Why isn’t the Health Care Complaints Committee’s inquiry transparent?

by Meryl Dorey

11074700_sIf you have been following this blog for any length of time at all, you would remember that we have been covering an issue of vital importance to everyone living in NSW specifically and Australia as a whole. That is the issue of an attempt by the NSW Health Care Complaints committee to grant yet more unprecedented powers to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC).

Many of our members and supporters have sent written submissions to this committee explaining their objections to these proposals.You can see the page on the NSW Parliament website which will provide you with information on this inquiry – The Promotion of False or Misleading Health-Related Information or Practices.

Originally, the time period for submissions was supposed to end in December, 2013. It was then extended until the 7th of February 2014.

I personally know of more than 50 submissions to this inquiry made by AVN members. There would be many more.

In my experience, whenever a parliamentary inquiry has called for submissions, those submissions are published on the website as they are received or within a matter of days of receipt. In this instance, however, no submissions have been made publicly available and in fact, most people who submitted to this inquiry have not even received a confirmation that their submission was received.

At the end of February, 2014, I contacted Mr Jason Arditi, the Committee Manager, to ask why none of the submissions had been uploaded to the committee website even though submissions had been closed by, at that point in time, a couple of weeks.

I was told that the committee had not yet considered any of the submissions but that they would be meeting in mid-March and would consider them at that time and they would be published by the end of March.

The end of March came and went and again, no submissions were uploaded.

I contacted Mr Arditi in early April and at that time, I was told that the Committee had indeed met in March but had not considered any of the submissions. They were due to be considered at the meeting being held in mid-April and the submissions would be uploaded by the end of that month.

I asked if it was normal procedure to not publish submissions until they had been considered and Mr Arditi informed me that it was neither normal nor abnormal to proceed in this way. Whilst most committees do publish on receipt, this particular committee had chosen to do things differently.

The end of April came and went with no submissions on the committee website.

I contacted Mr Arditi on May 1st to ask why, once again, no submissions had been uploaded to the website. He told me that the committee had, in fact, considered the submissions during their April meeting and that they would be uploaded. It’s just that some of them were defamatory in nature so they would need to have sections blacked out before they were made public. He assured me that this would be done and they would be there by Friday, May 9th. Today, in fact.

I  asked for a firm publication date during my last conversation with Mr Arditi and he gave me his assurance that these submissions would be online by today but disappointingly, they are not there. Won’t they make the slightest attempt to appear transparent by abiding by their promise to publish these submissions?

A less trusting person than myself would be starting to wonder if the committee was trying to hide something? Why this ongoing failure to inform the public of the reasons why those in the community oppose their intended power grab?

Maybe one of you will have better luck getting an answer than I have? If you’d like to contact Mr Arditi, his details are below. Please let me know if you do get a result. We have a right to see this information and to consider what the committee has considered.

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.

AVN’s Charity Licence – The REAL story

by Greg Beattie,
AVN President

23640487_sThere is so much misinformation getting around, it’s bewildering. We expect misinformation from a group calling itself “Stop the AVN” – that’s what they do with their spare time. But throw in a couple of mischievous journalists and politicians and you have a recipe for a fantasy blockbuster.

By now you may have heard we have shed our charitable fundraising licence. This is true. And it’s something we’re still popping the corks over. It’s one of the best things that has happened to the AVN for a long time. We have been trying to get rid of that licence for many years, but, for so long, we couldn’t. However, a few recent changes allowed us to tackle several issues in one move. The licence was one of them. Let me explain.

You’re probably wondering what a charitable fundraising licence is, why we had one, and why we wanted to get rid of it. Moreover, why we couldn’t do so for so long. Sit back for a moment and I’ll explain. It’s important that you understand this issue and how it relates to your organisation.

When the AVN was formed in 1997 it took over the reins from an existing entity – one which was in the process of folding – called the Australian Council for Immunisation Information (ACII). Although the committee were not aware at the time, one of the things we inherited was a charitable fundraising status and licence. ACII had been set up with this capacity and it literally landed in our lap. It meant AVN could conduct fundraising as a charity. In other words, just like the various cancer, homelessness, mental health, and other appeals, AVN could go door-to-door, or run a telethon, or whatever, presenting itself to the public as a bona fide ‘charity’, and ask for money.

What’s a charity? 9005670_s

Now you might be thinking “But all organisations raise funds, don’t they?” The answer is yes. They charge membership fees, hold cake stalls and other events, and accept donations from anyone who chooses to give. The difference lies in what they do with those funds. If they build a new clubhouse, upgrade equipment, pay workers or contractors, run courses for members, or a host of other things, they’re fine. They don’t need a charitable fundraising licence, because those activities are not ‘charitable’.

So which activities are charitable? Well the definition is slightly different depending on which jurisdiction you operate in but, basically, if the money is raised to provide relief for people in distress – such as food, shelter, clothing, or education – then you are engaging in charity.

So where does the AVN fit into this? Well it doesn’t. And that’s the point. We are not a charity, and never have been. But here we were holding this charity licence. Each year the management committee would go through the ropes tending to the various requirements for this licence, but we were getting no benefit from having it. I guess the committee thought it might come in useful someday, but that day was never really discussed. Until then, it was nothing but a mild drain on our resources.

Let the groaning begin

Then came the birth of ‘Stop the AVN’. Quite apart from their well-known abuse and harassment, this group made it their business to lodge complaints about us to every regulatory body they could think of. They figured that by doing this they could completely tie us up responding to them all, and no one would have any time left to talk (or write) about vaccination. For those who aren’t familiar with this side of life, every complaint requires at least ten times the effort in defence.

One of the bodies they started complaining to was – you guessed it – the office that administers charities in NSW. It’s called the Office of Liquor, Gaming, and Racing (OLGR). In fact they lodged a multitude of them there. The complainants argued our licence should be revoked because, in their opinion, we were a danger to public health.

The OLGR required us to defend ourselves or lose our licence. Well… this was a licence we didn’t even use. We certainly didn’t need it so we asked if we could just surrender it. And this was where the battle over our charity licence began – back in 2009.

We were informed that if the licence was surrendered we would not be allowed to raise funds any more. The reason… because we were considered to be pursuing a charitable purpose. And why was that, given we weren’t engaged in any charitable activities? Apparently, the answer lay in our ‘constitution’. The wording of our objectives indicated we did in fact pursue a charitable purpose. So we were stuck with it. And that meant responding to all the inquisitions (and there were quite a few).

Fast forward to 2014…1016131_s

We finally have a new constitution! One which outlines exactly what we do. One which demonstrates clearly that we do not pursue a charitable purpose. Now we can raise funds without the licence… just like every other organisation. As soon as our constitution was changed we wrote to the OLGR and surrendered the licence. We were finally free.

But boy are the folk at SAVN upset? They are seething. One of their major avenues of complaint has just dried up, and they had no idea it was happening. So now they’re trying to put their own spin on the story, telling everyone that they had a major win. But make no mistake – this is the best thing that’s happened in a long time, and those in the wheelhouse of AVN are breathing a long sigh of relief.

Why did it take so long?

Well, to be honest, the constitution was changed, but not for this purpose. Other reasons drove that. The decision to change our constitution was made early last year, during the appeal process for our name-change. Our barrister complained that our objects were far too broad. They made his job difficult. According to the objects, we were to be all things to all people. (I guess it’s no wonder the OLGR saw us as a charity.) We decided to wait and see whether our name had to be changed, and process both together. Since both required a special resolution to be passed by 75% majority at a general meeting, there was no point going to the trouble of doing it all twice.

While we waited, we sat down and drafted new objects, describing as accurately as we could just how we saw the AVN. At the end of that process we looked at each other, and said “Hey, that’s definitely not a charity.” This revelation prompted us to search further to determine how charitable purposes were defined. Boy was that difficult. It turns out they’re different, depending on the jurisdiction you’re in. In our case (NSW) the definition was quite broad. It used three words – benevolent, philanthropic, and patriotic. If you came under one of these you were a charity. We didn’t.

It’s easy now to look back and see what the problem was, but for quite a long time the committee found it difficult to understand why the AVN was seen as a charity, and why we seemed to be stuck with this label forever.

We had already been subjected to many inquisitions by the OLGR, including one audit in 2009 where two of their staff spent two days in our office, going through everything financial. On another occasion we had our fundraising licence suspended because the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) issued a public warning against us. This warning was later found to be unlawful by the NSW Supreme Court and our licence was handed back to us. The orchestrated complaints seemed to stream constantly for years, and the OLGR were obliged to act on them.

The latest

There was in fact another ‘show cause’ sent to us in January, just as we were going through the change of constitution process. Two professors provided affidavits to OLGR swearing that, in their opinion, we provided misleading information.

This time, we gave a short response outlining the fact that we were in the process of changing our constitution to better reflect our purpose and activities and we would no longer be needing the licence. Oh, and also that the two complainants were known opponents of the AVN and were also financially conflicted.

We must say, however, that the OLGR itself has been particularly pleasant to deal with over the years. The staff were helpful and always had time for us. Still… we’re glad it has come to an end.

[Note: Throughout this article I have used the term ‘we’ when referring to those who carried out all the work. I wish to stress, however, that I have only been a part of the committee for a little over a year, so the vast majority of compliance work associated with this licence was carried out by others.]

The AVN – our finances are an open book

by Meryl Dorey9710598_s

Yesterday, the AVN was contacted by Amy Corderoy who is the Health Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. She had been contacted by members of Stop the AVN – the organisation that has been set up to harass, abuse and threaten our members in order to force our group to close down. Due to their complaints about the AVN, Amy Corderoy wanted to let us know that she had asked an independent accountant to look over the AVN’s financial records over the last 7 years and that they had ‘concerns’ about what we have spent our money on for the year 2010. I will have more to say about 2010’s financial report later in this blog. According to SAVN’s accusations however, none of our money has been spent for a charitable purpose and therefore, they felt that we should be investigated.

Let’s see – in the 2 years since we won our case against an illegal investigation carried out by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission, we have been investigated by 6 federal and state departments (Charity Departments in WA, VIC and NSW, The Department of Fair Trading in NSW, The Australian Tax Office, The Health Care Complaints Commission) a dozen times. And every single one of these investigations was in response to complaints by Stop the AVN. Now, we have journalists carrying out an investigation at the behest of this organised hate group whose founder publicly stated that he would be the cause of my demise. Perhaps instead of responding to Amy Corderoy’s email,  I should be telling her that if she wants to investigate the AVN, she will need to take a number and wait in line?

The last straw

I am writing this on behalf of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc. (formerly the Australian Vaccination Network, Inc.) and also on my own behalf – as the founding member of this organisation, its public officer and, until very recently, it’s President.

For more than 5 years, members of Stop the AVN, some sectors of the government and the media have been slandering and defaming both myself and the AVN, claiming, amongst other things, that there have been financial improprieties with our group.  They have claimed that every cent the AVN took in went straight into my pocket and that I am ‘living the high life’ on the back of our members’ support.

Ironically, when the Sydney Morning Herald sent a couple of reporters out to my home a couple of years ago to allow me to tell ‘my side’ of a story (what a joke that was!), they described my house as being ramshackle – perhaps because we haven’t had the money to paint or landscape it since I have let my volunteer-work for the AVN take priority over paid employment?

