Herd Immunity

Free Webinar – Herd Immunity – Myth or Reality?

Herd Immunity
Herd Immunity – Is it Real or is it a myth?


I am going to be hosting my first free fortnightly webinar on Wednesday, November 29th from 8 PM to 9 PM (NSW Time). I have chosen to run these on Zoom which is a free (for you  ) online platform that has good sound and video quality.

If you would like to attend, please contact me at this link so I can send you an invitation. Please do not share your invitation with others – just direct them to this page where they can register and I will be happy to send them an invitation of their own.

The format will be a discussion of one issue regarding vaccination (each Webinar will discuss a different issue – this one will be about Herd Immunity) following by a Q & A from the audience about issues that concern you.

There will be a bibliography available for all attendees with links to articles and other information regarding the topic of herd immunity so please do come along for an educational and (hopefully) fun hour of discussion on this topic.

Meryl Dorey

PS – feel free to share this with others.

PPS – if you would like to suggest topics for future webinars, please do so at this link. I look forward to seeing you at this event!

Interview on 2CC Canberra: Ken McLeod and Meryl Dorey

Sherri Tenpennyby Meryl Dorey

As mentioned in the last blog post, Canberra Radio 2CC interviewed both Ken McLeod from Stop the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (SAVN) and myself regarding the up-coming vaccination seminars with Dr Sherri Tenpenny.

SAVN admins appear to be a little bit embarrassed by Mr McLeod’s ‘performance’ on the program and the usually resourceful admins were unable to find the audio file for this interview. When a member of the Facebook group asked if Ken McLeod had been interviewed on 2CC, SAVN admin, Katie Brockie Kate Squires (correction by admin) replied:

It did indeed happen. Our own Ken McLeod was on as well, but was hoodwinked by Ms. Dorey’s appearance. Not sure if there’s a copy of audio. 

Well Katie, never fear! We have a copy of that audio and have transcribed it for your reading pleasure! And perhaps, while we’re at it, you can explain how I hoodwinked Mr McLeod when he was interviewed before me and was able to say whatever he wanted to say without interruption?

Freedom of speech? Not in their Australia!

SAVN has been trying their hardest to get Dr Tenpenny’s visa to enter Australia revoked and to bully the venues where she will be speaking to break their contracts to host these talks.

It is obvious, listening to Mr McLeod, that SAVN has no respect for personal rights or freedom of speech. He is also not above bending the truth in order to besmirch the reputation of the good doctor.

Below is a transcript of the interview which took place on January 7, 2015. I have provided a copy of the text to the presenter, Mr Rod Henshaw, and if he provides me with any corrections, I will be sure to update this blog. I do not believe there are any errors in this text however.

Interviewer: Rod Henshaw (R)

Interviewees: Ken McLeod (K), Meryl Dorey (M)

R:              A number of Australian doctors and expats … experts I should say, not expats. Well, maybe they’re expert expats, but a number of Australian doctors and experts are calling on the federal government to stop a prominent anti-vaccine campaigner from entering the country. Sherri Tenpenny is the author of the Saying No to Vaccine and is due to begin an Australian speaking tour in March, but Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is currently receiving advice on the issue, but Ken McLeod is from the Stop the AVN organisation. Ken, thanks for joining us.

K:              Oh, good afternoon Rod.

R:              Why shouldn’t we let Sherri Tenpenny into the country?iStock_000011256677XSmall

K:              She’s a very effective campaigner against vaccines and that’s not a good thing. She claims that vaccines are responsible for mass murders, including the Sandy Hook School massacre, that vaccines cause SIDS, autism, they disconnect the brain from the universe, etc, etc. We’re afraid that the end result of her tour is that some well-meaning parents will be conned. Sherri Tenpenny is not your average ratbag, she’s in a class of her own. We’re frightened that if enough parents are deceived the end result is misery, extra stress on the health department budgets, occasionally death and so on.

R:              But aren’t you underestimating the average intelligence of the average Australian in this case? I mean, aren’t you … there’s two questions I’ve got here, but that’s a first one. Are you … aren’t you assuming that the parents can’t pick and choose for themselves and work out what’s right and what’s wrong?

K:              You’re quite right. Most people, and I’m saying right up there in the 90% of the population can follow good advice, but there is that small number who can be dissuaded and that’s been proven in the statistics and that percentage of it is the number of people that we are worried about.

R:              But we do hear people from other walks of life coming out with totally outrageous things and we’ve heard it with Muslims in this current climate and all that sort of thing. Now, this doesn’t really differ too much from there because we can actually say well you’re an idiot, we don’t believe you, go back home if you want to and all this sort of thing, but at least we give them the right of free speech which you don’t seem to be willing to give … to extend to this person.

K:              That’s right. Yeah, it is a very difficult issue and I would say that your right of free speech ends where it has any effect on … an effect on the health of my children.

R:              Yeah, is that really the answer? You haven’t really answered the question. You’re saying she can’t come because we don’t agree with what she’s saying and you put a few very vibrant examples there, sure, I give you that, but still she’s surely entitled to express those opinions if she so desires and we’re so entitled that we can say bugger off, go home, we don’t want you and we don’t believe you, but let’s hear you first.

K:              Oh well, the problem is of course that in … what you might call an opinion is actually a disproven fact. She shares things that are clearly untrue, disproven by the science, and it wouldn’t matter if no one was hurt. So Australia has a proven track record of barring entry to people who can cause disharmony or endanger public health and I’m referring to Julien Blanc, the chap who ran seminars on how to seduce women and just use them for sex, David Irving, the Holocaust denier. We would say that Miss Tenpenny is up there in that league, but we do recognise that this is an incredibly difficult decision for the minister. We should … we are saying that the minister should, at the very least, deny Tenpenny a working visa, which mean that there would be no speaking fees, no payments, no entry fees, etc, etc.

