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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

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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.

Patient Committed Suicide After His Doctor Was Hounded By Dr Ben Goldacre’s Badscience Forum Internet Bullies – Perpetrator’s Mild Two Year Cautionary Sentence Only Just Ended December 2013 | ________________Child Health Safety_________________

iStock_000017403892XSmallStop-the-AVN-type cyberbullying causes an ill man to commit suicide. Perpetrators given a 2-year caution.

These deaths and this misery will not stop until the authorities and the government take these criminals seriously. Bullying should not be tolerated! It doesn’t matter if you disagree with our science – you have no right to treat human beings this way. If you agree, please say so in the comments section.

Patient Committed Suicide After His Doctor Was Hounded By Dr Ben Goldacre’s Badscience Forum Internet Bullies – Perpetrator’s Mild Two Year Cautionary Sentence Only Just Ended December 2013 | ________________Child Health Safety_________________.

Silencing the opposition

iStock_000011256677XSmallThis last week has been a time of tough decisions. A time when I had to make a choice between pursuing justice in the courts or cutting my losses and pulling out of what I saw as a totally biased system where the cards are stacked against me – not because of a lack of evidence but simply because of a perceived bias against my stance on a political and scientific issue.

I chose to withdraw my Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) appeal against Peter Bowditch and, true to form, the skeptics and SAVN have been making false statements about my reason for doing so to members of the media – statements which I believe require a response.

Let me preface this by saying that these cases were initiated by me personally. They are not AVN matters, though I believe it is my involvement with the AVN which has influenced the courts against me, causing them to be decided on the personal preconceived opinions of the magistrates involved, rather than on the merits and the evidence presented.

A bit of history

Last year, at the suggestion of police in two NSW jurisdictions, I filed three separate APVOs: against Daniel Raffaele, founder of Stop the AVN (SAVN), Peter Bowditch, committee member of the Australian Skeptics and Dan Buzzard, WA member of SAVN.

I could have filed APVOs against many more SAVN members. So many have threatened and harassed me, as well as inciting others to do me harm, but these were the three whom I considered to be the ‘ringleaders’ – whose abuse and harassment were unremitting. My reasons for taking this action were two-fold

1-    To stop them from continuing their criminal campaign of abuse, harassment and threats against me; and

2-    To send a warning to others that the justice system would protect someone who was being openly abused, harassed and threatened.

My family and I were living in great fear that one of these individuals would either harm us or would incite someone else in the community to do so. I had no funds for legal advice but I was told by the police that applying for an APVO would be straightforward and simple, so I proceeded to make the application. At no time did they inform me that they themselves could have applied for the APVO. Had they done so, I would have insisted that they do it and a whole lot of time, heartache and expense could have been saved.

Simple and Straightforward

At the time I first applied, I had no idea that the ensuing process would be incredibly slow, outrageously expensive to me – the victim of this abuse – and a total waste of time.

I admit I have become jaded over the years regarding the expectation of fair treatment from our bureaucracy. However I still believed it was possible to get justice from the courts, and that magistrates would pass judgment without allowing their personal preconceived biases to interfere. I was a babe in the woods in that regard.

It is my firmly held belief, based on the evidence from both cases that actually went to trial, that my losses had nothing to do with the evidence presented to the courts. Based on that evidence alone – APVOs should have been granted without question. But both magistrates showed a strong disapproval for the work that I have done for the last 20 years with the AVN and I feel that they were unable to separate Meryl Dorey the mother, woman and victim of institutionalised and long-running abuse, from Meryl Dorey, ex-President of the AVN and vaccine rights advocate.

Just a clarifying note at this point for those who are unaware of my case against Daniel Raffaele: the APVO against him was granted without his making any admissions of wrongdoing even though threatening calls to my home were made from his house in the middle of the night. I was advised to accept these terms rather than going to trial. In retrospect, I think I made the right choice since even with the damning evidence against him, I am unsure that the courts would have granted my application had Raffaele opposed it.

SAVN Untruths and a complicit media

To make matters worse, however, SAVN and the Australian Skeptics are now using my withdrawal from the case against Peter Bowditch as an admission that I only took these actions in order to silence my critics.

Their excuse for saying this is based on a lie and they know it is based on a lie yet they continue to state it anyway.

When I went to the courthouse last year to make the initial applications, I selected several of the standard orders from the list available (orders which limited the perpetrator’s ability to come near me or enter my property or threaten me). I also asked that they not be allowed to mention me in any online forum in a derogatory manner. At the initial mention in Ballina Courthouse almost a year ago, the magistrate said that he did not have the power to grant the latter order and I agreed to withdraw it. All I was asking the court to do was to prevent them from coming near me or physically threatening me. None of that would in any way ‘silence’ them.

Having since spoken with a solicitor about this, I have been told that there was no problem with my asking for these latter orders because my intention was to stop them from inciting others to commit violence against me or to join in harassing, abusing or stalking me as they and their cohorts had done for some time. My wording was the only issue and this became a moot point since that order was removed before either hearing.

Dan Buzzard and Peter Bowditch are perfectly aware that this is the case – but they have continued to mislead the media – and the media have continued to print whatever they are told about me – stating that I only took out these APVOs in order to silence my opposition.

In fact, during the time when these cases were still before the courts, sub judice reports were appearing in the media to the effect that taking away my opposition’s right to free speech was the only reason I made these applications.

In addition to this and in a move that can only be called bizarre, Greens Senator Richard Di Natale stood up in Federal Parliament and stated that these applications were only being made to silence my opposition and he thanked two of the three perpetrators by name for their ‘work’ in this regard!

Decisions based on fact or bias

It is my belief that the magistrate in my case against Dan Buzzard may have used this misinformation in his decision since he did refer to media reports when making his summation. In fact, he criticised me openly many times during the hearing to the point where I was relieved to only have to pay $11,000 in court costs – at one point, I had the distinct impression that I was going to be sent to gaol. I do not remember him sanctioning Dan Buzzard even once despite his admissions to having asked people to send me violent pornography.

I am currently awaiting delivery of the transcripts from these cases and when I have received them, I will be updating everyone with exactly what occurred and why I feel that there were grave errors not only in law but also in fact which led to these adverse decisions.

Freedom of speech

If by silencing my opposition, SAVN and the Australian Skeptics mean that I wanted to stop them threatening, harassing and stalking me as they have done for so long and prevent them from inciting others to do the same, then I admit that’s what I was trying to do.

If however, they mean that I want to take away their freedom of speech – their ability to engage in respectful and non-threatening debate on this or any other issue, I’m afraid they are completely wrong.

Because I welcome that debate. I have asked for it publicly – over and over again. I support freedom of speech 100% and in fact, have been lobbying to have an Australian Bill of Rights introduced to codify this right and the right to other freedoms which most democratic nations take for granted but which, shamefully, do not exist in Australia.

This is not a matter for question – it is and has been my stance in public and in private for 20 years now.

It is SAVN and their members – including Daniel Raffaele, Dan Buzzard and Peter Bowditch, who are the ones trying to silence their opposition. And they do it over and over again.