Below are links to our financial reports which have always been available should people request them. As opposed to the accusations being spread by SAVN:

  1. Our financial records have been audited every year since 1998 when we became a charity authority holder. This is one of the requirements of holding that license, as opposed to simple incorporated associations who do not have the same level of scrutiny.
  2. Our financial records are overseen by both the Department of Fair Trading and the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing. This happens every year.
  3. In fact, in 2009, due to the vexatious complaints of Ken McLeod of SAVN, the AVN was audited by the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing whose representatives spent 2 days here going over our books and many weeks studying our financial records. Though they found some minor errors and one larger mistake that had been made by the organisation, they specifically stated that there was no evidence of fraud or other illegal activities and that these were the sorts of errors they would expect to see with any small, understaffed volunteer-run organisation.
  4. All AVN Committee members are and always have been volunteers. Both myself and Greg Beattie, our President, work full time quite often, sometimes more than full time, on jobs for the AVN without receiving any payment.
  5. For a few years, I was paid for my role as the Editor of Living Wisdom magazine. That was the only time in the over 20 years I have been involved with this organisation when I was paid. I was not paid for my role on the committee but rather for my role as Editor. Amy Corderoy’s email contains the following statement (quoted verbatim):

    They [the accountant consulted by the Herald] have also highlighted the editor payments for Living Wisdom

    2007 Total $ 15,840 4 issues published. Editor fee per issue: $3,960
    2008 Total $ 17,490 3 issues published. Editor fee per issue: $5,830

The implication appears to be that I was making the princely some of nearly $16,000 for one year and nearly $17,500 for another so, ipso facto, I was getting rich from my work with the AVN. In actuality, I was earning between $1,250 and $2,400 a month for between 120 to 150 hours of work. This is far less than what the average wage earner would be making.

2010 – the year from hell

The one year when our financial report really does have some serious deficiencies is the year ending on the 31st of December, 2010. Let me set the scene. At this point, we had been under attack for nearly 18 months from Ken McLeod and the other members of the Australian Skeptics and SAVN. These attacks had been very public and had included death threats, the mailing and emailing of pornography and a string of very public false accusations. We were involved in a court battle where our solicitor and barrister had both appealed to the court to suppress their names because they were afraid of becoming targets of these hate groups and the court itself had to have security guards present because members of SAVN had indicated they would be present at the hearings. We were unable to find a forensic accountant to write a report for the court, because they told us they were too scared to work with us. Can you imagine it? These professionals – who regularly work with organised crime gangs and the like – were too scared to work with us.

We were also unable to find an auditor to prepare our end of year financials for the same reason. I had personally contacted dozens of them and all declined after finding out that it was our organisation calling. Many of them were on side on this issue but they all said that they feared SAVN and the Australian Skeptics and did not want to go on record as having prepared our end-of year report.

The Department of Fair Trading was threatening to deregister us if we didn’t provide them with our financials and we were desperate when we found a local auditor who said he would take on the job. This person had – from memory – over 6 months to do so. He was given an absolute deadline as to when this needed to be submitted along with our form A12 and he agreed to finalise his report before then.

In the end, despite all of my cooperation; despite being provided with boxes and boxes of our financial records and me sitting in his office for hours to go over everything and his off-sider coming to our office for the purpose of due diligence, he did not finish the job until 3 days after it was due. In fact, I feel confident in saying that he did not START the job until that time since every time I called and asked how the audit was progressing, I was told he would be looking at our work ‘soon’.

You might presume that he was doing this for free because he cared about our group when in fact, he charged more than any other auditor had up until that point. Since our return was going to be past the deadline, he called me in to sign it so he could send it off to the Department of Fair Trading straight away. I signed it there on the spot without going through it in detail to avoid further delays.

It wasn’t until getting home with my copy that I noticed that he had pre-dated the paperwork to 3 days earlier. In fact he had been so careless, he had put another company’s name and address at the end of the document rather than ours! By then, the damage had been done and SAVN have made as much of this poor return and the errors in it as they could.

I contacted our solicitor to ask about suing this accountant and was advised not to do so because even though this was a truly terrible job, it would cost us more to pursue a lawsuit than it was worth and we simply didn’t have the funds to do this and fight fight all the other battles we faced.

At this time, our committee is considering paying another auditor to redo 2010’s books, but we wish that stress that any implications that improper uses were made of funds during that year are without basis and only due to the malicious intent of SAVN.

16553570_sReal News or Smokescreen?

Yet journalists are being lobbied by members of the SAVN who seem to think that the irregularities in our 2010 statement is news. Perhaps some journalists might feel that Australians really care about the measly remuneration I received for the work I put in as Editor of the AVN’s magazine. Perhaps they would be correct in that assumption.

But I think they need to know that intelligent Australians can see through these smokescreens. What they care deeply about are the real crimes being committed by drug companies and health authorities in Australia every single day (for example, how the Health Care Complaints Commission did nothing to stop Graeme Reeves, the Butcher of Bega, from maiming more than 500 women).

The AVN’s payment to staff is not really news, but the following stories are and strangely enough, they don’t seem to have found their way onto the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald (or most other newspapers in Australia):

  1. Dr Brian Hooker fought for years to get the Centres for Disease Control to release data they had suppressed on the link between thiomeral – the mercury-based preservative which used to be in childhood vaccines – and the development of Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Dr Hooker was finally able to get these details under Freedom of Information. It showed that there was a 7.6 times increased risk of ASDs in children who received mercury-containing vaccines.
  2. Neuroscientist Chris Shaw and Biochemist Dr Lucija Tomljenovic published research indicating that HPV (so-called cervical cancer) vaccines “may trigger fatal autoimmune or neurological events in some cases”. A search of the entire Sydney Morning Herald database showed nothing for these well-published researchers, but there was plenty of drug-company sponsored ‘research’ saying how great this vaccine is and how every man, woman and child in Australia should be getting it.
  3. Speaking of the HPV vaccine, while Australia was expanding the use of this vaccine from girls and women to boys and men, Japan stopped recommending it because of the high number of serious reactions and deaths following the shot. Did the Herald request the services of a specialist investigator to look into this situation and report back with the truth so they could report that back to their readers? Sadly, the answer is no.
  4. Multinational pharmaceutical company, Johnson and Johnson, was fined US $2.4 billion for the fraudulent off-label marketing of its anti-psychotic medications to vulnerable children, the elderly and the disabled. Did the Sydney Morning Herald get up in arms about those who were killed and permanently injured by Big Pharma for profit? No – they were too busy pursuing the AVN and trying to smear me personally for making the princely sum of $600 for 60 hours work back in 2009.

These attacks against our organisation and the individuals who support it are nothing more than a blatant effort to intimidate those who speak publicly on this issue. Just as Dr Andrew Wakefield and his research was used to warn any doctor of what would happen to them if they dared listen to parents of vaccine-damaged autistic children. The AVN, our committee and our members are being used to set an example of what will happen to anyone who speaks out in support of informed choice and the example isn’t very nice at all.

We have nothing to hide

The AVN Committee invites you to examine our financial records – and make up your own mind about how our ‘millions of dollars’ have been spent and whether you feel that this is a legitimate news story or simply another arm of a witch hunt targeting a group of parents who care so much about the rights of Australian families, they are willing to put themselves through this abuse without any hope of personal profit or advancement. We do this simply because we are passionate about making a stand for what we feel is true and just.

Meryl Dorey,
AVN Public Officer
















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.

Yet another HCCC complaint filed against the AVN

13820759_sNot content with having fought and lost a costly battle in the NSW Supreme Court, only to have been found to have acted illegally in investigating the AVN, the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) is back at it again. Please click here to read about this incredible waste of time and taxpayer dollars once again being perpetrated by a government body meant to protect Australians from dangerous doctors, but who, instead, seem more interested in preventing people from discussing politically sensitive issues such as the risks and ineffectiveness of vaccination.

We would like to ask everyone reading this to help us publicise this issue in any way possible – by email, letters to the editor, via social media or on your own blogs and websites.

Australian government departments attack basic freedoms

Woman ShhhhUnlike almost every other democracy, Australia’s constitution does not include a Bill of Rights, meaning that basic rights which citizens of other nations take for granted such as freedom of speech or communication, may not necessarily be protected under the law. (1)

This has allowed certain government departments free reign to act against community groups (and others) almost at will and in opposition to what most reasonable people would consider to be fair or in the public’s best interests.

Persecution of the AVN by government departments

A recent example is the demand by the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Fair Trading that the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), an organization which has been registered under that name with the Department for over 16 years, change its name due to complaints and concerns from ‘within the community’. The AVN is a community based information and support organisation that supports the right of all people to make free and informed health choices – especially when it comes to the issue of vaccination. Whilst their Constitution and Code of Ethics specifically restrict them from taking an anti-vaccination position, they are opposed to any form of compulsory vaccination or medication.

These complaints, for which a GIPA (Freedom of Information claim) has now been filed, appear to have originated from two sources:

1- Members of the group, Stop the AVN (SAVN) – a hate group whose sole reason for existence is to force the AVN to close in any way they can. Their tactics have included harassment, death threats, posting of violent pornography, hacking the AVN’s website and a flood of vexatious complaints to various state and federal government departments, leading to investigations which may have cost the Australian taxpayers millions of dollars. (2)

2- The Australian Medical Association (AMA) – an industry lobby group which represents approximately half of all Australian doctors. The collective prestige of the medical profession obviously suffers each time vaccination is called into question.

So the ‘community’ does not appear to have been concerned about the name of this venerable organization. Only a very small but vocal sector who, for whatever reason, have managed to get the ear of the Minister – a Minister who is already under a cloud for having too close a relationship with property developers whose activities his portfolio is meant to regulate.

Protecting corporate interests

As a result of complaints by this small group with strong vested interests – the Minister has not only ordered an organization to change its name (the first time this has been done for these reasons according to preliminary legislation searches), but he has introduced and passed (in record time) legislation to make it easier to do so into the future. (3)

This echoes the AVN’s experience with the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), another NSW government body.

In 2009, a member of SAVN filed complaints against both the AVN and its President, Meryl Dorey, claiming that their information was not supportive of vaccination and therefore, it should not be allowed to continue. The complainant asked that a gag-order be issued against both Ms Dorey and the organization, preventing them from speaking about any health-related issue.

A 3-year battle ensued during which time the AVN was cited by the HCCC as being “dangerous, deceptive and misleading” – a ruling that cost the organization its ability to fundraise and its charity authority. A decision by the NSW Supreme Court in April 2012 overturned the HCCC’s warning, reinstated the AVN as a charity and informed the HCCC that the complaints which it had spent a year investigating were not valid complaints in the first place.

The government is now, at the request of the head of the HCCC, in the process of changing the law so that ANYONE can complain about ANYONE who talks about health – PROVIDED they are not doctors for whom the old laws will still apply! Bear in mind that the HCCC was formed to act as a ‘policeman’ for rogue doctors but has, over recent years, been effectively coopted into a police force for the doctors and government-approved medicine. These law changes that have been drafted to specifically target the AVN will now formalize the persecution of alternative medical practitioners or dissenters.