R:              Okay, I am playing devil’s advocate with this, as you can probably tell (both laughing), but I am serious about the democracy thing, I mean, it reminds me of an old line out of one of those BBC television series, I forget which one, where they say democracy is fine, but why give it to the people? And it comes back to …

K:              (Laughing)

R:              … my original thing is couldn’t … shouldn’t we be …

K:              Yeah.

R:              … trusted enough to make our own minds up on this?

government-lies-truthK:              Yeah and that is the problem. I mean, if we’re discussing the existence of aliens and flying saucers and so on no harm is done, but where someone is using misinformation to persuade parents not to vaccinate their children and being very, very convincing about it, we think, you know, there’s a barrier there. There’s a bar that has to be brought down.

R:              Okay, well we’ll have to leave it there. We do have somebody from the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, but I’ll put you on hold just in case you want to have a listen and we’ll go to her and then … but in the meantime I do thank you very much for your time this afternoon.

K:              Yeah, thanks Rod.

R:              Thanks Ken. Ken McLeod is the … from the Stop the AVN organisation and, as I mentioned, we do have somebody from basically the other side of the coin, if you like. Meryl Dorey is founder of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network. Meryl, good afternoon.

M:            Good afternoon. Thank you.

R:              I don’t know how much you heard of that. Do you have a comment, a response?

M:            Oh, well I heard much of it. I don’t know how long Mr McLeod was on, but I heard some of the things that he claimed that Doctor Sherri Tenpenny was saying and it reminds me of a statement made by, I think his name is Goebbels, tell a lie long enough and often enough and it becomes the truth because what Mr McLeod was saying was not what Doctor Tenpenny has ever said. She has never claimed that vaccines cause mass murder, she’s never linked them with Sandy Hook, this is all just an attempt to smear her and personally …

R:              But can …

M:            … I think that if …

R:              Just before you go any further, I got to play …

M:            Sure.

R:              … devil’s advocate with this one too. How can you say she hasn’t said them? Can you prove that she hasn’t said those sort of things, those statements … made those statements?

M:            Well I’ve been following Doctor Tenpenny for over 20 years. She is above all an extremely moderate and intelligent person. All of her information comes from peer-reviewed journals. She has done over 20,000 hours of research in mainstream medical journals to gain the information that she shares with people who come to listen to her, so I would be very strongly … I would say very strongly that she’s never said any of those things. You know, if Mr McLeod has any proof of that let him prove it, let him show it.

R:              He seemed pretty …

M:            Until he does that …

R:              … straightforward and pretty strong with his views on that …

M:            He …

R:              … so I don’t think … I think … in fact, I would just suspect that in the court of law the defamation laws might come in if he’s wrong.

M:            Well, I hope they would too. I really do hope they would, because I don’t think that people have a right to tell lies about other people …

R:              That’s what I’m …

M:            … simply because ….

R:              That’s why I’m questioning whether he would actually go so … be so silly as to make those sort of statements if he couldn’t back them up.slander

M:            Oh, he’s done it before, so … I mean I have no doubt that he does not have the information to back that up. Like I said, let him prove it. If he proves it I will apologise and say sorry Ken, I was wrong, but I’m pretty confident that I won’t have to do that and what I want to say about this whole situation is that Australia is a democracy and in a democracy we have the right to disagree with each other, but we should also be defending others’ rights to say things that we disagree with. Australian parents are intelligent, they are very concerned about their children, they have every right and every ability to make these decisions for themselves after looking at both sides and asking appropriate questions from both sides. This …

R:              Meryl, it does come back … it’s incumbent on me to come back to say how can you prove that not vaccinating your children is going to be a good thing when we know so well that there is so many research papers and there has been so much documented evidence that kids do die unless they’re not vacc … unless they’re vaccinated?

M:            Okay, now first of all we have documented evidence as well. There is science on both sides and both sides … we don’t tell anyone that they shouldn’t vaccinate. Nobody tells anyone that. Doctor Tenpenny does not tell anyone that. All the AVN says is that there are risks and benefits to vaccination and it behoves all parents as responsible adults to get both sides of this information before making a choice for their children. The woman who is organising this series of seminars actually lost a child because of vaccination. My eldest child was vaccine-injured. Many parents who have chosen to look into this issue only did so after seeing one of their loved ones either die or suffer a serious reaction to a vaccination. We were not told that these things could happen. All the AVN is saying is that you need to get this information so that if your child has a reaction you know how to respond, you know what to do. You have a choice; vaccination is not compulsory. Everyone has the right to make this decision and it is wrong for any government, any medical community, to suppress, actively suppress, information that is sourced from peer-reviewed, mainstream medical literature that discusses the known risks and side effects …

R:              Well Immigration Minister …

M:            … of vaccination.

R:              Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is currently receiving advice on this issue, as I mentioned. How do you reckon he’ll go? Do you reckon …

M:            I have no idea.

R:              Do you think that there is a weight of evidence on the side perhaps of the people like Ken McLeod? And I will add that he is only one of a number of Australian doctors and experts who are calling on the government to stop her coming over here in the first place; it’s not just him.

M:            Okay. Ken McLeod is neither an expert nor a doctor. Ken McLeod is a member of a hate group called the Australian … Stop the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network. Their founder had an AVO order against them for making threats against myself for having phone calls coming from their home making threats against myself. This is the sort of organisation that they are dealing with. If the Minister for Immigration is making a judgement based on the law he will allow Sherri Tenpenny … Doctor Sherri Tenpenny to come to Australia. If he is making an emotional decision based on peer-pressure brought about by these people then he probably won’t and if he doesn’t it’s going to be a shameful situation for Australia. We should all have the right to speak our truth and people can listen to it. If they don’t want to … not listen to it if they don’t want to and they can also argue it and discuss it. I have been trying for many years to set up a public debate on this issue with everyone from the health minister on down and they continually refuse to present their information to the general public to let them make a decision. The parents of Australia are capable of doing this, they should be allowed to.

