’, eating organic and unprocessed food and avoiding toxins.
She said they built up the immune system of the child through homeopathy and through eating organic and biodynamic food.
Her daughter had already been given 28 homeopathic remedies to try to protect her from diseases.
The girl was infected with whooping cough when she was in kindergarten, but the mother said this showed both homeopathic and traditional vaccines were not 100 per cent effective.
She said she gave her daughter antibiotics and Ventolin for her asthma.
Justice Victoria Bennett said evidence from a senior Royal Children’s Hospital paediatrician was that there was insufficient evidence to prove the efficacy of homeopathic vaccinations.
The parents must now ensure that the girl receives all vaccinations recommended for her age and in future.
In her ruling, made on October 19, the judge was critical of the father’s attempt to secretly immunise the girl, saying it reflected poorly on his attitude to parenthood.
She said the mother had openly followed a homeopathic immunisation program and had acted in what she thought were her daughter’s best interests.
She described the situation as a “dreadful and ongoing parental conflict”.
Parents of almost 31,000 children have recorded a conscientious objection to immunisations, compared with 4271 objectors in 1999.
– with Brigid O’Connell