Perversion of due process

In the 8 months since the AVN won its case against the HCCC, they have been targeted by more than a dozen complaints handled by 7 different government departments in NSW and other states nationally.

When government departments pervert or instigate legislation for the benefit of corporate interests, to pander to hate groups or to silence community groups who are critical of government policy?and are operating within the law, it seems that all pretense of justice or democracy becomes nothing more than a sham.

(1) NSW Council for Civil Liberties – Stand Up For Our Rights – http://www.nswccl.org.au/issues/bill_of_rights/australia.php
(2) Dossier of Attacks on the AVN – http://avn.org.au/dossier-of-attacks-on-the-avn/
(3) Unacceptable Names Legislation (Amendment) – http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au

Further reading on this issue

The Australian Vaccination Network Must Go, Sayeth the Government – http://gaia-health.com

Government Puts Boot into the AVN, Democracy and Truth – http://avn.org.au

Setting the record straight

The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) has held an authority to fundraise (granted by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) in NSW) since 1996.

Complaints from members of the organisation Stop the AVN,  a group which has been trying for 3 years to force us to close our doors through harassment, bullying and vexatious complaints to government departments, the media and venues where we have hosted seminars, saw the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) pursue an ‘investigation’ of our activities and subsequently, the issuance of a public warning against our volunteer-run association.

As a result of this public warning – and ONLY as a result of this public warning – the OLGR revoked our authority to fundraise.

In February of this year, the AVN won its case in the NSW Supreme Court against the HCCC. The judgement said that both the investigation and the public warning were Ultra vires – in other words, illegal and outside of the HCCC’s jurisdiction.

Since the warning was no longer valid, the OLGR has seen fit to reinstate our authority to fundraise

Stop the AVN and their minions have claimed that the revocation was due to fraudulent activity by the AVN. This is not true and they have stated many other things about our organisation as a whole and myself personally, which are both untrue and defamatory.

OLGR Findings

In a statement dated 18 April, 2012, the OLGR said that, “The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) has received legal advice that the revocation of the Australian Vaccination Network’s charitable fundraising authority can not be sustained.”

During the OLGR’s audit process and in their report to the relevant Minister prior to the revocation, the OLGR noted that several administrative errors and breaches of the Act by the AVN had been discovered. In this Report, these breaches, which they identified as technical, were expressed to be of a minor nature, not uncommon in the not-for-profit sector and not sufficient in and of themselves to warrant cancellation of our fundraising authority.

In fact, it was hinted that, were the OLGR to rely upon these technical breaches to take such an action, it is probable that this might be interpreted as unfair since the OLGR admits in this same Report that many other organisations continued to fundraise despite similar or identical breaches.

Provided the AVN took steps to rectify these problems (which we immediately did), the errors found by the OLGR were not of a nature to require revocation of a fundraising authority.

In summary

  • When the OLGR took the step of revoking the AVN’s long-held authority to fundraise, they did so solely as a result of the HCCC’s illegal investigation and public warning.
  • Once the NSW Supreme Court deemed that the HCCC had acted outside of its jurisdiction, the OLGR no longer had grounds to persist in refusing our organisation a valid authority to fundraise
  • As a result, on April 17th, 2012, the AVN was again awarded an authority to fundraise that will be valid for 2 years.
  • Lastly, even whilst our fundraising authority was revoked, the OLGR stated that it was clear that the AVN pursued a charitable purpose, meaning that without a valid authority, we were not able to accept new members nor could we receive donations from members of the public. Other organisations such as Stop the AVN and their parent group, the Australian Skeptics, do not pursue a charitable purpose and therefore, there are no restrictions on their fundraising activities nor are they required to be audited or to be accountable to anyone for the money they collect and how it is used.

The AVN has always taken its responsibility to our members – whose support has never wavered over this long and difficult period – very seriously. We are grateful for their support – it is only because of our membership that we have been able to pursue this issue in the courts and to gain vindication from both the Supreme Court and the NSW Government in this case.

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Supporters of health freedom respond to censorship

I am due to present one seminar and participating in a forum on toxicity at the Woodford Folk Festival in a bit over 2 weeks’ time. (Thursday, December 29th from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM – Autism Emergency – 1 child in 38; Friday, December 30th from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM – Forum on Toxicity – both at the Blue Lotus)

Of course, Stop the AVN (SAVN) and their minions are once again trying to censor this side of the issue. Through one of their main spokespeople – a prominent character with both the Australian Skeptics and SAVN, they have started a campaign on the internet via blogs, their Facebook page and emails to the Woodford management and their sponsors. They claim that allowing information on the downside of vaccinations to be aired at this venue is dangerous and the Festival should cancel my appearances. They are also threatening to boycott the sponsors.

These are the same people who claim that allowing parents and other interested parties to access information on the risks and ineffectiveness of vaccination is going to harm all of society including those who are fully vaccinated! They feel that you are not intelligent enough, or discerning enough, to be trusted to make your own decision by being made aware of all available information. In fact, they think that it is their right to determine what you can and cannot know because as your betters and as representatives of the scientocracy that is currently governing Australia, they have decided that you have to offer up your children to vaccination for the greater good without question and without choice.

Two articles on this issue (well, an article at the bottom of the page and an update on top) have appeared on the mamamia blog which is notoriously anti-choice. The articles are rabid – the comments to these articles are toxic. The most obvious thing is that none of these people has any scientific reason for objecting to our participation at Woodford – they simply disagree with our viewpoint. As a result, they feel that nobody should be allowed to hear our side of this debate and are trying to force their censorship on the Festival. In fact, they say there IS no debate – there is only one side to the vaccination issue and only scientists and doctors should be allowed to discuss it in public and the rest of us should just shut up and do what we’ve been told!

We urgently need anyone who believes in freedom of speech and communication (no matter what your opinion is about the benefits and risks of vaccination) to send letters to the organisers and the sponsors to let them know that there is a real need in the community for information on the other side of the vaccination issue. Please take 5 minutes to write a quick letter and send it to the following addresses (please use the BCC field in your email if at all possible). As you can see from the letters below, you don’t have to write a lot – one or two sentences is fine. It is very important that you DO write however. You need to defend freedom of choice in Australia – it will take all of us working together to maintain our health freedom.

Here are some suggested points to make:

1- Why you chose not to vaccinate or to vaccinate selectively.
2- Your personal or family experience with vaccination (or non-vaccination)
3- How much research you have done on this issue.
4- How the AVN has helped you.
5- Why you support Woodford and their sponsors for allowing this issue to be aired.

Of course, feel free to include any information you’d like! I know how precious time is so just make this as long or as short as you are able – as long as you write it and write it soon!

At the bottom of this blog post are the letters which have been sent since last night. Feel free to ‘borrow’ from them for your own letters – I’m sure the author’s won’t mind!

Here are the email addresses for the Woodford Festival as well as my email to bcc your letter to:


And here are the sponsors – many of these are web comment fields so just copy and paste your emails into the forms.

Queensland Government
Brisbane Marketing
Moreton Bay Regional Council
Midell Water
Clarke Kann Lawyers
US Consulates
Skill Centred
ABC Coast FM

Thanks so much for your help with this very important issue. It is up to us to ensure that informed choice and freedom of communication are supported.

Yours in health,
Meryl Dorey

Censorship is not an Australian Custom

Vaccination is a choice. People have the right to choose. People have the right to stay informed. Censorship on this issue is un-Australian.

My Brother and my husband both had reactions in their youth and were advised by the GP not to continue with the program. This was back in the 70’s. My children having reactions on both sides had much higher risks of reactions than other kids.

Without the AVN, I would not have been able to make an informed decision. I asked the Dr’s about reactions and side affects from vaccinations and on what substances were in the injections and they were unable to answer any of my questions properly. Most seemed uninformed.

Keep the line of information open.

Thank you,


Woodford Folk Festival – Meryl Dorey AVN presentation

I am writing with regard to the Woodford Folk Festival soon to be held, where in Meryl Dorey of the AVN is scheduled to speak on the issues around vaccination.

It is my understanding that certain groups of people are trying to stop Meryl from presenting at this forum and I would like to urge you to please allow her to continue with her presentation. I have personally attended one of her presentations and found it to be extremely informative.

As a parent researching this issue I have visited multiple doctors and health nurses and could not get any satisfactory or informative answers to my questions. I got the same standard response such as ‘the Wakefield study was a fraud’ ‘Autism is merely a coincidence based on the age it presents’ and my questions were usually met with hostility. However Meryl’s presentation was not based on her own opinion, all her material was on stats, facts and information that I found to be extremely educational and assisted me in my own research into this issue and it was an opportunity to discuss the issues the doctors just cannot answer.

Parents are asking these questions and doctors don’t or rather can’t answer them. Putting your head in the sand won’t make these questions go away – These issues need to be brought out in the open so that we all can learn and do what’s best for our children.



AVN Seminars 


I just wanted to email you to see if it is true that you are considering cancelling the seminars set for Meryl Dorey of the AVN.  I implore you not to cancel these seminars if for no other reason that people have the right to both sides of the vaccination story.  For too long parents have been going along with what the Government and their doctors tell them they must do without any knowledge of the consequences.  We have the right to this important information and Meryl is the one who is willing to stick her neck out and help us parents to be informed.

I work with people and animals in my natural healing business and see probably more than most the damage caused by vaccinations.

Please support the AVN to share this important information.  Don’t cancel the seminars.

Kindest regards


Kudos to the Festival


I am just emailing to offer my support to Bill following the transcript that has been put up on the Mama Mia website (that I will now be boycotting).

Vaccination is an important issue to many people and deserves to be discussed publicly.

I commend the festival for supporting freedom of communication and I hope that the bullying tactics that often surround the vaccination issue will not deter you in continuing to support free speech on this issue.


Thank you

Dear Bill, Ingrid et.al.,

I want to thank you for putting Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) on the program this year. I realise that this is a very emotive and contentious area and that there will be many people who do not want her to speak.

It is vital that the facts about vaccination are available for everyone to make an informed choice. The AVN provides much needed information on latest research and findings about the efficacy and the risks associated with vaccines. This information is hardly ever covered by the mainstream media or the medical profession.

I have read widely on the subject of vaccinations and have found the AVN an invaluable source of information.

I am volunteering for my 9th year and Meryl is the person I am most excited about seeing this year.

Again, thank you so much for making the bold decision to allow this very courageous and determined woman to speak.




Dear Woodford Folk,

As an avid patron of your great festival I am writing to you to express my concern about the pressure you may be feeling to cancel the appearance of Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network. I understand that there has been a concerted campaign to have her silenced by small but vocal group of people who believe open debate about health issues is dangerous.

I would like you to know that the AVN is fantastic volunteer organization that has helped my family enormously as we have zigzagged our way through parenting with healthy and no so healthy children. Their support and advocacy for vaccine injured children is extraordinary.

I would be very disappointed if the free, open spirit of the festival I love so much was tarnished by the organizers bowing to pressure to exclude The AVN from making a presentation.

I will definitely be there to hear Meryl speak.