  1. In the initial complaint to the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), SAVN member Ken McLeod asked that the HCCC issue a Prohibition Order against me using their powers under the Health Care Complaints Act 1993. He asked that this order be used to stop both myself and the AVN from publicly discussing the issues surrounding vaccination.
  2. The purpose and reason why Stop the AVN exists is to silence the AVN, our members and anyone who openly asks scientific and legitimate questions about this medical procedure. It is their goal to take away our freedom of speech and to remove our inalienable rights to both question and make informed choices on this subject.
  3. SAVN Supporter and head of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Steve Hambleton, stood on the steps of NSW Parliament not long ago stating that any individual or group who criticises vaccination should be subject to punishment.
  4. Greens Senator, SAVN supporter and doctor Richard di Natale proposed and passed a motion in Federal Parliament stating that the AVN should be disbanded simply because he disagreed with our viewpoint on the issue of vaccination.
  5. SAVN members, including Dan Buzzard, Daniel Raffaele and Peter Bowditch have written to venues where I was booked to present seminars, requesting that they stop me from speaking there. They have also contacted media outlets asking them not to interview me, and filed complaints against those who have allowed me the right to comment on vaccine-related issues.

These people are truly guilty of using bureaucracy and the media to silence their opposition.

All I asked was that the courts protect me from these abusers who had openly threatened and harassed me. This is a protection that should be available to all Australian citizens and residents – indeed – to everyone in every country around the world. It is a basic human right which, thanks to what I consider to be the bias of the courts, was denied me in these cases.

Please note: I have sent a copy of this blog post to Jane Hansen of the Daily Telegraph and the Murdoch media. She had contacted me because she plans on writing a story for Sunday’s paper about my APVO applications. I hope that, having set the record straight, her article will cover this issue fairly and truthfully.

A Grave Injustice has been done – A Request for help from Meryl Dorey

I grew up believing in the rule of law; knowing that might did not make right and that justice would always go to those who deserved it while those who did the wrong thing would be punished for their misdeeds.

Unfortunately, my experience with The Australian Skeptics and Stop the AVN over the last few years has shown me that the opposite is actually true – those who harm, threaten and abuse others will always prevail – at least if the abusers are supporting an entrenched status quo that is funded by billions of dollars in pharmaceutical profits.

Meryl Head ShotMy name is Meryl Dorey. I am the mother of 4 children – one of whom was seriously injured by vaccines in 1989 and again in 1990. In 1994, I founded and until recently, was the President of the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN). Our group is dedicated to the idea that saying yes or no to any medical procedure must always remain a matter of free and informed choice. We believe that medical research must be independent of pharmaceutical influence and that the government and the medical community have an absolute duty of care to provide unbiased information and then, to allow us to make the final decision for our families. These views have seen us facing constant attacks from within the government and industry front-groups.

A Long History of Threats, Harassment and Abusive Behaviour

In the year 2009, an organisation was set up by the Australian Skeptics called Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN). SAVN’s sole reason for being is to stop our organisation from operating in any way they can. They targeted our members, our supporters and anyone who stated that they believe in informed choice. But most of all, they targeted me.

For over four years now, I have been the victim of death threats, daily harassment and abusive messages. I have been sent violent snuff pornography both online and – even worse – to my home. Dr Brian Martin of Whistleblower’s Australia has written about these attacks (see foot note), and stated that in his 35 years of experience, they are the worst he has seen against any small community group.

Extremely threatening phone calls were made in the middle of the night to my home from the home phone number of Daniel Raffaele, the founder of SAVN. This person had publicly stated that “If the demise of the AVN brings with it the demise of Meryl Dorey herself, she only has herself to blame for that.” Despite all the evidence, the police declined to charge him.

Another SAVN member, Dan Buzzard, has publicly advertised the AVN’s address on his Twitter account and asked people to send violent pornographic images through the post. Shortly thereafter, I did receive violent pornography. In addition, this person participates in a hacker’s forum and posted an intimidating letter to me which he claims he found on that forum. He even uploaded a photo of the letter to his blog along with a picture of an envelope addressed to me. A short time later, I received a frightening email from a person who was also a hacker and had corresponded with Mr Buzzard, telling me that he was ‘sharpening the knives’ for me.

As a result of this and at the suggestion of the police, I filed an AVO (Apprehended Violence Order) against this SAVN member in the local court. The application took a long time to be heard, but on August 22nd, I finally had my day in court.

Court Orders Me To Pay Costs

From the beginning, it appeared to me that the magistrate might have already made his decision before we entered the court. The first thing he said to my barrister was that the loser would have to pay costs. It is my understanding that this is not the normal procedure.

The rest of the hearing was no better and though I was able to show that this person had indeed asked people to send me pornography and had posted intimidating mail to me, the magistrate found against me.

It was hard enough to lose the protection of the courts – a protection I have had for the last 10 months via an interim AVO, during which time the defendant had been far more circumspect in his activities. But against all convention in these matters, the judge awarded full costs – over $11,000 – against me, leaving me to pay the legal fees of the person who, I feel, had abused and harassed me.

That legal bill will need to be paid before the 21st of September. As a full-time volunteer for over 20 years, I have virtually no income nor do I have any way to raise these funds. For 20 years, through my involvement with the AVN, I have worked tirelessly to support and inform those who came to me for help. Our organisation was responsible for the introduction of the Conscientious Objection clause which allows families who don’t vaccinate or who vaccinate selectively to access all government entitlements.

Now, it is my turn to ask for your assistance. If you believe in justice, support informed choice and are able to give any amount – no matter how small – to my legal fund to help pay the costs the court has required me to pay, I would be very grateful indeed.

If you would like more information about any of this, please write to me at tuppermama@gmail.com. Otherwise, donations can be made by PayPal  by sending funds to (tuppermama@gmail.com) or by direct deposit to my Westpac account:

Meryl Dorey
BSB – 732591
Account – 613872

Or send a cheque or money order to Meryl Dorey, PO Box 88, BANGALOW NSW 2479.

Be sure to send me an email or a note if you make a donation at the bank so I can acknowledge and thank you. I will be able to acknowledge paypal payments without a separate email.

foot note

(1) Debating Vaccination

(2) Online onslaught: Internet-based methods for attacking and defending citizens’ organisations

(3) Public mobbing: a phenomenon and its features

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.

Daniel Raffaele, Founder of the Hate Group SAVN, Doesn’t want you to know this

On Tuesday, July 9th, I uploaded a post to the AVN’s Facebook Page regarding a statement the AVN’s President, Mr Greg Beattie, had made on the programme Today Tonight that evening. Part of Greg’s statement which concerned threatening phone calls from the home of SAVN’s founder to myself was censored despite assurances from the show that there would be no editing. I will paste the expanded version of the Facebook text below for you to read in its entirety in addition to a link to the programme itself.

Sometime on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning , Facebook removed the post below due to its being reported by members of Stop the AVN including Mr Daniel Raffaele. The message was reposted by one of our page administrators (since I was unaware of its removal until late last night) and was immediately removed again! Apparently, SAVN members strongly support freedom of speech – as long as it’s their right to abuse others they are protecting.