R:              Okay, you make a fairly strong argument. Then again, so does Ken, but as you say Ken has got to back that up and …

M:            Yes.

R:              … it’ll be interesting to see where it goes. So if he’s wrong and you’re right why don’t you serve him with a legal notice?

M:            Well, it’s not my name he’s smeared here, but I certainly think that Doctor Tenpenny would be interested in hearing what he has said, especially since she can prove that it’s not true and he has to prove that it’s true. He can’t just go about saying things like that without the proof to back it up.

R:              Yeah. It’s only one flaw there in Australian law … defamation law, truth is not necessarily a defence, that’s the trouble, but I think …

M:            Yeah.

R:              … you’re on the path there, you could be … it could be a very interesting result in court when both side … where both sides are presented accordingly.

M:            Thank you for the opportunity to speak here.

R:              Thank you Meryl.

M:            I appreciate it. Bye bye.

R:              Bye bye. Meryl Dorey, founder of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network. On 2cc. It’s 3:42.

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces which represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the AVN National Committee. The AVN is a forum, support and information organisation and outlet for discussion about the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations in particular – and medical procedures in general. We do not provide medical advice but believe that everyone has the opportunity and the obligation to do their own research before making decisions for their families. The information we provide (including your personal review of the references we cite) should be taken in conjunction with a range of other data, including that obtained from government, your health care provider and/or other medical source material to assist you in developing the knowledge required to make informed health choices.

Another day – Another Courier Mail Hit Piece

Laura Chalmers - Courier Mail Censorship Specialist
Laura Chalmers – Courier Mail ‘Journalist’

by Meryl Dorey

I don’t know why Laura Chalmers from the Courier Mail even bothers to contact anyone from the AVN before writing about us?

This is the third time she’s been in touch with me about a story in recent weeks and yet, she has never  reporting anything I’ve said. A few weeks ago, she even sent me a 2 or 3-page summary of our talk so I could approve it before she went to print –  and she  never used one word of what I had to say.

Let’s look at the bright side though – if she isn’t reporting fairly or in a balanced manner, at least she isn’t misquoting me or taking me out of context.

She has done the same thing with the AVN’s President, Greg Beattie – wasting so much of our time for nothing. Is this just window dressing for the Courier Mail? Are they just pretending that they really care or are interested in presenting both sides whilst continuing to report whatever will make their Board and their advertisers happy?

Who knows. But here, for the record, is what I sent Laura Chalmers last week when she contacted me about this ‘story’ (you can read the entire ‘hit piece’ by using the link at the bottom of this blog post) – and how ironic is it that the media is openly calling for censorship on ANY subject? Such a slippery slope!:

Dear Laura,

This is not the first time that attempts have been made to block the presence of someone from the AVN at a public event. SAVN did this a few years ago at Woodford and it resulted in a record number of people in attendance at the vaccination discussion. They were literally standing in the aisles and lined up out in the street 8 or 10 deep to hear the talk. The same thing can and most probably will happen if a similar campaign is run regarding my talk at this event.

Don’t forget that one of the SAVN stalwarts, Peter Bowditch, publicly confirmed he would debate me at the Healthy Lifestyle Expo and then, backed out, reneging on his promise to attend. The organisers have been actively seeking someone from the medical fraternity to come and present the other side for over 6 months, but nobody was willing to defend the anti-choice stance.  Since SAVN and the medical community appear to be incapable of holding their own on this issue before a live audience, they want to stop anyone else from hearing what I and the AVN stand for.

Censorship sometimes backfires and as a journalist, you should be aware of that. Perhaps you’d like to read some of the articles at this website: http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/backfire.html

Kind regards,
Meryl Dorey

For those who are interested in hearing about some of the potential issues with vaccination, please do come and hear me speak or just say hi to me at the AVN’s stand at the Healthy Lifestyle Expo in Caloundra. Here’s a discount ticket for you and your family. The organisers have literally been through hell and back over this issue. They have had their website hacked, threatening calls made to them and to the other stall holders and they have had to get the police involved. Yet, they are standing firm in support of freedom of speech and freedom of choice. If you believe in what they are doing, please take a moment to visit their website (click the discount ticket image below) and use the contact form there to drop them a line and say – WELL DONE!:

B1G1-VistaprintIn the meantime, below is a link to the article in today’s Courier Mail calling for the Expo to ban me from speaking. If the medical community and the media are fighting this hard to shut the AVN up, it means that we are on the right track. Those who have evidence to back up their beliefs do not try to censor opposition. They are happy to debate and discuss these issues in an open and respectful manner.

It is only those who have no data to defend their assertions who will, in desperation, take the immoral step of trying to censor those they disagree with.

Health experts call for ban on anti-vaccination campaigner Meryl Dorey at Healthy Lifestyle Expo | The Courier-Mail.

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces which represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the AVN National Committee. The AVN is a forum, support and information organisation and outlet for discussion about the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations in particular – and medical procedures in general. We do not provide medical advice but believe that everyone has the opportunity and the obligation to do their own research before making decisions for their families. The information we provide (including your personal review of the references we cite) should be taken in conjunction with a range of other data, including that obtained from government, your health care provider and/or other medical source material to assist you in developing the knowledge required to make informed health choices.

The Great Vaccination Non-Debate?

by Meryl Dorey

One sided debateThere is one side of the vaccination issue supported by those who believe parents should be able to access a broad range of information from many different sources. This side is not afraid of scrutiny and in fact, has been asking for better, more transparent research for decades. That side is represented by the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (AVN) and the other pro-information, pro-choice groups in Australia and overseas.

In opposition to this open and democratic viewpoint on scientific issues, there are organisations and individuals whose raison d’étre seems to be to prevent parents from accessing information freely and to threaten, harass and abuse anyone whose viewpoint on medical issues is not in accord with their own beliefs. That side is represented by the pro-vaccine lobby: the Australian Skeptics, Stop the AVN, certain members of both State and Federal Parliaments and some sections of the medical community.