Thank you,



To the organisers of woodfordia,

I would just like to voice my support for the Vaccination information session you have organised as part of Woodfordia Folk Festival this year.  Open information and education is such an important part of a healthy society, and I urge you not to be persuaded by people trying to silence Meryl and the AVN.

Each and every person should have the right to decide how to raise their own children, and open access to information is vital in allowing this to occur in the best interest of the children.  I have chosen not to vaccinate my children to date, and I have 6 very healthy kids.

However, I remain open to reviewing all information, both for and against vaccines, and I would change my position on vaccines if the evidence were to show they are either adequately safe, or adequately effective

Kind regards,


Keeping everything in balance

Meryl Dorey at your festival. It is good that you have given her theopportunity to lend some balance to this subject which has been highjacked by people with an agenda.



Meryl Dorey at Woodford


I am writing in relation to the contention that appears to be surrounding Woodford’s decision to include Meryl Dorey from the AVN in the festival program.

I would just like to say that I am so impressed that Woodford has included Meryl in the program and I sincerely hope that the actions and reactions of a few angry and misguided people won’t deter you from having her speak at the festival. I have seen the articles that have been published about this issue on the Mammamia website and I have tried making peaceful comments on the page to present the other side of the issue, however some people can be very aggressive and stubborn about this issue and they have mostly responded with a lot of unjustified anger and downright rudeness.

I am sure you have included Meryl due to your own appreciation for alternative health and natural therapies and the desire to spread awareness of alternative forms of health care. I believe it is so vital that people have access to this information, and Meryl is one of the only people with the courage to speak publicly about this issue and present the alternative side of the story. I myself have chosen not to vaccinate my own child and only came to this decision after weeks, bordering on months of research and careful deliberation. Instead I continue to work very closely with a leading (and extensively published) naturopath who has had excellent results in curing a number of conditions in people where modern medicine had written them off. He also strongly advises against vaccination and has had first hand experience witnessing the severe and life threatening reactions that children can have to them. I myself know of at least 3 families whose children have suffered scary reactions to routine immunisations.

Not only do I believe with all my heart in the benefits and power of natural medicine and the decision to avoid medical intervention such as vaccination where possible, but I have a wide circle of friends and associates who share these views. Many of these friends are musicians who have played at Woodford over the years. There is a strong culture of people who wish to follow this path, and the culture is growing rapidly. I believe Woodford is a crucial platform for supporting this culture and has been for some time.

It goes with out saying that my family and I wholeheartedly endorse Woodford’s decision to allow Meryl to enjoy her right to free speech and to offer her a platform in which to present a safe, effective and alternative model of health care for the children of today and tomorrow. I beg you not to give in to these fear-mongering people who are threatening to boycott the festival and the sponsors.

Thanks to people like Meryl, there is more positive change occuring in the field of health care than ever before. People should have the right to choose on this important issue and to consider the information this courageous woman has to present. Unlike the majority of ‘research’ on vaccination, hers isn’t funded by massive pharmaceutical corporations.

Well done Woodford, you have always been progressive and created a wonderful space for the non-conformist, creative, and radical free-thinking individuals of this world. As they say ‘any publicity is good publicity’ so enjoy creating a stir and I wish you every success for the festival and the Meryl Dorey presentation.



AVN Lectures

The Woodford Festival is one of fairness, family values and honesty – I feel that the issue of vaccination is one that many of your festival goers would be most interested in hearing about and would be impressed that you have actually stood up to Big Pharma in letting the talks by the AVN be aired.

As a health care practitioner I see so much injustice and harm done in the area of vaccination – we need proper investigation into this subject and I feel that the danger of immunisation is not being addressed properly.

I totally trust the ethics of the AVN and know that the smear campaign being waged towards it is very unreasonable and represents only a small number of radicals.  Most people I meet are only too happy to hear the other side (for a change!) and are getting so fed up with being fed the continual lies about ‘medical’ treatment.

The day when the pharmaceutical companies are no longer in charge of GP education and when GP’s are paid to report immunisation reactions, not just the fee to immunise, as is the case now, I will be very relieved and feel that honest science is back on track.

Please do not get swayed into preventing these talks by the AVN – please go and hear Meryl Dorey speak and you will be enlightened.

Thank you


Please don’t succumb to blackmail

Dear Woodford Folk Festival organisers

I am writing to you as I believe that there is a concerted effort by a small group of persons known as “Stop the AVN” who do not want to allow any debate or discussion to occur at Woodford on possible harm from vaccinations.

I believe that we still do live in a country with some democracy, even if this group does not . I hope that you do not allow this group to stop public debate on vaccinations.

While not an expert on vaccinations, I have done enough research to know that harm can and does occur. I also believe that with some particular vaccinations there is significant risk that does not balance the benefit.

I have followed the case of the 2 year child who died in Brisbane last year as a result of a swine flu vaccination and the Perth baby who is now brain damaged as a result of a flu vaccination. The parents of this child are now suing CSL

Public debate and realistic information on vaccinations is very necessary, particularly in view of the lack of any proper adverse effects monitoring in Australia. The adverse effects monitoring is done by the drug companies themselves, a case of the fox guarding the hen house.

I ask that you do not succumb to this group who want to stop debate. You might as well pack up now and not bother having a festival if important issues are not allowed to be discussed.

Yours with concern


Meryl Dorey speaking at the Woodford Folk Festival

Dear Woodford Folk Festival

It has come to my attention that there is some push to have the Woodford Folk Festival rescind its invitation to have Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network speak at the festival.

I would like to say that both personally and in my professional standing I feel this would be a tragic mistake.

All people deserve to make a well educated choice on the issue of vaccination and that can only be done where people have access to both sides of an issue.

I have researched this issue to the best of my ability for some 15 years now and I am completely and utterly convinced of the importance of the public having access to the possible down side of vaccination, as it is a very real downside. Those who wish to protect the current vaccine paradigm will do whatever they can to stop this, including where ever possible preventing freedom of speech.  People are not stupid, contrary to what the drug companies would have us believe, and having been given enough information are perfectly capable of making their own decisions as to what is best for their families – whatever that will be.

We must not lose the AVN.  It has been an invaluable source of information for myself and hundreds of people I have throughout the last decade sent to them for help.  I have never had reason to regret sending anyone to them or their web site for information.  It is imperative that their message not be stopped and I plead with you to not allow pressure that is being brought to bear allow you to stop Ms Dorey from speaking.

I have always loved the Woodford Fold Festival and it’s very existence and its longevity are proof that there is room in this world for all types of people with all tastes and belief systems.  Let’s not allow that to change now.

Remember “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. ” – Edmund Burke

I am afraid you are now in that unenviable position.  I pray you make the right choice.

Warm regards,


Woodford Festival

To the organisers of the 2011 Woodford Festival,

I am deeply concerned to learn that there is a campaign afoot by members of the SAVN and Australian Skeptics to have Meryl Dorey of the AVN removed from the program at Woodford Festival this year.

My husband and I are both well educated on vaccination.

We spent many months intensely researching both sides of the issue / debate when our first child was born.

Our sources were doctors, medical journals, books written by highly respected doctors and research scientists and symposiums.

One of the most glaring and disturbing realisations of the entire process was the lack of facts provided to the public of which we have the right to know.

Vaccines are not 100% effective nor are they 100% safe (far more people have died from vaccines or left dreadfully debilitated than are reported) and parents – and individuals – have the right to be fully informed before they make the choice to vaccinate or not – or in many cases : vaccinate by a ‘safer’ schedule which allows for the immune system to recover before being assaulted with another round.

The AVN and Meryl Dorey play a very important role.

I have known Meryl Dorey for almost 20 years. In that time she has never pressured or cajoled us to not vaccinate.

She and the AVN have been an organization that has provided factual information to families to aid them in their decision and she continues to support them no matter what they decide. The AVN is pro-choice and pro-information – which is more than I can say for our Health Department, that only provides selective and limited information in glossed-over and vague language.

It is the AVN that researches and provides factual and statistic backed studies and reports.

It is essential that Meryl be allowed to present at the Woodford Festival – without interference. She has incredible integrity, inner strength and grace.

Please do all you can to ensure she remains on your program.

Thanking you,



I would like to acknowledge and pay respects to the Jagera people and Yerongpan clan  in Forestdale, on whose land I walk, work and live.  I would also like to pay respects to Elders past, present & future.

I support Meryl Dorey at Woodford!

Dear Bill and Ingrid,

I understand that you have been contacted by an organisation to cancel Meryl Dorey’s opportunities to speak at Woodford this year. I am not normally a vocal person on the issue of immunization because I believe that people need to make their own decisions, as I have done for my family as a result of extensive research. However, this view pre-supposes free speech which I believe is under threat in this instance. The organisation that has contacted you is trying to stop any debate or discussion in the area of immunization choice. Individual choice on this issue is not being promoted, despite the growing medical data that shows that immunizations can do harm to otherwise healthy children. Information provision to enable choices to be made is part of a healthy, free society. I urge you to keep Meryl on the bill in the spirit of your festival.

Kind regards


Please let the Meryl Dorey and the AVN participate in the festival! 

To whom it may concern,

I have just heard that certain people are trying to get you to not allow Meryl Dorey to speak on the down sides of vaccination.  This really upsets me, I am a mother of 8 children, 6 of whom were vaccinated and 2 who were not.  Out of the 6, 3 have been diagnosed with Autism and Developmental delays, 1 with ADHD, 1 with a severe language disorder and the last one has severe mood swings and food allergies.  They also suffer from gastrointestinal disorders, Eczema, Asthma, Psoriasis, Urinary tract infections, ear infections, food allergies, chemical sensitivities.  My two youngest and unvaccinated children have none of their siblings disorders.  There is no history of Autism spectrum disorders in my or my husband’s family history, and we had genetic testing done and there were no abnormalities found, the only difference between our children is their vaccination status.

If only someone could have told me before I vaccinated my first 6 children that there were risks of serious adverse reactions, then I might have been able to recognise the symptoms in my children sooner, I might have been able to spare some of my children the monumental challenges that they now face.  My doctor had only warned me of the possibility of a slight bump at the injection site and a temperature, he never told me that they can suffer serious allergic reactions, convulsions, encephalitis and even death!  I took my children in to get their shots blindly believing that they would be fine and my children paid the price for my ignorance.

That it is why it is so important that both the pros and the cons of vaccination be able to be discussed by the people who are taking all the risks.  It is our families that are taking the risks, should we not be even allowed to discuss a medical procedure that ultimately affects our families?

I have now spent the last 6 years researching studies, attending forums, talks, seminars, reading books on vaccination, looking up statistical data and I have found that the lack of information provided on the risks of vaccination to the public by medical professionals is at the very best negligent.  When you go in to see a surgeon, they tell you ALL the risks that come with having a particular surgery yet when it is vaccination they just tell you about the most minor, why is this?

Parents should be entitled to know all the information in order to make a truly informed decision, and that is what Meryl Dorey is trying to do, provide information that is not being given to parents.  What parents decide to do with that information is up to them as it so rightly should be, because in the end it is up to them to decide what is best for their family and how can you do this without all the facts?