I, Meryl Dorey, currently have an apprehended violence order (AVO) against the founder of Stop the AVN (SAVN), Mr Daniel Raffaele, because 6 phone calls were made from his home to mine in August last years between approximately 2:30 AM and 3:30 AM. The NSW police positively confirmed that the calls originated from his house and the AVO was taken out at their suggestion. Despite this and despite the then 3-year history of almost daily abuse from this man, the police declined to charge him with a crime. Even though he did not admit to making these 6 calls, two of which consisted of threats against myself (Die in a Fire, and Just burn), it is my personal belief that Mr Raffaele was the perpetrator in this case. He had both the motive – his often professed overwhelming hatred of me – and the opportunity (he lives with his mother in the house where the calls originated from and has not offered any alternative explanation as to who else would have been there in the middle of the night using his phone to call me) and it would stretch credulity past breaking, in my opinion, to think that these calls came from any person other than Daniel Raffaele.

Today Tonight – 9 July, 2013

Greg-TT

On the 9th of July, 2013, Today, Tonight interviewed Mr Greg Beattie, President of the AVN and Senator Richard Di Natale, health spokesman for the Australian Greens. Two weeks ago, Senator Di Natale put forward a resolution in the Federal Senate to demand that the AVN be disbanded.

Today, Tonight offered Senator Di Natale and Mr Beattie an opportunity to make a statement on this issue. They were told that they would each have exactly 60 seconds and that there would be absolutely no editing of their words. Unfortunately, Greg’s statement was edited. The following line was cut from the final recording (click the image above to view the entire show) – you can see the cut during Greg’s talk when the screen suddenly gets much brighter.

”The calls were recorded, and traced by the police. Di Natale named and thanked the man who made the calls, and criticised our founder for taking out an AVO. Work that out!”

“This concerned the fact that Senator Di Natale congratulated Daniel Raffaele for his ‘work’ in trying to force our group to close, and crticised the use of the Apprehended Violence Order. The Senator was either unaware of or unconcerned about the threatening and abusive calls to the AVN’s Public Officer, Meryl Dorey. These calls were traced by the police and confirmed to have originated from Raffaele’s home.”

Do we really want someone in Parliament who shakes hands with abusers and attacks their victims?

Everything Di Natale said about the AVN and those who represent our organisation was untrue. His association with a hate group should be a grave concern to anyone who cares about human rights and freedom of speech.

If you haven’t already done so, please write a letter to Senator Christine Milne, Leader of the Australian Greens, to ask her whether her party really does support silencing and abusing a volunteer-run parent’s support group? If you would like to read some of the letters which have already been sent, you can view them on our blog here.

Letters from AVN members to the Greens

Senator Richard Di Natale - wants to force the AVN to disband in order to silence debate on the issue of vaccination.
Senator Richard Di Natale – wants to force the AVN to disband in order to silence debate on the issue of vaccination.

Last week in an article published by the Daily Telegraph (yes, the same newspaper that started the “No Jab, No Play” compulsory vaccination campaign and has close financial ties to Glaxo Smithkline and other vaccine manufacturers), Dr Richard Di Natale claimed that he had received abusive messages from members of the AVN. We do not dispute that abusive messages were sent to Senator Di Natale, but we absolutely do dispute that these messages would have been sent by AVN members. As always, when we ask our members to participate in letter-writing campaigns, we ask them to send copies of their letters through to our office. Below are the letters we have received. Though many of them are forthright and ALL of them are articulate and intelligent (as we have come to expect from our members), not one of them could be considered to be abusive in any way!

If you have not yet written to Senator Christine Milne, leader of the Australian Greens, please do so as soon as possible and let her know that your vote will depend on the Greens’ support for freedom of speech and choice. (I’m sure nobody whose letter is reproduced below would mind if you borrowed some of their ideas for your own letters).

Dear Senators,

My name is XXX XXX and while I have not become a member of the Greens, I certainly vote for your party, and have done for all of the elections I have been eligible. I have been raised historically left-wing in my politics, and yet Labor does not attract me as a political force. Your party and its commitment to social justice, awareness and respect for people of varying opinion, and protection of those otherwise unable to protect themselves…in fact championing the cause of the disenfranchised, is what brings me to support your cause.

I am a Chiropractor and I believe I have a great deal of experience and knowledge regarding the health sciences. I have strong awareness of research methodology, and the merits of the scientific method – that of not taking hypothesis as fact – of testing hypothesis exhaustively in an effort to disprove, and thence to progress knowledge. I also understand the influence that both industry and the media can have on the political process.

 An issue close to my heart, and one to which I have devoted a great deal of study, is that of vaccination. And recent events, particularly a speech by Senator Di Natale, the apparent policy position of the Australian Greens he has advocated through said speech, and the resulting motion passed by the Australian Senate worry me on a range of levels. I will acknowledge immediately that my well-researched personal opinion is that vaccination is not the public health achievement that it is lauded as (and I’m happy to explain this at a future time if you would like to know why), but nonetheless I would hope very much that you will engage with me in an open way as to your opinions and the basis for those opinions. I seek in this correspondence to have a balanced, unemotional debate because I feel the very fabric of why I vote for your party and the respect I hold for the tenets of your party is/are being challenged. Please note, that while I am personally very much anti-vaccination, I deeply respect everyone’s right to their opinion, and all I ask is that people fully inform themselves of the evidence, and that whatever decision they then choose is theirs alone, and should be respected and not denigrated or discriminated against as a result. No judgement here, if someone chooses to vaccinate after undertaking such investigation.

The Greens have always respected and protected the right to free speech, and as per the text of Senator Di Natale’s speech, it would appear that he shares a deep commitment to this fundamental right. Historically the Greens have also been instrumental in supporting the rights of people to conscientiously object to procedures or events that they may feel infringe upon their rights as sovereign individuals, particularly in the realm of medical or other health interventions. Your stance on so many aspects of life and liberty certainly make one presume this, and it is a clear reason why I vote for your party.

I would very much desire to enter into conversation with someone such as Senator Di Natale (whom I assume from his speech is very clearly a proponent of vaccination as a public health initiative) as to the relative merits of his versus my position. Perhaps we can both learn from such a discussion. I am not some ‘fringe’ element. I believe I have a great many questions that are valid; questions which go to the heart of the safety and efficacy claimed for vaccination programs around the world. It is of course these elements of the debate which allow the act of vaccination to be framed as for ‘the greater good of society.’ And the apparent loss of an individual’s right to dissent is disregarded and in fact guilt and blame are instead heaped on such people due to the concept of herd immunity and the threat that vaccinations are not effective unless everyone (relatively speaking) is vaccinated.  The vehemence with which this issue is being explored right now, both here in Australia, but also around the world, is surely harmful and the debate would surely be served by a clearer enunciation of the differences both sides hold and the reasons why they hold them.