Healthy Lifestyles Expo

In May of this year, I am going to be speaking at an event on the Sunshine Coast called the Healthy Lifestyles Expo.

The organisers originally contacted me in October last year to see if I would be interested in participating in a live debate on the subject of vaccination. Both sides would be presented and the moderator would ensure that equal time was given to each speaker with ample time allowed for questions from the audience.

Since this is something that both the AVN and I have been wanting to facilitate for some time, I was quick to agree.

The organisers were having a very hard time finding someone from the medical community to debate me, however.

They contacted Queensland Health, their Medical Local, a large number of doctors and even Stop the AVN and the Australian Skeptics. None of them would agree to defend vaccinations publicly.

The reasons given for the refusal to participate in a debate were:

a. There is no debate – there is only one side to this issue.
b. If people have questions, they should see their GP.
c. Fliers would be provided so a debate was unnecessary.

After a few weeks of trying, the debate was called off and instead, the AVN booked a stall at the Expo. As stall-holders, we were entitled to present a seminar which we were happy to do though we still would have preferred a debate.

At this point, the organisers posted an advertisement for my talk on their website at this page.

Almost immediately after this information was posted, the Expo’s website was attacked – twice. The organiser’s were signed up for many pornographic email lists (something that regularly happens to my own email address) and they found themselves targeted by a stream of hate messages on social media from people using the tag #stopavn.

They also received an angry post from Matthew Berryman, an SAVN member who works at the University of Wollongong.

Here is what one of the organisers of this event stated on their blog about Mr Berryman and the whole campaign to stop this debate from taking place:

“…the first comment by Matthew Berryman who has [a] PhD in complex systems modelling and analysis, yet tends to resort to name calling if he is rebutted, a very grown up response.

Mr Berryman sent the organisers of this event a letter accusing them of paying me to speak (in 20 years of public speaking on this issue, I have never taken payment for any of my talks though that is usually offered) and saying that the event was ‘unbalanced’ because they didn’t have a speaker from the anti-choice side!

The organisers offered Mr Berryman the opportunity to either debate me or, if he preferred, to get a stall and speak on the stage himself, just as the AVN was doing. He declined, stating that he was not qualified to speak on this issue.

Where we stand today

At this point in time, there is a possibility that Dr Rachael Dunlop from Stop the AVN and the NSW Skeptics may be debating me (please note – I have just heard from the organisers this morning. Dr Dunlop has said she will not debate me). For those who don’t know her, here is one of the Twitter posts she wrote about myself and others who have made an informed choice not to vaccinate:

Rachie Twitter

The organisers have stated that, regretfully, if someone from the other side does not come forward by the 9th of May, the debate will be cancelled and we will go back to just me speaking on the issue with no opposing viewpoint which would be a shame.

We need a conversation and a debate

The AVN wants parents everywhere to be able to hear both sides of this issue. We want them to be able to ask questions, discuss this subject openly without fear or favour and, in the end, to make the choices they think are best for their family. Without the participation of the pro-vaccine lobbyists – those same people who have been trying for years to make vaccination compulsory – it becomes almost impossible to provide parents with that balance.

We ask anyone who is reading this – whether they be a medical doctor, specialist, health official or from another area of the field of science – who would like to debate the subject in a respectful manner, to contact the Expo organisers via their website contact page.

We also ask that those who believe in free choice on health issues write a quick note to Wayne and Annie, the Expo organisers, to thank them for their strength and commitment to freedom of speech and scientific debate.

I’d love to see you at the Expo!

If you are going to be on the Sunshine Coast on the 24th to the 25th of May, 2014, I would love to see you at the Expo. Please do drop by the AVN’s stand and say hi.


One last note:

QLD Health has been given a free table next to the AVN stand on which to display flyers and other information about vaccination. When asked if they would also be sending someone who would be able to answer questions or discuss this issue with the parents in attendance, they said they would not and that anyone who had questions should be contacting their GP.

It is this sort of unresponsive behaviour; this running away from those whom they are supposed to be serving, that has many QLD parents questioning the commitment of their health authorities to the protection of the children of that State.

The AVN will always be there to support our members and to answer their questions. We will always be there to help members who are being discriminated against or harassed in some way because of their vaccination decision. We believe strongly in everyone’s right to make informed choices and wish that our elected representatives would take their responsibility seriously in regards to this issue as well. Citizens and residents of a democratic nation should not be living in fear that their government will take away their inalienable rights to read, discuss and decide about health issues as they see best.

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces which represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the AVN National Committee. The AVN is a forum, support and information organisation and outlet for discussion about the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations in particular – and medical procedures in general. We do not provide medical advice but believe that everyone has the opportunity and the obligation to do their own research before making decisions for their families. The information we provide (including your personal review of the references we cite) should be taken in conjunction with a range of other data, including that obtained from government, your health care provider and/or other medical source material to assist you in developing the knowledge required to make informed health choices.

Central NSW Seminar tour – first impressions

A week ago, I came back from a 9-city seminar tour of country NSW. I was very lucky to have had Greg Beattie, author of Fooling Ourselves on the Fundamental Value of Vaccines (this book is available in both hard copy and electronic versions) and Vaccination: A Parent’s Dilemma, join me for 7 of those 9 stops. For those who haven’t heard Greg speak, you don’t know what you’ve been missing! His information on the lack of evidence for ANY contribution vaccines may have made to the decline in deaths from infectious diseases is irrefutable (it comes from the Australian and other international governments). By using graphs plotted from government information which were taken from from his book, Fooling Ourselves, it is easy to see that what we’ve been told about the necessity and effectiveness of vaccination is not based in fact.

This was an amazing, invigorating and totally exhausting 2 weeks!

So many of those we met said they were inspired by our talks and yet, I felt absolutely inspired by meeting them.