The other part of all this that disturbs me is the attempt to curtail freedom of speech, is there a law against discussing vaccination in public, the last time I looked there wasn’t so how can these people be allowed to get away with their bullying and censorship?!?

Lastly I would like to encourage you to not give in to the bullying and threats of these deniers of free speech, and make the festival what it was always intended to be a place for the community to come together and share ideas unburdened by outside interests and agendas.

I would also like to give my full support to you and to your sponsors for being courageous enough to allow freedom of speech a place in your festival.

Kind regards


Woodford Folk Festival

Hi there,

I have been reading about the Woodford Folk Festival and also that you plan to have Meryl Dorey give a presentation from the AVN.   I just want to commend you and thank you for giving this side of the vaccination debate a hearing.

More than the “for or against” argument of this whole debate, what I find really ugly and unaustralian, are the vicious attempts by one side to silence the other.

I am so glad that the AVN has avenues to present information calmly and clearly  so that parents and families can learn more about both sides of vaccinations, instead of the singular one side that we constantly get fed by so called “experts”.

I have been very grateful in the past for huge events like the Conscious Living Expo here in Perth, that advocate freedom of choice and allow Meryl to present her information freely without bowing to the heavy handed censorship or gag attempts by the SAVN and other parties paid for by medical corporations.

I know that you and your organizers must be coming under fire at this time, as these groups pull out all stops to prevent or ruin Meryl’s speech at your event.   This really saddens me.  But i saw them do the same thing here in my home town, when she came for a visit, taking out huge adverts in the papers and trying to blacken her and the AVN in the eyes of the public.  These are really just bullying tactics.     I hope you can stand firm in your decisions to allow her to share the information she has, as I can honestly say it is VERY important information that really must be made available for parents so that they CAN make an informed choice.

I am not necessarily anti-vaccination, but I am PRO choice!  The reasons I am so passionate about us having the choice, is that many years ago, I blindly took my first two daughters for their vaccinations, because I was told by the medical profession this was the right thing to do.   I did not realize I had a choice.   My first daughter had severe reactions but I was told this was “normal”.  Fortunately for her, she had no lasting side effects, though many years later, behind my back, her doctor convinced her to have the Gardisil injection which has left her with ongoing health problems every since.

My second daughter however was not so fortunate.   From the night of her vaccination at four months, she went from a happy, healthy baby, who slept through the night, to a brain damaged distressed child who did not sleep for over two years.   She did not walk till she was four or talk till she was seven.   She is basically autistic with mental age about eight years of age.   At the current age of 24, she has cost, not only her family, but the community/taxpayers a massive amount of money to assist her through schooling and development and therapy.   Hers is not an isolated case.   Can you imagine how many others there are like her out there, or how, in the years ahead, as more and more children receive more and more vaccinations before even school age, there will be a major increase in chronic disease across our population? I cannot begin to tell you what this experience has taught me, but that is minor in comparison with what it has put my daughter through, and what she will have to endure for the rest of her life.

Me?  I now choose.   And I fight for my choice.  You see, I did not vaccinate my third and fourth children.   Because I would rather take my chances with Mother nature.   She neither profits or loses when it comes to my children’s wellbeing.   Pharmaceutical companies are there to make money first, and I don’t believe they even consider the health of our future generations in their drive for profit.   I know that as grim as it sounds, if I had the choice, I would rather one of my children got sick and died from a natural disease, than watch a healthy child receive a vaccination and then get sick or die from that.

So you see, choice is everything.

And I am very grateful that you do not bow to the bullies and let them silence one side of the vaccination debate.

Thank you.   I wish you every success with your festival and hope you all have a wonderful event!



AVN’s participation at Woodford

Good evening everybody

I’m up working late and I’ve noticed that there’s an email from the AVN in my inbox. Meryl is letting her members know that some groups that fear freedom of information are petitioning you to get a couple of segments that they are holding at your Festival cancelled.

My initial thought was not too worry as the folks who run the Woodford Folk Festival would not be the sort of people who would buy into censorship of information. The people who frequent the Festival are certainly not that type of person. I’ve been a number of times. To me the Festival is all about life, people, relationships, music, living with spirit, and the sharing of information.

But I’d thought I’d better send something, just in case. 

I’m  a member of the AVN and find their information factual, balanced, and extremely important. They offer an education on the subject of vaccination so parents are able to make an informed choice. And it’s always the parent’s choice and that is always made clear. But at least they have some impartial information to help them. You won’t find a more balanced representation of the subject of vaccination than the AVN.

What they offer is a perfect fit for the Woodford Folk Festival. The Festival and any sponsors that are associated with it, will benefit from the supporting the AVN in the eyes of anyone who attends.

The fact that there is an organisation who has been setup to specifically harass the AVN should tell you that what the AVN has to say is very close to the mark. It’s important, and you are doing a service to the community by hosting them at your event.

Here’s to a great Festival!



Support for Woodford organisers re Freedom of Communication

To whom it may concern,

I wish to express my support for Woodford Festival organisers and sponsors in allowing the issue of vaccination to be aired as I feel there is a real need in the community for information on both sides of the vaccination issue. When people are made aware of the choices and options available in regard to vaccination they’re able to make informed decisions from an empowered position rather than acting out of fear like I did as a young mum. I’ve been researching health and vaccination for several years and now believe my health and the health of my children has been compromised as a result of receiving childhood vaccinations. I’ve discovered I’m sensitive to heavy metals and my body does not get rid of them very well which increases my susceptibility to adverse reactions from vaccinations. After reading much information and watching DVD’s I recently attended an enlightening talk by Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network about Childhood Vaccination. The information Meryl presented was easy to understand and answered many questions for me such as:

  • Why do vaccinated children contract the very diseases they are vaccinated against?
  • Why don’t vaccinations guarantee immunity like I was lead to believe?
  • Why has the number of vaccines gone from 18 just 23 years ago to over 50 by the time a child starts school including over 23 within the first year of life?
  • What options do I have to immunise my child other than vaccination and what are the immunity rates compared to vaccination?
  • Where do I find a GP who will support me if I choose an alternative way to immunise my child?

I am very grateful to the AVN for working to help parents like me take back the right to free and informed choice by allowing them to see the less publicised side of this important issue before making a decision.

Thank you again for allowing and encouraging freedom of communication at the Woodford FestivalJ

Warm regards,


Bunbury WA 6231

Freedom of thought, Freedom of choice to vaccinate or not

Hello there Woodford family,

I am writing to express my support of Meryl Dorey from the AVN and gratitude that Woodford Folk Festival has her presenting this year. I feel it is a wonderful choice to have her insight and talk at the Woodford Folk Festival on vaccination. It makes me feel good to know that there is places like the Folkie honouring and supporting our freedom of choice as individuals and the different aspects or sides to a story, and in turn allows one to honestly look inside ourself and think outside the circle we are so conditioned to think, feel, act out by society. To always challenge the other side of thought, to whatever degree, is a necessary process in the life venture of self truth and self growth. It allows oneself to come to an honest conclusion for the greater good for themselves and those who are around them.

Living in a world where mass production is prevalent, i feel the importance to challenge these mass practices because we are all individual and therefore have individual needs, and mass practice certainly does not cater for this individuality. I am appalled at the righteous and ignorant stance/attitude of the SAVN and other anti-choice organisations toward AVN and what it stands for as brings suspicion to mind that they have something to hide, and a blatant care-less attitude toward the choice of the individual; and when it comes down to it that means they care-less about “me” and “my” freedom of choice. So i applaud you for believing in “me” and “my” freedom of choice and for choosing the very best life for my children, by having Meryl on behalf of AVN speak about. Because it is not about the political and righteous quest of who is right from the SAVN, it is about our precious children and about the diligent and tough decision as a parent to make the best choice for their life and health. Whoa, it’s a huge decision to make for another being and i don’t know many parents, or if any, that don’t pause to think it over somewhat, to any degree.

I have grown up with the Folkie being apart of my life since it was in Maleny…it has been one of those strong hold practices in my life where I could always go and find peace in allowing my true self to unfold naturally and with loving support of the environment and people around. It gave me insight into the choices of different material & information available. I LOVED that Woodford Folkie has been there for me as a positive example of community and a place for me to express my truth or myself as i know it with others who are open, caring and sharing. For this i thank you!!

I am sure you have some kind of agreeance as you have Meryl speaking at the Festival, I just wanted to say this incase you were thinking that it may not be such a great idea, from the pressures from the SAVN and sponsors. It doesn’t seem right that they think it is their right to make this decision for me. Please keep Meryl on the Festival programme.

Kindest Regards,


Vaccination Choice

Dear Organisers

I am writing in relation to recent blogs on the Mamamia website.  I don’t normally read this website as personally I am not interested in Mia Freedman or anything she has to say, I have seen her from time to time when I have watched commercial television and normally this is when I choose to either change the channel or get myself a cup of tea.

I believe we live in a society where choice is available for all as is the choice to either listen or to walk away, just as I have a choice to change a channel if I don’t want to watch something.  We also have the freedom of choice in this country to vaccinate or not vaccinate.

The main demographic that chooses not to vaccinate are people just like me – tertiary educated often with more than one degree, intelligent career people, older age parents.  All of the people I know, including myself have done extensive research into the pros and cons of vaccination, I have utilised the resources of the AVN – purchased many books on the topic written by doctors, professionals with PHD’s and other such qualifications.  What qualifications does Mia Freedman have in this field?  I have also carried out my own investigations with overseas entities as well.  It is an informed choice I have made not to immunise my children as it is for many others that I know of.  Others that I know that do not immunise have chosen not to because their first child was injured as a result of immunisation so subsequent children have not been immunised.  The media all too often only report one side of a story, I know this from experience during my 20 year career in the legal field.  In relation to the Dana McCaffrey tragedy, although I didn’t watch Mia Freedmans’ interview I did watch the segment on 60 minutes some time ago.  There were a lot of questions that were not asked by the interviewer such as whether the family were immunised against pertussis and when they were immunised, again a one sided media report focussed on frightening the public into immunising.  Interestingly you rarely see a live interview on such topics as it doesn’t enable certain material to end up on the cutting room floor.  This is how the media work, I also know this from experience having worked closely with someone who formerly directed 60 minutes for many years.

Without the AVN and the work Meryl does I believe this country would be without choice.  Recently the government announced that it would penalise parents financially via the parental payment if they didn’t immunise their children.  Only 10% of Australia’s child population are not immunised so really one has to wonder why the government is pushing this so hard for a minority population and what is behind it.  The AVN are in the process of obtaining legal advice as to whether this contravenes our constitution.  The AVN are also lobying government to implement a register of disease outbreaks amongst our population of the people infected and the percentages of these infected people that were immunised.  Other countries have this in place and it is an accurate indicator of whether vaccines are effective or not.  In Australia we would have no idea as no such register is in place.  One has to wonder why our government is not in favour of such a register.

There is so much media hype and advertising in support of vaccination, of course there would be as pharmaceutical companies have plenty of money to support this.