Unfortunately, it seems that the orthodoxy choose instead to ridicule, deride or attempt to gag such debate, or through their proxies engage in severe abuse of the people who hold an alternative view. This is just not right. No matter how strongly one holds an opinion; no matter what level of evidence one feels that one has, it does not justify anonymous pornographic and profane abuse or anonymous threats to life being sent or phoned throug to those you disagree with. While I’m not claiming that the Greens are intentionally doing this through proxy, the recent resolution, or more particularly the text of the concurrent speech suggests that as a party you are now wholly supporting this gag of debate, and publically supporting and lauding the perpetrators of said abuse. This is shameful. A more positive outcome would be to engage with the opposite side (which, despite suggestions to this effect, are NOT small-numbered or unlearned, and who run the gamut from parents that have suffered vaccine-damaged children, to a great many professionals including many within the orthodox medical community and academia) to identify why they hold such fears, and engage in the research that would either prove their worries inaccurate, or lead to improvement of the application of vaccination in such a way that it could reduce risks to the population.

The orthodox response, seemingly including that found in the Senator’s speech to Parliament can currently be characterised as the denial of risk, the trumpeting of apparent benefit (“medical miracle”), the attempt to stifle the conversation as ‘harmful’ or a ‘public nuisance’ or a ‘public risk’ and the demonising of the few who are willing to publically defend an alternative view and ask questions. This approach is scientifically inaccurate, unfair, inappropriate and seemingly deliberately deceptive. I am used to this from the vaccine industry, orthodox political medicine, and even the bureaucracy of governments espousing policy, but I expect greater from you. In your current role in the parliament, I see you as a foil for this, a power-block than can act as a check-and-balance and critically appraise any issue that comes before you. Indeed, in an ideal world I would expect this from any politician in a representative democracy, who in my view are charged with the responsibility to uphold and protect our society and investigate issues of public risk.

I am a member of the AVN, and I find that most of the statements made against the organisation are ill-informed at best, and downright libellous at worst. Rarely do people seek the AVN to comment before they make claims as to what the AVN stands for. On the rare occasion that comment is sought, such comment is usually ignored, or heavily edited to alter context and support the idea that the AVN is some ‘quack’ organisation. Whoever was responsible for briefing Senator Di Natale on this issue (or writing his speech if he did not do this himself) is clearly guilty of same.

Can I ask what you think is the benefit that Meryl Dorey gets from her position? Do you believe she does this for any purpose other than to passionately argue for a position that she strongly believes to be true? What gain can she receive from the hours and hours of volunteer work she puts in to defend the organisation she founded and the information and resources it provides? Why can people not congregate to support the many people who have been vaccine-damaged without fear of persecution from the very authorities they usually have blindly trusted with their children’s safety?

I am the first to admit that both sides of the debate have (and often still do) use emotive anecdotes to fuel the debate, and historically some of the sources relied upon have perhaps not been of the best quality. However I think it fair to say that many resources now relied upon to support many of the arguments raised by the anti-vaccination, and for that matter, the pro-informed choice camps are of very high quality. They are sources around the world from the peer-reviewed literature.

While I have a great many questions I would seek a response to (from someone opposing, hopefully without ridicule or derision) at another time if someone is willing to engage with me on the issues, the first is simply this: “Why is a small membership-only, volunteer-run community organisation public enemy number one? Why, when there is a plethora of other organisations, resources, internet sites etc both locally, and around the world that provide the same information? Why, if the orthodoxy is so confident about safety and efficacy is there such an apparent fear to engage in the debate, and instead belittle and demonize their opponents?”

Members and Senators of the Australian Greens, and in particular, Senators Milne and Di Natale, I appreciate your willingness to read this letter (if indeed you have not delegated it to a staffer); I appreciate your time. I hope to have some honest debate and not ‘sound-bite’ replies.

Yours, with respect and in anticipation of your reply…

DR XXX
Chiropractor
B.App.Sc.(Comp.Med.)(Chiro.) M.Clin.Chiro.(RMIT University)

As an addendum to this letter, I have dissected the Senator’s speech for what I believe to be significant inaccuracies, and I would appreciate clarification on the source of said statements (if you feel it is my right to ask for such). Please, all Greens senators read this and think about the ramifications of the comments I have made. Thank you in advance.

Senator DI NATALE(Victoria) (23:15):

I rise to address an issue of vital importance to the health of the Australian community, the issue of vaccination. As a former doctor and public health professional, I find it hard to overstate the importance of vaccines to public health. Alongside measures such as access to clean water, sanitation and improved air quality, vaccination is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions in human history.
= Such statements are commonly made with little to no attempt to support them. Can you provide support for such statements? This assumes that safety and efficacy data are accurate, which I dispute.

 Indeed, it is hard to overstate the importance of vaccines in terms of the human suffering they have prevented. As many as half a billion people died from smallpox in the 20th century. This century, the death toll is zero. That is because a program of vaccination completely eradicated smallpox by 1979. The eradication of smallpox is one of the greatest achievements of science but just one example of what this life-saving technology has achieved for humankind. = Why is it that you can claim prevention through vaccination when you have not assessed general health status of populations, whether populations were exposed to the causative organism at all, whether populations provided the other public health interventions you describe above but not vaccination were similarly protected? There seems to be blind faith that the vaccination program was the primary factor, with little evidence to support this claim. Such statements are made often without critically appraising their basis.

Australia in particular is a vaccination success story. = What is your response to the mortality statistics that have been provided by a range of authors in Australia and elsewhere, based on solid data from the departments of health and other relevant bodies? The evidence that clearly shows little impact of illness decline after the introduction of vaccines.

The first vaccine was used here as far back as 1804, which was a smallpox vaccine. Since then, more and more vaccines have become routinely used. Tetanus, diphtheria and polio were early successes. We have had a measles vaccine since 1969 and a mumps vaccine since 1981. All of these potentially life-threatening conditions are now rare, but not unheard of, in this country. = Are they truly life-threatening if children are appropriately supported, nourished, healthy, and if parents are adequately taught how to improve lifestyle to significantly reduce indicidence or severity. Immune status of the child is critical here, surely you would agree?

Children born in Australia today are protected from many more diseases, from chickenpox to human papillomavirus, thanks to safe and affordable vaccines. = If you look at the history of chicken pox, it is NOT a serious disease, especially in the context outlined in my comment immediately above. HPV protection, assuming 100% sero-conversion and a true immune response on exposure (usually many years after vaccination, when they become sexually active) is only for 4 strains…of how many exactly? It is deceptive statements like this that reinforce the public perception that they are fully protected when they are not. Some authors have suggested this in turn can modify more appropriate protective behaviours ‘when the time comes’ because of being lulled into this false sense of security.

In other countries, families are still suffering the costs of many of these preventable diseases. = True. And what are we doing in those countries to markedly improve sanitation, refridgeration, food quality, water quality, education, life-stress associated with work load, poverty etc?

Everyone should have the same protection that Australian children do. That is why it is so important that Australia continues to provide generous support to organisations such as the GAVI Alliance, which are committed to saving the lives of the millions of children in developing countries who lack access to the vaccines we take for granted.

