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.