I live Queensland and support Woodford.  I believe it is important for people like Meryl to be able to appear at such public events.  What sort of country are we if we shut down and exclude people from talking about topics that 100% of the population may not necessarily have an opinion on or not believe in.  Everyone is different and entitled to their opinions and beliefs.  We don’t shut down other religions or cultures in Australia, we try to embrace them.  Australia needs to remain a place for freedom of speech and choice.

Thankyou for your time.

Yours sincerely


Brisbane QLD

In support of freedom


I just want to congratulate you on your support for  the right of all of us to have access to different information, so that we can make informed choices, by inviting this controversial speaker on childhood vaccination to present her research at your festival.

For your information on the vaccine debate, there are many medical doctors who do not support the industry-promulgated view – and show good reasons and research for it.

Here is one example:


Yours sincerely,


I support you having AVN spokesperson at Woodford Festival 

Hello Bill, Ingrid and all members of the Organising Committee,

I decided 34 years ago when our first child was born not to vaccinate her because a friend knew a little boy who had recently reacted to a vaccination and was brain damaged.

There was a little information and I found support from alternate health sources, chiropractic, herbalist, naturopath and osteopath.  I took responsibility for good health choices and learned to become aware of how certain foods can assist good health when illness did occur.  I relied on herbs and vitamin supplements as well as the alternate health practioners.

We had three children and they are now starting their own families and want to have the option to follow the same alternate health practices.

They have needed to access the wealth of resources and information available from the AVN to present information to their partners so together they can make informed decisions regarding Immunisations for their children.

Having together reached the decision not to vaccinate, they have now also felt supported not just by the information and resources but also glad to have the AVN as a forum of support from other people who are increasingly questioning the effects of so many vaccinations on newborn babies.

I am so glad you are providing a space in your festival to allow such debate as has been going on within our families over the past 3-4 years.

My kids started to realise the strong immunity they had developed due to alternate health practices and self-knowledge, when their teenage friends would comment “How come you never get sick and have to go to the doctor”?

It wasn’t luck, it was information and good choices.

I support AVN as do my adult kids for several reasons.

One major reason is that AVN is fighting (because they have to) for the rights of families to choose a health option for their children, because like me, they have genuine concerns regarding the safety and effectiveness, OR the number of vaccines being given, OR the option to only have certain vaccines, OR the desire to spread the vaccines over a different time frame.

There is much to debate here.

This is the “INFORMATION AGE” so why is this information not discussed?


Our society like never before has embraced & accepted freedom of choice:-

  • Freedom from discrimination regarding sexual preference and practice.
  • Freedom OF religion and indeed freedom FROM religious dogma.
  • Freedom to protest on any number of environmental issues eg;
  • logging, mining, wood chipping, coal seam gas etc.

Never has there been so much information and medical reports about the effects and damage done to children due to vaccines.

Surely the freeom of choice for parents concerned about their children is just as important.


Choices at Woodford

Hello Bill and Ingrid,

I just wanted to show my support for Meryl Dorey speaking at the Woodford Folk Festival.  As a parent that is trying to make an informed decision about their child’s health, I’ve found it very hard to find enough balanced discussions about the pro’s and con’s of vaccinating.  As a citizen it concerns me that there aren’t enough platforms encouraging healthy debate.  With biased media and powerful vested interests it is in our community gatherings such as your folk festival where we can hope to have freedom to voice and to hear alternative points of view’s.  I hope you will be persuaded by the love that Meryl brings to her work and not the hate of those who cannot stand reason and balance.

With love and full support of your wonderful festival,




My name is MH and it has come to my attention that certain very vindictive parties are waging a war against freedom of choice at Woodford this year.  While Meryl Dorey probably has other things she could be doing in the holidays with her family, she has given up this special time to spend time providing a much needed alternative view on vaccination.

My personal experience with vaccination is that my eldest daughter was vaccine damaged at 3 months.  Just hours after her second injection she was covered with a violent rash this rash has plagued my daughter throughout her childhood and teenage years.  When I went to report this to the doctor, I was told this was just co-incidence….  I know now having spoken to many other parents of vaccine damaged kids that I am not alone.  People need to be given complete information so they can make informed decisions.

I have spent many hours researching the subject of vaccination over many years – in the early days it wasn’t so easy, today the internet provides many reliable sources of documentation on the subject of vaccination.

The Australian Vaccination Network helped me in many ways, providing assistance with information, practitioners and how to go about conscientious objection as we didn’t want the same thing to happen to my second daughter. I also discovered a network of friends who, after 15 years are still my closest friends.

Woodford has been recognised as a outlet for free thinking, and this is an issue that really needs to be given some fair air play

Thanks for giving this a hearing

Best wishes for woodford


Vaccination Choice


It has come to my notice that certain bodies are trying to prevent debate on the vaccination issue by bringing pressure to bear on the organisers and sponsors of the Woodford Folk Festival to cancel talks given by Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network.

I wish to express my deep concern that such bodies can have enough influence to prevent freedom of speech and robust debate on issues that are important to all parents. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with vaccination it is important that the issue is out in the open and the facts are presented to people so that they can make up their minds after considering both sides of the discussion.

I strongly urge the organisers and sponsors of the Woodford Folk Festival  to resist this push to cancel Meryl Dorey’s talks and to uphold what we in Australia cherish as a national right to have freedom of speech and freedom of choice.

Yours faithfully


Concerned Citizen

AVN appearance at festival

Hi there,

I was alarmed to hear that Stop the AVN (SAVN) is once again trying to censure free speech and have started a campaign of cyber bullying via blogs and threats to boycott sponsors of the festival. It is alarming because we live in a country where not everyone agrees on every subject but where, when not in agreement we can debate the issue, get all evidence of the message across and either agree or agree to disagree. In this case once again they think there is no debate and there is only one side of the story which is so alarmingly false that is almost laughable except that it is a deadly serious subject.

I have done years of research on the subject of vaccination and I myself would make them look silly if we debated the subject.  I have come to the conclusion that any sane person who injects known poisons and toxins into children is either evil or totally ignorant. As i’m sure it is mostly ignorance because we have always been known to trust our doctors advice and of course the oh so trustworthy Pharma companies and government who are all out to only help.  I started researching the subject as I was having a child and someone close I know who has an autistic child told me that not only did she KNOW her child started showing signs of autism right after the vaccinations but that her doctor also told her that was the case. Now as i’m sure the doctor won’t go on the record and say that as he will lose his medical license, I also found out she has a friend with 2 out of 3 kids with autism and she says exactly the same thing. So the SAVN can tell me, with their obviously limited knowledge on vaccines, as much as they like that vaccines don’t cause autism but i think i’ll believe all the parents over the doctors any day.

One thing I heard a lot before I had my child was from parents of unvaccinated children who they said were rarely ever sick and rarely go to the doctors. (gee that must hurt the industry if no one is actually going to the doctors because they are actually healthy) And lo and behold my unvaccinated child is rarely sick and has been to the doctors maybe 4 times in her young 2 and half years. (Same thing with my brothers unvaccinated kids by the way). Whilst all around me the vaccinated kids are sick almost every other day and spend more time at the doctors than playing and learning. Oh and also she is said to be 8 months more advanced with her speech and learning capabilities. Coincidence…. oh i’m sure the SAVN will tell you it is, but i’m here to tell you it’s not. This is getting beyond a joke and although it hurts to watch all my friends and others around us vaccinate their children without doing a single hour of research on the subject, just blindly following government protocol, I understand that it is THEIR CHOICE and I feel strongly that we are all capable of making our own decisions based on how we raise our children. And for you to not allow the AVN to show their evidence and get their INFORMED point across would be unfair, unjust and quite frankly evil.

By the way if you or anyone at the SAVN have any doubts that vaccinations are in any way linked to autism maybe you should just watch this clip which is a interview with the head of the CDC at the time Julie Gerberding ADMITTING vaccines can trigger autism.

just copy and paste


Oh and by the way Julie went on after working as the head of the CDC to working at Merck the giant Pharma company. Conflict of interest. The SAVN will say Of course not


Again we all have the right to use information as we want but that shouldn’t stop the evidence from being put forth. As more and more people are waking up to this and who knows, maybe even you could learn a few thing form this information. It certainly wouldn’t hurt. And if you decide that the information is wrong and that it’s fine to pump neurotoxins into your children then that’s fine. I won’t hold it against you as you shouldn’t against me if I decide not to vaccinate. Rhetorical….

Thanks for listening and please let the information by the AVN be spoken.


Woodford Festival

Just want to say thank you for having Meryl Dorey as a speaker and I appreciate how difficult it must be with pressure from some to have her taken off the speaker list.

Free speech and access to medical data always needs to be preserved in a free and civilised society

I have personally known Meryl for over 14 years. She has always been the utmost professional, soley committed to keeping children and adults fully informed about health choices and ensuring medical products are fairly scrutinised. If we supress an individual like this, what does that say about our society? I researched my decision on vaccines for my children from worldwide research, and the AVN was just one of my sources. Every country has a vaccine safety lobby group like the AVN.

I myself have a university degree and a background in writing and research, but many people do not have skills like this, so there is a great need for people like Meryl to bring the current medical data on vaccination and related issues to them. We need other sources of information other than the Health Department or we are not a free society. Thank you for your continued support of Meryl Dorey and free speech.



free speech at Woodford

Dear Sir,

I am writing to express my support for freedom of expression at Woodford.

It has been brought to my attention that a vaccination lobby group has requested that Meryl Dorey be removed from the programme this year.

If this this were to be done, it would be a sad day for democracy in this country. To think that even at Woodford, the interests of multinational drug companies could override the basic right for people to say what they believe in a public forum, would be very troubling indeed.

Regardless of an individual’s stance on any topic, we should always honour the right to open debate. We should constantly strive to maintain respect for the fact that there are two sides to every argument.

I am a parent who has chosen not to vaccinate my children.

Having once been a staunch supporter of vaccination, it has been though 10 years of inquiry and personal experience that I made this decision.

Having studied medical sciences at university, I believe that I have the intellect and understanding required to make sound judgement on the issue.

I believe that we all should have access to information, and be able to make our own choices, based on careful examination of the facts.

People like Meryl Dorey should be applauded for her courage in continuing to bring information to the wider public, so that they can make an informed choice, despite the threats she receives.

I encourage you to support freedom of speech and allow Ms. Dorey to remain on the programme.

Many thanks,


Keeping Meryl at Woodford

Dear Mr Hauritz

I would like to thank you for allowing Meryl Dorey to speak at Woodford, a group of us are very much looking forward to her speech and looking forward to meeting her.  Without Meryl there would be little information regarding vaccination choice and injury.  I have a 5 year old boy who was vaccine injured at 11 months old and has since been diagnosed with autism.  If it wasn’t for the information of the AVN I would not have been aware there were choices and not aware of the massive scope of vaccine related injuries.

My mother and I are long followers of the AVN and we are attending the festival solely to see Meryl.  Thank you for the opportunity.






The HCCC – don’t confuse them with logic #2 – Did the AVN mislead the ABC?

In what must be a very unusual move, the HCCC has tacked a second complaint on to this original case. This complaint was submitted by Toni and David McCaffery, parents of 4-week-old Dana, who died from whooping cough in March of 2009. Even more unusually, I am unable to view the actual complaint and instead, need to try and reply based only upon what the HCCC has chosen to share with me.