A group of people in Moree (our second stop) were motivated to contact a woman who attended our Inverell talk (the first stop) and who runs an organic co-op for information on setting up a similar group in their town which only has one health food store and very little in the way of organic produce. They may also have coffee mornings to provide local support for families who have chosen not to vaccinate and are feeling very isolated in that decision.

A woman in Bathurst visited her local member of parliament and ALL of the local media outlets, asking them why these seminars were not being publicised even though community announcements had been sent to all radio, and television stations as well as to newspapers well in advance of the event. The result of her activism was a large article in one of the local papers and a radio interview as well. She felt so good at having been successful in her efforts, and I felt incredibly supported simply through the fact that she had cared enough to go to the trouble of working on this issue off her own bat!

One of our professional members paid for a copy of our seminar flyer to be published as an ad in the local newspaper. This person did not take this action for any accolades it may have brought them. In fact, if I hadn’t seen a copy of the paper myself, I never would have known! They also paid for several of the practice’s clients to come to the talk because they felt the information was needed by these particular people. How’s that for dedication and doing something for the right reasons?

I will find the time to do a more in-depth analysis of some of the events that took place over the two weeks of our tour including actions by a potential candidate for the Australian Democrats for the seat of New England who harassed the Tamworth Ex-Services Club, asking them to cancel our talk there. The Club was so supportive! They kept a lookout for any trouble (there wasn’t any) and told me that the CEO had told this ‘gentleman’ that the last time he’d checked, Australia was still a democracy which meant that people had the right to express their views without fear of being shut up or shut down. Perhaps the Australian Democrats need to think carefully before allowing this person to be preselected for such an important seat?

Those who attended

And there were indeed two members of Stop the AVN who came to the talks. I will give more information about their appearances in separate blog postings, but there was no trouble from anyone, thank goodness!

The talks were not well attended. Part of that was due to the media not publishing our community announcements and the fact that we did not have the funds to advertise these events otherwise. Part of it was due to an organised campaign by members of Stop the AVN to tear down our posters which had been put up by volunteers and AVN members in these communities.

In one town, we personally put posters up on 3 community bulletin boards at 7 PM. By 10 the next morning, the two that we checked were gone. One of those was behind a glass front in a case! So not only do SAVN want to make it impossible for parents to choose not to vaccinate – they also want to stop them from getting any information that is not fully pro-medical.

In addition to these influences, however, the story we heard over and over again at each venue was that people were afraid to come to AVN talks because:

1- They feared that there could be violence at these events from members of Stop the AVN who are so incredibly vocal about their plans to harass anyone who supports informed choice; and

2- They were afraid that friends might find out they had come to the seminar and as a result, they would be blacklisted in town and their children would be victimised.

Those who did come, often drove long distances – over 2 hours in some cases – to get there. They had to drive home late at night on roads made dangerous by kangaroos and wombats but they did it because they were so hungry for knowledge and support and I thank them from the bottom of my heart!

The medical brown shirts

What has Australia come to when caring parents who have made informed choices in the best interests of their own children have to be afraid to let people know about these choices?

Why is it that parents who know nothing about this issue feel they have the right to berate and abuse families who are well-informed simply because their own fear of diseases has caused them to hate those whose unvaccinated children, they feel, might put their fully vaccinated kids at risk? Where is the logic? Where is the intelligence? Most of all, where is the understanding that in a democracy, we all have the right to make these choices?

I would love to have your input on these issues. Do you have any ideas about how to empower parents to own their health decisions because I can tell you right now, there are many more families in Australia who have decided not to vaccinate then we can tell from the small number of conscientious objectors. Many parents have chosen to forego the childcare payment and the maternity immunisation allowance just so they wouldn’t have to front up to a potentially abusive doctor or clinic nurse to get their conscientious objector form signed. The problem is that they all feel isolated and unsupported and think that they are the only ones who have made that decision.

Where do you stand? If you have chosen to vaccinate your children, are you concerned about them being around unvaccinated kids? If so, why? Do you think that harassment or abuse of non-vaccinating parents is justified and if so, why>

If you have chosen not to vaccinate, are you nervous about sharing that decision with your friends and family? Have you been placed under extreme pressure by your community and / or a medical professional who has – for whatever reason – tried to get you to change your mind?

Lastly, does this sort of pressure make it more or less likely that you will vaccinate? Does harassing parents for their medical choices make them change those choices or just make it more likely that they will go ‘underground’ with their decision and withhold information about their decisions from those around them?

Please let me know where you stand on all of this. All comments will be approved unless they attack someone, use foul language or are abusive.

Australie: les officiels redoutent le débat public et refusent d’envoyer des orateurs – Le blog de Initiative Citoyenne

Australie: les officiels redoutent le débat public et refusent d’envoyer des orateurs – Le blog de Initiative Citoyenne.

How do you like this? Belgian coverage of our press release on the refusal of the Public Health Unit to front up and defend vaccinations at our seminar next week. So Belgium and the UK are covering this issue but the Australian media are pretending nothing is happening.

Public Health Unit Turns Down the Offer to Speak at Vaccination Seminar | Vactruth.com

Public Health Unit Turns Down the Offer to Speak at Vaccination Seminar | Vactruth.com.

Thanks to Christina England and VacTruth for blogging about the ridiculous situation where public health officials are happy to force vaccination on every man, woman and child in Australia but won’t come out to support that decision in public where they might have to answer questions or defend their opinion. It is very telling, isn’t it?

Going Underground

During World War II, in the occupied territories of France, the Netherlands and many other countries that had been taken over by the Nazis, an underground movement grew which opposed the dictators and fought to bring back their elected governments. Working from the shadows, they found ways to circumvent the fascist dictatorship that ruled their countries. In the end, their efforts were an instrumental part of assisting the allied forces to claim victory in Europe.