Indeed, vaccination has been such a success in Australia that a strange thing has happened. We have started to forget what it is like to suffer from the preventable infections we fought so hard to conquer. Few parents today have had the experience of watching a child with measles develop complications that become a life-threatening condition. = Once again, such complications arise in immunocompromised individuals, in part because parents no longer have the knowledge and skills or resources described above.

We are spared the horror of watching a child with whooping cough turn blue and suffer a seizure from a coughing fit. = Actually, we are in the midst of the highest indcidence of whooping couch outbreaks in many years, so parents are not being spared this horror – and this despite incredibly high rates of pertussis vaccination – certainly much higher than rates in the past when outbreaks have occurred (maybe herd immunity over time needs higher and higher percentages of the population covered to actually work?). There are valid hypotheses out there that Parapertussis may be causing many of these cases, which is not vaccinated for, and mimics clinical signs and symptoms of pertussis.

We no longer encounter people on a daily basis whose limbs have been twisted by paralytic poliomyelitis. = Have you been advised of the reports of polio that have occurred as a result of polio vaccination programs in India? Do you know the history of the Salk and Sabin solutions, and the slow reaction times in changing which got administered despite the number of people that contracted Polio as a result? Again, the time when Polio was rampant was economically and socially depressed with much lower quality of life.

As these horrors have faded from daily life, we should be celebrating the life-saving innovation that has saved us and our kids from death and disease. Instead, there are people who now question the usefulness of vaccination itself. = Only because the quality and design of the supportive research is so clearly lacking. A temporal association with vaccination programs and disease incidence reduction is CLEARLY not proof of cause and effect. Anyone who argues differently doesn’t quite understand the scientific method of enquiry.

The AVN, the Australian Vaccination Network—misleadingly named—founded in 1994, have styled themselves as providers of vaccine information. = Why misleading? The group is Australian. It is a community network of members. They discuss the topic of vaccination.

In fact, their mission is to deter parents from getting their children vaccinated. = This is clearly an abuse of parliamentary privilege. Read the purpose of the organisation on their website. It’s about providing information that is, yes, exposing and highlighting the potential risks associated with vaccination because the government and GP’s have chosen to abrogate their responsibility to do so. So much for informed consent when you intentionally design your ‘information’ materials to minimise notification of risk, or avoid it completely.

They accomplish their mission by sowing fear and doubt in the minds of parents who have young kids, and by dressing it up in the language of science. = What is this statement? It is inappropriate to present material from scientific journals that questions the blind faith of government policy, which the government actively suppresses?

They pretend to be neutral providers of information to allow parents to make a choice, but in reality they are fiercely anti vaccine. =Individuals within the organisation are definitely fiercely anti-vaccine, all with good reason (many with vaccine-damaged children) – but all adhere to the principle of allowing anyone to make their own choice. But expectant within this is the idea that people will actually do their own research and not blindly follow policies informed by questionable pharmaceutical company research and a TGA that earns its existence through licensing fees levied on said companies. An organisation that no longer has funding to do any of its own independent research.

The claims made by the AVN, and particularly by their founder, Ms Meryl Dorey, beggar belief. Despite being corrected numerous times by health professionals, scientists and so on, they continue to propagate outright myths about vaccines and their safety. They say that the MMR vaccine causes autism, a claim they know has been thoroughly and comprehensively debunked. = No. It is not claimed that it causes Autism. It is claimed that it MAY. And the research you claim has been thoroughly and comprehensively debunked was a single case study (on the link between gut disease and regressive autism) that ALSO did not claim a causal link, but suggested a possible link, and asked for further research to be undertaken. Around the world, the actual findings of the case report HAVE been replicated – purely that a then-novel (now, no longer novel) form of gut disease is linked to regression.

They claim links between vaccines and sudden infant death syndrome. = Have you looked at the preliminary data collected by PhD researcher Viera Schiebner, that no one was willing to further research?Have you looked at the marked decrease in cot death in Japan when they raised vaccination age to 2?

They claim HPV does not cause cancer but that vaccines do. They are on the record claiming that the vaccine against pertussis, or whooping cough, is not safe and has not been tested. The list goes on.

As well as making false claims about vaccines, Ms Dorey and the AVN make even more ludicrous claims about the diseases they were designed to prevent. They dispute the harms of dangerous childhood diseases in order to downplay the benefits of a vaccine. = Please. Look at the many, many definitions and prognoses about Chicken Pox as a prime example in medical literature and text-books, before someone designed a vaccine for it. Not serious. Benign illness in most children. And those that it is serious in? The immunocompromised who should not receive the vaccine anyway.

One especially preposterous example is the claim that measles is beneficial to children, making them more robust and leading to growth spurts. Ms Dorey has claimed that the word measles in Sanskrit means ‘gift from a goddess’ and has publicised a book called Melanie’s Marvellous Measles that downplays the dangers of this disease. = One of many books for sale, that present a range of views, and are not necessarily the views of Ms Dorey or the AVN! Just SLIGHTLY a leap to make here, Senator.

Mr President, as a doctor I can inform the Senate that measles is not a magical gift from Mother Nature. It is a virus that damages the human body and has the potential for serious and sometimes fatal complications. In 2001 the World Health Organization estimated 158,000 deaths from this disease. It is one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide. To suggest that a parent should deliberately expose their child to this disease is reckless. Measles is dangerous and it can be fatal.

= “Potential” “Sometimes” “Can be” Please see earlier comments on quality of life measures. I would argue that obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a GREAT many more chronic preventable illnesses are FAR more ‘leading’, certainly in terms of population involved around the world. 158,000 of the world population is really a PRETTY small figure in this context.

When concerned citizens seek to shine a light on the absurd beliefs of the AVN their reactions are telling. Doctors are called ‘killers’ and ‘terrorists’, and vaccinations are likened to rape by the AVN. To silence critics they take out apprehended violence orders. = This sounds like it has come direct from the people you laud below. If you investigate the matter in any depth you’ll find that the harmful bullying tactics, are actually being perpertrated by the people you are grateful to below.

And when tragedies have occurred that put the lie to their nonsensical claims, they have gone so far as to harass grieving parents. Ms Dorey is alleged to have called Chris Kokogei, whose child died of chickenpox, and said that his child died because his child was weak. In 2009 Dana McCaffery, the daughter of David and Toni McCaffery, tragically died from a whooping cough infection. Incredibly, in response to this tragedy, Ms Dorey went as far as to contact the New South Wales director of the public health to dispute the cause of death and ask for confidential medical information. = It would be wonderful if, before you make such claims in parliament, you read her side of this story. She’s written a number of detailed blogs on the events in question, and the story is far from as clear as you claim.

When the story became public the McCafferys had to endure months of harassment from the AVN and had to endure watching Dorey go on TV denying a child could die of whooping cough and accusing them of turning Dana into a martyr. = Can you show the months of harassment? Noone in the AVN has ever seen any. None has ever been produced. A beat up perhaps to gain emotional support from the broader community?