It is interesting that this second complaint was received by the HCCC on the 16th of December 2009 – more than 2 months after my original response to McLeod’s complaint which was submitted on the 9th of September, 2009.

I believe that this action taken by the HCCC constitutes a denial of my right to natural justice.

In their complaint, one of the few items which the HCCC chose to share with me was an accusation that both myself and the AVN used misleading statistics to argue against pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination.

I believe this accusation was regarding a complaint that the McCaffery’s filed against me with the ABC after an interview I did with Katya Quigley, from ABC Radio. Interestingly, the McCaffery’s state that they have obtained a copy of this radio program but I have been unable to – either from the ABC itself who have told me that this information is not available nor from Media Monitors who have also told me it is not available. If anyone reading this happens to have a copy of this day’s show they are willing to send me a copy of, I would be really grateful.

Apparently, during this interview, Katya referred to the whooping cough rate in Australia in 2001 when I had specifically indicated that the time period we were discussing was 1991. Please see my original correspondence with Katya’s producer, Janine Fitzpatrick, sent on morning of this program:

From: Meryl Dorey
Date: 4 September 2009 8:49:40 AM AEST
To: fitzpatrick.janine@abc.net.au
Subject: Information on whooping cough incidence / vaccination rates

Dear Janine,

I just wanted you to have this information prior to my interview this morning because I will be referring to it in my talk. As I told Katya (not sure if I’m spelling that properly so apologies if it’s wrong), I want to keep this on a scientific level – and avoid emotional issues and personal accusations.

A summary of the following information is that in 1991, Australia had a whooping cough vaccination rate of 71.6% and 318 cases reported nationwide. Last year (2008), for the first time, our whooping cough vaccination rate was in excess of 95% – the stage at which we have been told the disease will disappear. Instead, we had 14,522 cases last year – the highest on record – and this year is already over 19,000 without any decline in vaccination.

So blaming the unvaccinated for these deaths and for the record outbreak is ignoring the fact that more people are vaccinating then ever before and we have seen an increase in incidence of 40 times sine 1991.

Thanks so much,

The McCaffery’s filed a complaint with the ABC after this program aired. I was unable to see the actual complaint and I didn’t even know about this until my local newspaper, the Northern Star, published an article stating that a local couple, Toni and David McCaffery, had filed this complaint and the ABC had found that the information I had provided to the radio station was misleading and incorrect.

Below is the actual graph that I had provided to the ABC:

I contacted the ABC Corporate Affairs department and corresponded with Denise Musto who assured me that the finding was not against myself but against the presenter, Katya Quigley. Please read her correspondence below:

From: ABC Corporate_Affairs11 <CORPORATE_AFFAIRS11.ABC@abc.net.au>
Date: 5 February 2010 4:26:39 PM AEDT
To: “‘meryl@avn.org.au'” <meryl@avn.org.au>
Subject: RE: ABC Investigation of vaccination information

Dear Ms Dorey

I refer to your emails of 28 and 29 January to ABC presenter Katya Quigley. In line with ABC complaints procedures, your correspondence has been forwarded to Audience and Consumer Affairs.

As previously advised in a number of my emails to you, the findings of the Audience and Consumer Affairs review did not relate to your contribution to the program or to how the AVN presents statistics. Consistent with ABC complaints procedures, our review related to whether the statements about the statistics made by an ABC presenter complied with the ABC’s editorial standards for accuracy in factual content. Our finding was that the ABC presenter’s statement did not meet the standard, which requires that “Every reasonable effort must be made to ensure that factual content is accurate and in context”.

In respect to your question as to the confidentiality of our findings, please note that general summaries of all upheld complaints are publicly reported on the ABC’s website, consistent with our accountability and transparency requirements. As previously advised, this investigation is reported at:


In addition, following investigation of a complaint about a broadcast or story, Audience and Consumer Affairs respond to the complainant substantively. Whilst this response is not made available publicly by the ABC, as you will no doubt appreciate, we have no control over how a complainant may choose to make such information available to other parties.

Yours comments in respect to this matter have been noted. However, as previously advised, we are satisfied that the finding of our investigation was appropriate and in keeping with the requirements of the ABC’s Code of Practice and Editorial Policies. We would ask that you cease contacting ABC staff members directly in respect to this investigation, which has been finalised. There are no options for review available to you, and we will not engage in any further correspondence on this matter. If you would like to raise concerns in respect to other matters, these are best submitted using our online form at:http://www.abc.net.au/contact/contactabc.htm.

Yours sincerely Denise Musto Audience & Consumer Affairs

Despite knowing this, the McCaffery’s continue to this day to accuse me of providing incorrect information to the ABC – a statement which they should have been informed is not correct since they were sent a copy of the ABC’s findings in this case.

Below is a review of the information I had provided to the ABC by Dr Gary Goldman, a peer-reviewer for such journals as the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Vaccine, The American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC), Expert Review of Vaccines (ERV) and Expert Review of Dermatology (ERD). He serves on the Editorial Board of Research and Reviews in Bioscience. He has worked under contract for the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, in an epidemiological study project funded by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, Atlanta, GA). :

The authors of this assessment [the ABC’s assessment of the statistics presented to Katya Quigley) state, “the two statistics are drawn from different data sets and relate to different groups of children.”

First, the data sets both present percent of children fully immunized against Pertussis. The fact that both tables represent different age groups is actually appropriate in this case because in 1989-1990 (the true figure referred to in the discussion) children aged 0 to 6 years received pertussis vaccination according to a vaccination schedule that differed from that of 2008; whereby, pertussis vaccination occurred in children by the time they were 2 years old.

The tables indicate an increase in the percentage of children receiving pertussis vaccination, from 71% in 1989-1990 to 95.1% in 2008. The children’s ages are by necessity, and are appropriately, different due to vaccination schedule differences associated with each of these two different dates. Therefore, it is without basis that the authors state, “the comparative manner in which they were presented was misleading.”

Conversely, had children of the same age been represented in both tables, say children immunized at 2 years old, by 1989-1990, the percentage of children fully vaccinated for pertussis would have been negligible (approaching 0%) since the vaccination schedule had changed toward providing pertussis vaccine to children up through age six. Therefore, the comparative manner in which Meryl Dorey presented the data actually took into account the differences in the vaccination schedule and reported the relationship of the change in percentage as accurately as permitted by the table data.

Gary S. Goldman,
Ph.D. Editor-in-Chief,
Medical Veritas

As you can see, I was not guilty of using misleading statistics and the McCafferys – having been provided with the final outcome by the ABC – may, in fact, be the ones using misleading information. To this day, they continue to claim on radio, in writing and on their various internet pages, that I have provided misleading information to the ABC when they should know that this is not the case – it was the ABC interviewer, Katya Quigley, who made an error on air and the ABC found against her – not against myself or my information.

The HCCC was provided with this information on two occasions and yet, they never corrected their misleading and incorrect conclusion that I had provided incorrect information to the ABC.

Tomorrow: The AVN has a website and a Facebook page that give the impression of presenting information about vaccination but does not include information that is pro-vaccination.

The HCCC – don’t confuse them with logic #1 – Health Education

Many of our members have asked me to analyse what the HCCC findings against the AVN were all about. I have gathered together almost all of the correspondence between both Ken McLeod and the HCCC into one location on Scribd which you can access by clicking here, but since this is composed of hundreds of pages of information, I have decided to try and summarise (summarisation is NOT my strong point as many of you would know :-)) the basic points and how it is possible that, though complete, referenced and logical answers were provided to the HCCC, they chose to ignore this information.

Please keep in mind that the entire ‘investigation’ of the AVN took place on our website and in particular, in one page of our website – the page that lists Ten Reasons Why Parents Question Vaccination. Despite the fact that our organisation publishes a magazine, a newsletter books, information packs and writes articles for other publications; despite the fact that we have provided telephone support and hands-on support to parents for 17 years; and despite the fact that we have lobbied both State and Federal governments in regards to these issues, the HCCC neither visited our office (though they were invited to several times) nor did they interview either myself or anyone else involved with our organisation before reaching their conclusions. This bears all the hallmarks of a kangaroo court of the first order.

Because of the number of points covered and the length of the information, this explanation will, of necessity, extend over several days and most likely, several weeks. I will title each section in the same way and just number them so you can go back to any that you are interested in reading again. Please feel free to forward links to these pages to friends and family who also have questions about the AVN’s stance on this issue and our refusal to abide by the demands of this organisation which, at the end of the day, has neither the jurisdiction or the power to make demands of the AVN.

Does the AVN provide a ‘health education’ service?

In order to investigate our organisation, the HCCC needed to prove they had jurisdiction over us as described by the Health Care Complaints Act which they were formed to uphold. This Act limits their jurisdiction to healthcare providers (described as those whose activities affect the care and treatment of an individual person – and obviously the AVN does not fall into this category though originally, the HCCC had tried to put us into this category.) or health educators which has a definition that clearly does not apply to the activities the AVN carries out. Two barristers and two solicitors have composed letters which were sent to the HCCC questioning their jurisdiction. They have either ignored this advice and these questions or, in their final response after making their decision, they simply stated that they disagree with our reading of the Act.

In their final request for information which we responded to in July of this year, the HCCC stated several indicators they had used to prove that the AVN is, indeed, a health educator. I hope you will agree with me that their ‘logic’ is ridiculous in the extreme and only a government body that must ‘support government policy which is pro-vaccination’ would ever use such reasoning.

The Commission examined the AVN website in detail and noted that the provision of ‘health education’ was evident in the following pages on the website:

1- A ‘news’ page, that summarises and provides links to a number of recent media stories and articles about the risks of vaccination.

My answer to this statement, that the AVN can be considered as a health education service or health educator was that:

I am perplexed at this statement. If I am reading what the HCCC has said correctly, the provision of pages on a website that summarise news articles and give links to media stories constitutes health education.

Toni and David McCaffery started a Facebook site in memory of their daughter, Dana. This page, in its discussion area, gives multiple links to news articles and media stories about the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations. Does this mean that the McCafferys are health educators as well?

Peter Bowditch from the Australian Skeptics, has several websites, one of which is dedicated exclusively to vaccination. On this site, not only does Bowditch link to many media stories and articles about vaccination, but he specifically gives medical advice to all who come to view his page. His advice is that everyone MUST vaccinate in no uncertain terms and his lack of information on either the necessity of vaccination for every person and his refusal to inform about any potential side effects is in opposition to the NH&MRC’s rules governing the responsibility to allow for fully informed choice regarding this issue.

Australia’s broadcaster, the ABC, has an extensive website on health. This site maintains numerous links to articles and media stories about vaccination. In fact, an entire page is devoted to the subject of vaccination which you can find here – http://www.abc.net.au/health/tag/vaccines-and-immunity/

Are the ABC, Peter Bowditch and Toni and David McCaffery also health education service providers? If this is the basis for the HCCC’s decision, I believe there would be few who enter public life in any small way who would not fall under the jurisdiction of the HCCC as a result.