Over it’s almost 225 year history, many Australians have fought and died in wars which were supposedly to protect freedom – whether the freedom of Australians or of our allies. Yet, I believe our government today is guilty of taking away or abridging many of the essential freedoms our fathers and grandfathers lived and died to preserve.

Though Australia is nominally a democracy, as I have explained in past blogs and articles, its law-enforcement and government bodies have chosen to turn a blind eye and ignore tort law in regards to the obvious bullying and interference with commerce and contractual relationships which have been perpetrated so openly by members of the Australian Skeptics and their splinter organisation, Stop the AVN. These organisations, science’s Brownshirts, are blatant in their opposition to freedom of speech and freedom of communication.

They want to take away our voice, burn our books and destroy our right to choose.  Just as the original Brownshirts wanted to blame the Jews for the institutional failures of Nazi Germany, these organisations want to blame complementary medicine and the unvaccinated for their own failure to promote health or prevent disease. As a result, they are losing the faith of Western society as evidenced by the fact that, though their treatments are free while others are costly, people are refusing to ‘drink their kool-aid’ because they know more about the risks and ineffectiveness then ever before.

Many of the members of these organisations are working hard to ensure that our right to choose natural therapies (see the activities of Friends of Science in Medicine for one example of these efforts) or to say no to vaccines or dangerous and potentially unnecessary medical treatments for our children is taken away.

As anyone who has been reading this list for any time at all would be aware, these bullies have also targeted the venues and locations where the AVN and other health freedom activists have been scheduled to hold seminars or public talks by:

1-    Contacting the venues and telling them lies about the organisation and people involved in an effort to get the venue to cancel contracts.

2-    Putting ads in local papers in opposition to these seminars or appearances.

3-    Targeting the event even if the vaccine safety group is not the organiser but simply the participant to try to get them to cancel the appearance (as evidenced by the recent Woodfordia Festival kerfuffle).

4-    Spending massive amounts of money (from where?) setting up stunts such as hiring an airplane to circle the venue towing banners.

5-    Intimidating attendees in advance by stating they will be there to ‘set the record straight’, implying a confrontation between themselves and the people who are coming to hear the speaker.

None of this should be allowed in a democracy but of course, when it comes to the issue of vaccination choice, government authorities and regulators seem more than willing to not only turn a blind eye towards these breaches of our laws, but in fact, can often be seen openly participating in them.

Another activist in the area of vaccination has also been copping flack from these abusive bullies at the Australian Skeptics and Stop the AVN. She is a woman who lost a child to vaccination. After close to 30 years of research and participation in the health freedom movement, she is now sharing her knowledge and experiences locally at small seminars she has set up herself.

Being aware of the targeting of these events, she has worked out a way to counter these pseudo-skeptical abusers – she has gone underground. At her latest talk yesterday, where 60 people were in attendance, she was able to exclude the trouble-makers by taking the following steps:

1. There were no tickets sales at the door.

2. All tickets were sold on-line or by credit card prior to the event.

3. No location was revealed until the night before the seminar – the only details were that it was held within a certain number of kilometers of a central location.

3. Mobile phone-numbers were required at the time of booking.

4. The venue location was notified by SMS the night prior to event.

In this way, she was able to keep not only herself, but those who came along to hear her speak, safe from the threats posed by these two groups.

Going underground is a valid and intelligent way to deal with those who break the law with the full cooperation of those who are meant to uphold it.

If we can’t rely on the police or the government to protect us from persecution, we have to take matters into our own hands and find ways to work around the institutional abuse apparently approved at the highest levels of our society.

Woodfordia – from another perspective

The following was written by a friend who came with me to the Woodfordia Festival this year. Her take on the events is great because it gives another perspective to what can happen when a group opposed to freedom of choice decides to shoot themselves in the foot by overcapitalising their opposition to the AVN in front of a crowd that believes in freedom of speech. This group spent $2,800 hiring a plane to circle the venue, thinking that this would bring people around to their way of thinking. All it REALLY did was antagonise the crowd and make more people think about, talk about and decide to investigate the other side of the vaccination debate. Here’s hoping that those who try to suppress freedom will always fail so spectacularly!

I was somewhat surprised in mid-December last year to receive an invitation from Meryl to attend the Woodford Folk Festival with her.  Surprised because I’d never heard of the festival. So, of course I had to go. The programme of speakers and musicians promised a very busy week. Then there was the food.

Originally Meryl’s talk was on the increasing rate of autism, but this was changed to a talk on vaccination with an immunologist presenting the vaccine side. Meryl, contrary to many reports, was fully aware of the change and assisted in the hunt for the other speaker. Some of her opponents can thank her for their inclusion in the hunt for this speaker.

Her venue on the day was standing room only, with overflow outside. An aeroplane flew overhead towing the banner “Vaccination Saves Lives”. It was apparently up there for two hours at a cost of $2800. The plane was certainly noticed by the festival attendees. I don’t know whether it influenced attendance at the talk or not. The publicity prior to the event probably influenced that more so than the ‘plane, though the plane might have jogged some memories.

As is the case at these events, you talk to a lot of strangers. Everyone at the Festival is identified by an arm band. This band is colour coded so security can restrict access to the performer’s area and other parts of the Festival. As I was with Meryl I had a performer’s band. People would ask me what I was doing as part of the Festival. I had to confess that I was a mere hanger-on, there to support a friend.

I would then tell them who I was with and what Meryl was talking on. The first thing most people said was “Did you see the plane!”.  So, yes the plane was noticed. We would then talk about the opposition to Meryl, and every person I spoke to thought that she should be allowed to talk. They were surprised at the level of opposition to her. Some I spoke to were people who did not vaccinate, others did not mention their beliefs. I spoke to performers and the general public, and the opinions were the same. Trying to suppress an unpopular belief does more harm than good.