Fortunately, there are people in the community fighting against the harmful and bullying tactics of the AVN. In response to this disgraceful harassment of the McCafferys, the group Stop the AVN was formed with the purpose of combating the dangerous campaign. I am grateful to people like Daniel Raffaele, Peter Bowditch, Ken McLeod and others who have endured the harassment of Ms Dorey and her followers, but they do it in order to save other parents the unending pain and heartache that they themselves have had to endure. = This paragraph suggests the source of your speech. Please understand these are actually the people perpetrating harassment, leaving disgusting answering machine messages, sending pornography, and many, many similar acts. The AVN doesn’t, hasn’t and won’t!

Dana McCaffery was too young to receive the whooping cough vaccine. She died, though, because the vaccination rate in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales where she was born is alarmingly low, at only 70 per cent. When you reach a threshold level the conditions for an outbreak occur. The virus was only able to survive and thrive in that community because vaccination rates were so low. = Really? Herd immunity. There is no discussion of vaccine shedding from those who have been vaccinated, and the potential for infection of babies and youngsters, again, because people assume that once vaccinated, they and the people they come into contact with are safe. No discussion of efficacy and sero-conversion. No discussion about fully vaccinated populations that experience outbreaks.

And this is the very area where the AVN is strongest and where they are based. Such are the consequences of an irresponsible campaign based on fear and lies.

Unfortunately, I do not have time to complete the catalogue of crimes against reason and common decency perpetrated by this group. I do not know what motivates them. I imagine that they are sincere, but they are misguided, probably due to some combination of superstition, paranoia and scientific illiteracy. = How offensive can you manage to be in one single statement? I think you will find that all of the people who make the decision not to vaccinate have done a great deal of research. It is the remainder of the population that due to THEIR scientific illiteracy, rely on doctors and governments to provide truthful information.

All of that can be forgiven, but the tactics they have used to spread their message of fear and doubt to unsuspecting parents are abhorrent. = Nice use of emotive language! Abhorrent how, exaxtly?

It is true that we do enjoy freedom of speech in this country, and I am a fierce defender of that freedom. But because of the potential for harm we have rules about misleading medical claims, we regulate medicines and we regulate doctors.

In the case of the AVN, that regulation is not working. = The AVN is not a medicine or a doctor. Hence the HCCC embarrassingly lost their case in NSW for investigating the organisation outside their scope. And despite this, they are so focussed on ‘winning’ they had the law changed to increase their scope! One organisation. Despite a GREAT many on the internet and around the world offering similar information. Are you next going to expect that claims made by other community-based advocacy organisations all be vetted and controlled? Where is the logical end of your argument here?

For instance, among the many complaints directed against Ms Dorey and her group, the TGA ordered her to retract claims about a dodgy cancer cure called ‘black salve’ but she has not done that—in violation of the TGA order.

Well-meaning parents in this country who, in good faith, search for information on vaccines are confronted with AVN propaganda. Without knowing the background, it is difficult for them to weigh the credibility of this information against the medical literature.= Would that be the medical literature supportive of your position or the great deal of medical literature that case doubt on your position?

 It is no wonder that some parents are deciding to delay or forgo vaccination, but that could be a fatal decision. For that reason, the AVN need to be held to account. I condemn them, the Australian Greens condemn them and the Australian Senate condemns them.

 

Dear Senator Di Natale

I refer to your recent motion in the Senate calling on the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) to disband and cease its campaign against vaccines.

I am an active Greens member and am usually a great admirer of the work by both yourself and our other Greens Senators.  But I was shocked when I read the story on the ABC News that you had raised this motion.  In looking at the motion, Senate Order of Business No 152, and comparing it to our national policies, I failed to find one that relates to it.  I certainly know the issue of vaccines, in any context, has not been the subject of discussion from a National Greens point of view.

I have deep concerns that your motion infringes on the basic human rights of free speech, something as a Greens member I find disturbing.  In order to make my point, could you tell me whether you are now going to raise a similar motion calling for the disbanding of climate change denying groups as well?  While I detest and am frustrated by people who deny human-caused climate change, I grudgingly recognise their rights to free speech.  If I was to agree with what you have done, I would have found raising such a motion, in regards to climate change, far more imperative considering the human race’s survival is at stake.   Ethically, I see a moral dilemma with your motion, because you have set about a precedence which cannot be ignored.  I can just see that once Tony Abbott has control over both Houses, he and his members will use your example to call for the silencing of any objectors he disagrees with (ie. Coal Seam Gas projects, marriage equity campaigners, etc).  Should you criticise anyone on it, you have no where to go with the argument.

I have been to the AVN website and had a look over the information on it, and I find the very wording of your motion at odds with the apparent intent of the AVN group.  For instance:

a) the AVN has said they want to raise parent awareness that some vaccines are not safe for every child, due to their state of health or family medical background and that they need to question everything to make an informed decision;

b) they have in turn questioned the ethics behind the compulsory vaccination of children;

c) they call for non-pharmacuetical funded studies into what the possible affects of bundling multiple vaccines are on a child’s immune system and neurology;

d) they call for parents to have the right to be able to have vaccines administered individually if they feel it necessary due to medical reasons (as in the US);

e) they call for a National Adverse Reaction Register to be established, as well as legislation that allows for compensation for adverse reactions (as in the US);

f) they call for mandatory discussion of family medical history, the child’s general health and wellbeing, and the possible adverse reactions (stated by the vaccine manufactures) with parents before Doctors administer vaccines;

g) and most obvious to me, they are calling for a review into the ethics of the relationship between pharmaceutical companies, governments and doctors who mandate that the public must not question anything about this relationship or how they go about the business in delivery of these programs.

These points are not the actions of a group who are totally against vaccines.  I could understand your motives better, if this group had called for violence or hatred of individuals (as some of the right wing climate denying groups have done).  While the group had a bit of media interest, this is not a group running adverts on television, releasing pamphlets into peoples homes, or holding mass demonstrations.  They simply have a website where they have listed their concerns on a wide range of issues relating to vaccines.  So I believe it is unfounded to use the term “campaign against vaccines”.  I have to assume that you have confused parents who do not get their children vaccinated out of laziness with people who genuinely have concerns and medical reasons for not following the vaccine schedules laid out by pharmaceutical companies.

While I do believe that the AVN could highlight their concerns in a more cohesive and reasoned manner, I don’t think that they have been irresponsible, nor do I believe anyone has the right to tell them to immediately disband.  I believe it goes against our Democracy policy to do so – something that as a candidate you formally agreed to uphold.   More importantly, I think that using the Senate to bully these people into staying quiet is morally and ethically wrong.

Yours sincerely

TW

 

Dear Christine and Richard,

What has happened to all the good work in previous times by Bob Brown??

What has happened to Freedom of Speech?

The Greens have historically had a positive relationship with AVN. Former leader Bob Brown, advocated for the AVN extensively in parliament, and was instrumental in introducing the conscientious objection clause in the Childcare Payments Bill 1997 (the same clause the Greens in NSW are now trying to have removed).