Further, if the HCCC believes that linking to vaccination stories in the public media is tantamount to a breach of either statute, common law or statutory regulations in Australia, we would like to ask if it intends in the future to pursue the writers of these stories or to censure journalists who could also be termed as health educators under the Act. Or does it intend to force every web site based in Australia to quote balancing, contrary views – including the websites of government health departments and the medical community?

The HCCC then goes further to state that another indication of our status as a health education service or health educator is that the AVN maintains:

2- A ‘weblog’ page, containing a series of discussions about articles and publications on the risk of vaccination.

My response to this absurdity is that:

Technorati lists 11,113 blogs which are exclusively about health. With the single exception of a blog post by American TV medico, Dr Sanjay Gupta, not one of the 50 top posts on vaccination was blogged by a medical professional. Should all of these people who were passing on information – both for and against vaccines – be considered health education providers under the Act according to the HCCC? If they were in Australia, would they be governed by these same regulations due to the fact that they have published ‘weblog’ pages that contain a series of discussions about articles and publications on either the risks or the safety of vaccination? If so, where does the HCCC propose to draw the line? Do all Australians who mention vaccination in a public forum come under your jurisdiction?

These two points formed the extent of the HCCC’s ‘proof’ that the AVN is either a health education service or a health educator. I hope you will agree that with evidence like this, if we were in a court of law rather than involved with a commission whose stated goal is to uphold the government’s pro vaccination policy, the case would have been thrown out for lack of evidence.


Did the AVN mislead the ABC?

AVN Response to Sydney Morning Herald Article – 27/7/10

I guess I should not be surprised when the media gets something wrong. It’s just that when they get SO MANY things wrong in one article, it’s difficult not to read that as anything but intentional bias and deliberate misstatements.

Below is a critique of the article that appeared in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, written by Kate Benson, entitled , Vaccine activists labelled a threat.

WHEN their four-week-old baby daughter Dana died from whooping cough Toni and David McCaffery sought love and healing to ease their grief.

Instead, they say they were subjected to a campaign of harassment and abuse at the hands of anti-vaccination campaigners, a group who were yesterday labelled a serious threat to the public’s health and safety.

In July 2009, the HCCC forwarded a complaint that had been made by Ken McLeod, one of the members of the hate group, Stop the AVN. We gave a full and complete response to this complaint in September, 2009. The McCaffery’s filed their own complaint against the AVN in December, 2009 and we were not informed of this until their names were added on to the original complaint in February, 2010.

Despite the fact that accusations like the ones above and below were made against both myself and the AVN by the McCaffery’s, the HCCC would not allow me to see these accusations. Instead, I was expected to respond to the complaint without having access to it. Anyone can see that this is a denial of the AVN’s and my right to natural justice.

As for this supposed campaign of harassment, neither I nor anyone else on our committee has ever contacted the McCaffery’s by any means whatsoever – emails, telephone, letter or in person. So this supposed harassment by AVN members is an unsubstantiated claim which, despite requesting further information from the HCCC on this issue, has never been verified by either the McCaffery’s or any other officials involved in this investitation.

I can easily say that Julia Gillard calls me up every Saturday night at 9 PM to have a yarn about the kids, but this would be a lie. Likewise, unless proof is provided by the McCaffery’s that I or any other AVN member has harassed them, this claim is simply untrue.

For instance, the McCaffery’s have regularly said that I have been found to have provided incorrect and misleading information to the ABC radio after an interview last year. They say this despite the fact  that they KNOW that it was, in fact, the ABC presenter who was found to have given incorrect information and not me. Please read the following correspondence:

From: ABC Corporate_Affairs11 <CORPORATE_AFFAIRS11.ABC@abc.net.au>
Date: 5 February 2010 4:26:39 PM AEDT
To: “‘meryl@avn.org.au'” <meryl@avn.org.au>
Subject: RE: ABC Investigation of vaccination information

Dear Ms Dorey

I refer to your emails of 28 and 29 January to ABC presenter Katya Quigley. In line with ABC complaints procedures, your correspondence has been forwarded to Audience and Consumer Affairs.

As previously advised in a number of my emails to you, the findings of the Audience and Consumer Affairs review did not relate to your contribution to the program or to how the AVN presents statistics. Consistent with ABC complaints procedures, our review related to whether the statements about the statistics made by an ABC presenter complied with the ABC’s editorial standards for accuracy in factual content. Our finding was that the ABC presenter’s statement did not meet the standard, which requires that “Every reasonable effort must be made to ensure that factual content is accurate and in context”.

In addition, the Herald journalist’s use of the words “serious threat to the public’s health and safety” is something that was made up by the journalist. These words do not appear anywhere in the HCCC announcement and one has to wonder who is in fact running the Sydney Morning Herald when they can make such obviously slanderous comments without any proof or reason?

The Health Care Complaints Commission issued a public warning against the Australian Vaccination Network after it refused to display a disclaimer on its website to inform readers its information should not be taken as medical advice.

For many years, the AVN has had a disclaimer on its website. The HCCC was informed of this back in September 2009, yet like so much of the information provided to this organisation by the AVN, they either chose to ignore it or were incapable of understanding it.

Our disclaimer states that, “If medical advice is required the services of a competent professional should be sought.”

What the AVN objects to and has objected to since the beginning of this process over a year ago is the following:

  1. The HCCC has no jurisdiction to investigate the AVN. Both our lawyers and our barrister have pointed this out to this government body several times with references to the Act under which the HCCC was formed. Despite this, the HCCC has refused to address our concerns over lack of jurisdiction in any meaningful way, simply stating that they disagree with our reading of the relevant legislation. If the HCCC has jurisdiction over the AVN and myself, then there would be very few members of either the media or the general public who would not likewise be considered – from time to time – to be  ‘health educators’ under the HCC Act – including the complainants, Ken McLeod and Toni and David McCaffery – all three of whom are self-proclaimed activists for mass vaccination.
  2. Requiring a vaccine safety and health watchdog group such as the AVN to use specific wording on their website or in print or at any time  at all makes a mockery of the right to freedom of communication as upheld by the High Court of Australia and by convention in this great democracy we live in. The laws of Australia do not allow censorship of websites unless the content is deemed to incite violence against others or to include racial vilification or child pornography. The AVN website does none of these things and therefore, the HCCC is acting outside the law and is discriminating against not only our organisation, but the thousands of parents across Australia whose children have been killed or injured by vaccines.

Earlier this month the commission investigated the network, run out of Bangalow on the north coast by Meryl Dorey, and found its website presented incorrect and misleading information that was solely anti-vaccination and quoted selectively from research suggesting that vaccination may be dangerous.

The HCCC’s ‘investigation’ consisted of a review of our website and in particular – one single page of our website which currently contains hundreds of pages of information including links to the manufacturer’s package inserts for all currently licensed vaccines – information which should be freely available to all but which the health department chooses to exclude.

In addition, I would like to use the following quote from my last response to the HCCC (all correspondence between the AVN and the HCCC can be accessed by clicking here)

“In the most general of terms, I Meryl Dorey will define my identity for the purposes of this response. I consider myself to be a health activist struggling against environmental causes of ill health. I would consider these struggles to be political in nature and any attempt to censor me or the AVN would be seen as an attempt to censor my political views.

“In my opinion, the whole of the ‘investigation’ findings from the HCCC, are a crude attempt to stifle contrary political opinions about public health that emanate, in this circumstance from those who consider that vaccinations can have no adverse reactions and that groups who raise questions about their safety and effectiveness must be censored to support government policy.

“This opinion is based upon my dealings with the HCCC and the apparent bias which was most evident in the statement made to me by your investigator, Leanne Evans on the 26th of May, 2010.

“When questioned about how either the AVN or myself could get a fair hearing from the HCCC when the Commission seemed to ignore so much of the referenced information I had provided in previous responses, Ms Evans stated that, “The HCCC is a government department and as such, we can’t go against government policy which is pro-vaccination.”

Our organisation has been running for 17 years. In that time, we have distributed information packs, magazines, newsletters and flyers. Our website contains a very tiny portion of the information we have published and yet, our website was the only thing the HCCC ‘investigated’ and that investigation concentrated on one single page.

The HCCC requested references to the information on this page – references which the AVN provided. These references were ignored by the investigation with the same questions being asked over and over again until the HCCC made their decision to state that our information is misleading. It is the feeling of the AVN that the bias shown by the HCCC since the beginning of this process required that regardless of the evidence we were able to provide them with, the conclusion was predetermined. The HCCC was required to uphold government policy on this issue which is pro-vaccination and anti-informed choice.

His group now wants the state government to apply for a court injunction against the network and have it closed down. The group’s website says Ms Dorey believes ‘‘vaccines are part of a global conspiracy to implant mind control chips into every man, woman and child and that the ‘illuminati’ plan a mass cull of humans’’.

Evidence yet again that the Sydney Morning Herald is either intentionally ignoring all of the rules of investigative journalism or else, they don’t understand how to do research.

Mr McLeod and the others associated with his hate group have continually stated that I believe these outrageous and ridiculous statements. The reason they make this statement is because last year, I posted an article about the Swine Flu vaccine that was printed in the Pakistan Daily to my blog. According to them (and the page is no longer up so it is impossible for me to check the proof of this statement), there was a link to a website owned by a David Icke who believes the statements Mr McLeod attributes to me.

Mr McLeod’s contention is that since I posted the article, I am personally responsible for and supportive of not only every word in the article, but every link including sponsored links that appear on the page.

As anyone who has ever used the internet would be aware, this is a fallacious assumption. Pages often have links to other websites that are not under the control of the page owner. If you have Google ads or any other sponsored links, you will almost always see links on your own page that you do not approve of. It does not mean that you support or agree with those links and for Mr McLeod to make these outrageous claims or the Sydney Morning Herald to print them is slanderous at best – deceitful at worst.

Ms Dorey did not return calls yesterday but issued a statement on her website which said the HCCC’s recommendation was ‘‘laughable’’ and she was seeking legal advice.

It is true that the Herald called yesterday but I was out of the office and did not return until too late to respond.

Next, to put things into context, the word “laughable” referred to in the quote above is the only word the reporter actually got right in her entire article. This comes from a press release that the AVN issued yesterday. If the reporter was privy to the information in that press release, one has to wonder why only one word was used – and that out of context with the actual release?

For the edification of those who care about the truth, here is the paragraph that was quoted:

“The HCCC states that our information is misleading because we do not include data on the benefits of vaccination,” says Meryl Dorey, Media Spokesperson for the AVN. “Yet this is a laughable assertion when you consider that nobody would expect nuclear safety advocates to issue statements on the benefits of nuclear power; Greenpeace to make films on the pleasures of killing and eating whales; or those who argue against fluoridation of the water supply to write reports about the benefits of mass medication without individual consent.

“Why then should we be expected to make statements we don’t believe are factual and that are not supported by the medical literature? If the AVN is expected to show both sides of this issue, why aren’t the medical community and the government likewise cited for their lack of disclosure on the risks and ineffectiveness of vaccines?”

I’m sure that any thinking person – though not necessarily any journalist – would realise that the use of the word laughable in this case, was intended to reflect the fact that the HCCC’s investigation was incomplete, biased and of grave concern to anyone who believes that Australians have the right to access all available information about any medical procedures before making a choice,