The general opinion on the ‘plane was that it was a desperate measure to silence a critic. There was disbelief when I told of how sponsors were inundated with emails and tweets urging them to tell the Woodford organisers that Meryl should be dropped from the programme or they would withdraw their sponsorship.

At one stage there was great glee among her detractors because two names did disappear from the sponsorship page on the Woodford website. Unfortunately they failed to notice the appearance of the “media partners” link on the same webpage, and this is where the missing names were relocated to. They were media partners, not financial sponsors, so should not have been on the sponsorship page.

I witnessed many people coming up to Meryl to thank her for being there. Some also brought stories of their own vaccine experiences, which were not positive. I saw Meryl go from being concerned about her possible hostile reception to being relaxed, positive and overwhelmed by the reaction of everyone. If anything, the whole episode has made her stronger and more determined.

Of course, I only spoke to a dozen or so people. There were thousands at the festival. The majority of whom probably had no idea what the ‘plane flying overhead was all about. Nor did they care. They were there for music, food and fun.


Is there anybody…out there?

Hello, hello, hello

Is there anybody in there?

Just nod if you can hear me

Is there anyone home?

Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd

OK, that is a bit of a messed-up question. Of COURSE there is and whoever is ‘out there’ is a real person despite all the electronics between them and me. There is a reason I’ve asked this however so please read on.

I have been to no fewer than 3 forums here at Woodford on the issue of effective uses for media and social media. At every one of these, at least one person in the audience has bemoaned the fact that due to outlets such as FaceBook, Twitter, blogs and other social media, people no longer seem to speak face-to-face and they have begun to lose that ‘common touch’ of real human contact.

Of course, there would then be someone who would bring up a story about an 80-year old they know who is now able to stay in contact with their grandchildren in the UK or the isolated farmer out bush who can finally chat with their brothers and sisters now that they have an internet connection and access to social media.

I myself rediscovered my High School friends and was able to attend a 35th reunion last year due to FaceBook. The AVN has extensively used many forms of social media to stay in touch with our supporters and to network closely with other vaccine safety organisations both here in Australia and New Zealand as well as around the world. We are in contact with groups on every continent apart from Antarctica and that simply could not have happened without social media.

As you would probably be aware, my participation with the Woodfordia Folk Festival this year caused all kinds of angst. From the pressure on festival sponsors (including the QLD government) to withdraw their funding, to airplanes flying over the venue with a banner trailing behind saying “vaccination saves lives”, this year’s Woodfordia received an awful lot of press about the question of whether or not both sides of the vaccination debate should be heard. I found this a bit confronting at first, but also satisfying.

Why satisfying? Because if people were talking about vaccination, they were also thinking about vaccination and that’s what the AVN wants. We want people to consider why they are vaccinating and for their ultimate decision to be based on information – not fear or ignorance. So, the more people think about this issue, the more people there will be making informed choices rather than default decisions. Whether that choice is to vaccinate fully, selectively or not at all is not something the AVN is concerned about – we just want to protect parent’s rights to get complete information and make a choice without pressure, penalties or coercion.

Of course, the downside of the attention the AVN has garnered is the inevitable (it seems) abuse dished out by those who are concerned with preventing people from obtaining information on the other side of this medical procedure. And whilst I am now used to bearing the brunt of this hate-fest that seems to spring up around me wherever I happen to be, I do have to say that it can be a bit hurtful at times because I am a human being and the parent of a vaccine-injured child myself, though most of those who are writing the hateful and sometimes disgusting things about me seem to forget that (or perhaps they don’t really care?).

One person crossed my path during my time here at Woodfordia in a most unexpected way however. A person I’d never heard of before but one who has restored my faith in the basic goodness of most people and also made me realise that anyone can fall into the trap of dehumanising other through the outlet of social media. I thought long and hard about writing this blog because I don’t want to leave her open for the sort of vilification I have been getting, but as you will see, she has already come in for more than her fair share of this (though I am hopeful that this story won’t lead to more) and like me, has learned to not take the abuse so personally any more.

This person’s name is Clementine Ford and she is a young freelance writer who, as many people of her age (and not so many of mine), has wholeheartedly embraced social media. She has written extensively for many different web and non-web media outlets including the rather conservative Adelaide Advertiser newspaper and the more left-thinking ABC Drum.

As I said, prior to hearing her speak, I had never heard of Clementine. I was drawn to a forum she participated in on the subject of climate change ‘denialism’. I will write more about the forum at a later time – it was quite interesting and raised some very important issues – not only about the vital question of the unsustainable usage of our beautiful planet, but also about the conduct of scientific debates and how we treat those who disagree with us which, I must say, is a topic I am quite passionate about.

I listened to the forum in the morning and that afternoon, I participated in my own forum at the Blue Lotus. I was unaware of this at the time, but Clementine Ford was one of the people sitting in the audience and as I was speaking, she was sending out a steady stream of tweets which were, to put it kindly, not supportive of the message of the AVN that I was conveying nor were they considerate of me personally.

Let me make this clear – her messages were far from abusive! There were members of Stop the AVN (SAVN) present who were certainly sending out abusive messages on twitter, but Clementine Ford was not one of them. She did make some rather uncomplimentary personal comments about me which as I said, I am used to so I wouldn’t have worried too much about them anyway. Compared to some of the things SAVN members have been saying about me, Clementine’s posts were almost tame!

But an interesting thing happened later that night which sort of turned things around for both of us, I gues

Here at Woodfordia, there is a special area for ‘performers’ called the Green Room. Filled with smelly lounges and day beds which are well worn but comfortable and, most importantly, power points to allow us to charge our phones, laptops, ipads, etc. (None of us seems to travel without electronic devices these days!), it is THE place to be when you aren’t speaking or watching someone else perform.

In any case, after dinner, I went to the Green Room to use my laptop and charge it. There was a woman sitting in front of the bank of power points and I just asked her if I could please reach past her to plug in. She turned around and I saw that it was Clementine Ford. I didn’t think more about it, but in plugging in my laptop, I accidentally knocked her on the shoulder and apologised for it.