So what has changed? Certainly not the AVN, of that much I am aware.

Is this a new look Greens party? Or is it simply the work of one ill-informed senator on a personal crusade.

I know for myself personally of the damages caused by vaccinations.  It is heartbreaking. Devastating.

We as parents have the right to choose what is best for our children and families, not some multi-billion dollar campaign which destroys children’s/family’s lives whilst lining the pockets of pharmaceutical companies and politicians/doctors etc.

I have just moved interstate and not signed up to support The Greens in my state until I see confirmed cessation of actions/activities against the AVN by The Australian Greens.  Until I know for sure I will no longer be supporting The Greens and certainly not the other 2 ‘major parties’.

Regards,

C – a former Greens Member and supporter

 

Dear Senator Christine Milne and Senator Richard Di Natale

In March I wrote to the Australian Greens in regards to the Human Rights and Anti Discrimination Bill 2012. I received a reply stating that the Greens support parents right to choose whether they vaccinate their children and we respect the option for people to be conscientious objectors to immunisation. You can read the Australian Greens full policy on health here –  http://greens.org.au/policies/care-for-people/health

In view of    Senator Di Natale:

To move – That the Senate –

(a) notes:

(i) the low vaccination rates in certain parts of Australia. and the threat this poses to the health of Australian children, and

(ii) the irresponsible campaign run by the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), which is spreading misinformation about the risks of vaccination and discouraging parents from vaccinating their children; and

(b) calls on the AVN to immediately disband and cease their harmful and unscientific scare campaign against vaccines.

I would like to know have the greens now changed their health policy and do the Greens now propose that freedom of information, freedom of choice and speech be removed from Australian citizens?

Yours sincerely,

SM

 

Dear Greens

You have just lost my vote.

How dare you try and squash the freedom of information and freedom of choice you say you stand for. Richard Di Natali’s motion to have the Australian Vaccination Network shut down is the sort of thing Abbot would do.

If you actually bother to understand and read what the AVN is about, or spend 5 minutes researching vaccines and some of the possible and very credible scientifically backed claims to the inherent dangers of them, then perhaps you would be educated enough to make some kind of reasonable choices. Banning information is what Hitler stood for. Shame on you for supporting this.

What an utter disappointment.

SM

 

Dear Senator,

I write in strong objection to your disinformation and your proposed tyrannical suppression of the AVN which is blatant curtailment of the inalienable right of free speech.

Your support of toxic vaccines places you in clear Breach of Trust & Duty of Care obligations as per your oath of office and constitutes a presents a clear and present danger to the community. The consequences resulting from your propaganda very likely may, as is often the case with toxic vaccines, prove injurious or fatal in whereby each case will constitute criminal neglect to add to the shameful litany of crime continually stemming from seditious state and federal governments.

Vaccine efficiency and safety is only espoused by lavishly funded vested interests and never supported by objective independent studies that conclusively confirm widespread serious injury and frequently lethal consequences. In addition national health is further compromised by the insidious influence and control over the TGA by criminal pharmaceutical companies and vaccine manufacturers. This unabashed corporate shill brutally suppresses proven cheap and effective natural cancer cures while relentlessly curtailing beneficial health supplements to the great disadvantage and progressively worsening health of the nation. Its atrocious tyranny also imposes the vicious medical fraud of vaccines that are known and repeatedly proven to cause massive widespread injury and death.

Toxic vaccinations are the most maliciously heinous crimes against humanity and will be addressed upon an exponentially rising tide of outrage and disgust. Your position supports the chemical rape and torture of defenceless infants and countless other innocent victims besides.

Please be advised this deeply aggrieved nation seeks remedy and redress with a tipping point against traitorously corrupt governments fast approaching.

Yours sincerely,

TL

 

Senator Di Natale,

I cannot tell you how strongly disappointed I am with you & the Greens party for proposing the motion that the AVN should be disbanded.

Our country prides itself on its democracy & freedom of speech.

As a former doctor working with our indigenous population you may well have come across the work of Dr Archie Kalokerinos & his book “Every Second Child”. He saw the damage the vaccine programme did & was mortified, risking his own career to let people know what was happening.

People are entitled to make the most informed decision they can with regard to their health.

If you are so convinced that vaccination is for everyone, then perhaps you would like to pass a new motion suggesting compensation for people affected by adverse vaccine reactions which you claim are rare & far between.

The AVN has medically referenced information on their website, which concerned people seek out & to which they are entitled. They are not running a campaign.

Can you find me any research which shows there were any cases of regressive autism before the vaccination programme was augmented?

I was going to vote Green in the upcoming election, but no longer.

Regards

JL

Retired ICU Nurse

 

I shall not be renewing my membership with the Australian Greens, and shall immediately rescind my regular payments schedule to them, instead diverting to AVN, along with scheduled pre-election donation……very very disappointing

MM

 

Thank you, I’m a strong greens supporter especially in these critical times of climate change versus governments who have their head in the sand!! Nothing is more important at present I believe.

However I’m most disappointed by the greens push in the senate to ban the AVN from existing. We live in a country of free speech don’t we?? There are thousands of cases of injury and even fatality resulting from vaccines and its imperative is that parents make an informed choice… One that we definitely don’t get from our GP.

It’s another area of head in the sand when it comes to vaccine safety and problems. I believe there are numerous long term side effects and health problems (costing the government mega money) that are not being researched either. You can’t force people to vaccinate and you should not force the AVN from delivering information that is scientific, researched and from the parents who live with injured children … Not to mention those who have suffered the loss of their child through this toxic system.

I totally understand the need for government to want to gain herd immunity, and the control that is needed for this, but really where are we going to end with it all…? The number of vaccines given to babies with the most immature immune system is completely out of control… And rising! We are already breeding a race of children whose intelligent immune systems are completely overloaded and are not learning to work properly for themselves… The incredible rise in auto immune diseases, allergies, autism etc is evidence of this.

I’m not a crack pot, I’m an Acupuncturist and have studied extensively on this, there are so many other professionals in the natural health world who agree with me… Surely we can’t all be wrong. Sorry to go on, I know this is a critical time in politics and I wish you all the very best and hope with the current mess that the Greens can become even stronger, I simply wish to pass on my frustration and thoughts on one of my personal passionate topics!

All the best, thank you for listening.. I hope something can be done. VW

 

Truly disappointing as a now former Greens supporter. I will no longer support them until I am satisfied that they will support the AVN instead of this dangerous smear campaign.
Numerous scientific campaigns have been put forward along with numerous parental claims about the devastating truth of vaccination.
Wish people would realise that the mighty dollar isn’t the truth.

C

 

I must admit I have been voting for the Greens for a quite a while now because they seemed to be the party that stood for protection of the environment and for social justice. However I am so surprised and disappointed with these latest developments I will definitely be putting them last on any ballot paper I fill in.