That was it as far as I was concerned, but apparently, politeness has become even more or a rarity today then even I had noticed because right after our meeting, Clementine Ford sent out the following tweet:

I know being polite doesn’t make you less wrong. But it makes it harder to truly hate the person. Why couldn’t Dorey be a pushy horror?

This blew me away, to be honest.

When we first started our Facebook page (over 2 years ago, now), one of the first messages I received was from an anonymous ‘fan’ who said – “We’re coming for you, baby killer.”

At the time, I had been working with this organisation for over 15 years and had never had a death threat or anything hateful said to me before. Of course there had been arguments and heated discussions, but there was always at least the minimum amount of respect and certainly never threats of violence. Those encounters were all either face-to-face or on the phone – not quite as anonymous as the current contacts with SAVN.

When I went to the police after receiving the first threat on FaceBook, the officer behind the counter was quite unsympathetic. She simply said that if I didn’t want to get threats, I should get off of social media. I did not feel that was an appropriate response but there you go – when those who are meant to uphold the law abrogate that responsibility, the average citizen has nowhere else to go.

As anyone who has been reading this blog for any time at all would be aware, since that time, there has been a non-stop stream of attacks against the AVN – mostly targeting me as a person. Thanks to the support of Dr Brian Martin and my wonderful family, I have been able to keep this abuse in perspective and have learned to view them more as a reflection of the people sending the messages then of me or the AVN.

One of the things that has always intrigued me when considering these attacks is the fact that the anonymity of the internet seems to not only enable but encourage a certain type of person to make personal and vile attacks against those they disagree with. The net is full of trolls and SAVN seems to have more then their fair share.

I have often wondered whether – face-to-face – these people would be as strident and to be honest, I hope I never get the answer to that question. But the fact is that being on line has made me a target and that is something I have simply had to come to terms with.

In considering this situation, the one thing that comes through very clearly is the fact that the internet has made people less real to each other. Those people who have been asking me to die in a fire are not speaking to Meryl – they are addressing nocompulsoryvac. And when someone asked if they could chip in on a contract to kill me, they were not considering a mother of 4 but just an organisation that is not alive anyway – it’s just a presence on a network of computers.

Where is all this going? We’re getting there so thanks for your patience in reading this far.

That little encounter with Clementine Ford had an outcome that I think neither of us planned but it is one that we really all need to think about.

Clementine no longer saw me as some idiot who doesn’t care about children. Instead, I was a human being who she disagrees with but who has feelings that she did not want to hurt.

The day after our meeting in the Green Room, there was another forum that Clementine participated in. To be honest, I didn’t go because of her, but Andrew Bartlett was speaking and he is someone I have a great deal of respect for – plus, the subject concerned social media and that is something I am always interested in!

I sat right up front and obviously, I saw Clementine quite clearly and she saw me too.

During the discussions, someone in the audience mentioned the fact that Clementine had recently received some very abusive messages on her online articles. There was also another female journalist in Melbourne who had messages saying that she should be raped with a broom. The discussion turned to abuse of those who are on social media and Clementine looked straight at me and started to speak:

I think that the way that women are attacked in the media is – I think that sometimes people do go after them purely because they’re a woman and sometimes, I think that their being a woman just opens up a whole new way of them  being criticised.

…I think I try and be quite honest in my writing and I think I try and be quite self-reflective and I try to judge myself as well.

Im just going to share a little story from yesterday. I noticed that Meryl Dorey is here in the front row. I got to see Meryls speech yesterday on the anti-vaccination stuff and look, I dont agree with anti-vaccination (ed note: neither do I!) and I was tweeting through it and I dont think I was vicious and vile about Meryl but I may have made some sweeping statements the way that people do on Twitter, having 3 days before had people make the same sort of statements about me and however used to it you get, it does hurt your feelings when you read it.

And I was charging my phone in the Green Room last night and this very lovely lady tapped me on the shoulder and said, Excuse me, do you mind if I just plug my computer in? Thank you very much. It was Meryl and I thought, God, its actually, Its funny when you meet someone in person and you realise that all of the things that you feel hurt by about the way that people talk about you its because they dont see you as being a real person either. They see you as being an identity on the internet.

So I did feel really bad about that actually because while I might disagree with what shes saying, I think you have to be really conscious that if youre asking people not to speak about you in that way, then you have to try hard not to speak about other people that way and that is the reality of, especially being on Twitter, that in 140 characters, somebody can just decimate your character, particularly if they feel resentful of the fact that you have a position they might not want you to have

All the positive comments that youve got from people can be totally eradicated by 5 people saying that youre an attention-seeking whore. And that is something that you have to kind of cope with on the internet, especially if youre a woman, but people are just going to say awful, vile things about you and can you deal with it?

I never expected that. I never expected that someone who attacked me thoughtlessly would think again and realise that yes, I am a real person. But Clementine got it! From a simple accidental meeting and her own experience with having hurtful things said about her on the internet, she realised the impact these sorts of attacks can have on another being.

I invite those members of the SAVN who have been attacking me non-stop for the last 2 1/2 to 3 years to do the same thing. Take a step back, consider moderating your language and let’s get back to playing the ball – not the person. Just because we disagree with each other on a scientific issue is no reason to continue the abuse.

Let’s disagree, and let’s communicate about that. Let’s accept that we may never reach a common ground but that in the end, the truth of the matter will emerge regardless of what we do today but understand that we are all concerned with the health of children and we all care deeply about our own families and our own choices.

I know that the real ‘die-hards’ of SAVN will just look at this and take it as a challenge to try even harder to continue the attacks. But I also know that there are many good people involved with that group who would not want to be associated with this type of behaviour and yet, they have been sucked in due to their commitment to the issue of vaccination.

There are better ways to get your point across – there are more productive methods of debate. I invite you to join in the conversation.