HA

 

A politician wants to forbid an organisation that doesn’t agree with government policy. That sounds to me like Australia is getting very close to some kind of dictatorship. Aren’t these people ashamed of themselves?
 And as the AVN is accused of lying, then I know a few other organisations that should be forbidden, starting with all main political parties. In a free country like Australia claims to be an issue like this should never even be up for discussion among politicians. Let alone they come with something like this.

RF

 

Dear Senator Milne

As a former supporter of the Greens party, mainly for its belief in free speech, I was absolutely appalled to read Senator Richard di Natale’s speech on http://richard-di-natale.greensmps.org.au/content/news-stories/science-and-public-health

Not only for attacking the AVN in the Senate without doing his research first , but perhaps most shockingly, for his open support of abusers and harassers like Daniel Raffaele, Peter Bowditch and Ken McLeod whose vitriolic abuse and threats the former president of AVN, Meryl Dorey, has had to endure daily just because she selflessly provides information to public on her website.

I am sure others have already brought this to your attention but here is the AVN’s reply to Senator di Natale http://nocompulsoryvaccination.com/2013/07/05/whatever-was-senator-di-natale-thinking/

The points highlighted in this reply are the reason I won’t be voting Greens in the upcoming election unless your party dissociates itself from this witch hunt.

Best regards

JM

Manly, NSW

 

Dear Mr. Di Natali,

I would like to address the motion you are putting to the Australian Senate regarding the disbanding of the Australian Vaccination Network, not from the AVN side of things but from the fact that you are eroding my civil rights and my freedom of speech.  I am a fifth generation Australian.  My great grandfather and three great uncles fought in the Boer war, my two grandfathers and their brothers fought in Gallipoli, my father fought in Darwin and my uncles fought in New Guinea and Borneo in the second world war, my cousin was in Vietnam and my son-in-law in East Timor.  Can you please tell me why the likes of my forebears and other Australians fought in these wars if not for our civil rights and the freedom of speech?  This is only my side of the family without what my husband Robert’s forebears also contributed. I emphatically disagree and protest at the action your are taking and will be making my voice heard in the coming election

On the vaccination question, I have heard the research and know that 93% of children have been fully vaccinated,5% are parents that have put off vaccinating or have forgotten and 2% are those that object to vaccinating for various reasons.  Herd vaccination is keeping children, for the most part, disease free.  If vaccination is so successful I am having a lot of trouble trying to understand that the only children in Australia that carry those diseases are the un-vaccinated ones (who presumably never get sick themselves) that pass the disease onto the ones who are vaccinated and therefore immune, and these immune children get sick?  I thought they would not be able to get it again because they are immune.

Please explain!!!!!

I have sent a copy of this message to Senator Milne and look forward to a response from both of you.

Yours sincerely,

RS

 

 

 

 

Whatever was Senator Di Natale thinking?

Free speech is meaningless unless it involves the
freedom to make statements that others think are false.
The argument for free speech is that open discussion is
the best system for reaching the truth. Viewpoints can be
strengthened by being challenged.

Dr Brian Martin, Debating Vaccination

In 1997, representatives of the Australian Vaccination Network became aware that Federal Parliament was going to be amending Childcare Payments legislation in a way that would make it very difficult for parents who hadn’t vaccinated fully or at all to access government entitlements.

At very short notice and without a whole lot of knowledge of the processes involved, the AVN sent a delegation to Canberra to lobby Senators and MPs to add in a clause allowing parents to become conscientious objectors to vaccination and still receive the same benefits as those who vaccinated.

220px-Bob_Brown_profileOne of the most helpful people during that visit was Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens. Senator Brown was a medical doctor who knew a great deal about the issues surrounding vaccination. He understood our concerns and fully supported the right to freedom of choice and information. Not only did he allow our delegation to use his office for the nearly 2 weeks we were at Parliament (which included helping us to get appointments with parliamentarians and using the telephones and photocopying facility as well), but Senator Brown was one of the people who asked questions on notice and also helped us to introduce the amendments which eventually codified the right for parents to register as Conscientious Objectors to vaccination. Thanks must also go to Senator Dee Margetts, (Australian Greens) and Senators Bartlett and Lees (Democrats) and Harradine (Independent) as well as Senator Crowley (Labor) who did everything they could to assist three legislative neophytes.

The cast of characters has changed – but the discrimination remains the same

Then Federal Minister for Health, Dr Michael Wooldridge, believed that all parents desired vaccination for their children, but that some simply forgot, or were too busy to get it done. So the stated intention for the vaccination requirement was to make sure that these supposedly careless, absent-minded parents would receive a reminder about vaccines.

Senator Brown was not having a bar of that argument however. He saw this as a discriminatory move by the government and fully supported changing the legislation to protect Australian families.

During the committee debate, he stated that:

Looking ahead to amendments coming down the line, we are intending to move that the conscientious objector does not have to first be counselled by an immunisation provider or such person, which would indicate that a conscientious objector at least has to have medical grounds for objecting.

Let us assume this amendment gets passed. If the person simply writes to say that they have a conscientious objection and we have dropped the requirement that they be counselled by an immunisation provider about the benefits and contraindications of immunisation, does the government’s interpretation remain the same—that a letter of conscientious objection, notwithstanding the grounds for that conscientious objection, will suffice to ensure that they do not have their payments terminated?

This was not passed into the final bill because, according to Senator Herron (Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs at the time), forcing parents to see a doctor and be counselled on the issue of vaccination,

gives a person the opportunity to realise the benefits of immunisation and also to discuss the reasons why they are objecting to the immunisation so that it is not done flippantly.”

Evidently, the government of the day felt that parents could be flippant about their children’s health as well as careless and absent-minded.

In response to Senator Herron’s claims, Senator Brown – and remember, he is a medical doctor – said:

I would put it that if people who have an objection to immunisation should be counselled so should everybody else. In fact, there are very strong reasons for counselling those people who are going to have their infants immunised so that they adequately and thoroughly understand at least what is written on the slip that comes with the vaccination from the manufacturers—that is, the warnings that are involved and so on.

…  I cannot accept what the minister says at all. The fact is that there is very much contradictory evidence and debate, even in scientific and medical circles, about vaccination. As a general practitioner, in the past I have been in the position of having to help inform people about vaccination. When you do get to the little wrappers that come with the little bottles of vaccine and read the small print, the alarm bells start ringing.

Vaccination is the application of a vaccine. That can be taken into account for oral doses as well. The problem with immunisation is that that is the result of a reaction to vaccination. It does not always occur. Immunisation may or may not result from vaccination. The word `vaccination’ is the better one to use.

Was Bob Brown anti-vaccination? No, he was not. But he understood the science behind the process of vaccination, accepted that some people would be harmed by vaccines and stated correctly that being vaccinated was not the same as being immune. Senator Brown supported the right of all Australians to make personal decisions regarding this issue in line with Greens policy which, to the best of our knowledge, remains the same today as it was all those years ago.

Are the Greens still Greens?

The Greens party has always stood for social justice, respect for our fellow human beings and our planet. It’s understandable however that some people may be concerned about whether this stance is still the same considering statements made by some members of the Greens regarding both vaccination and anti-discrimination laws in the last few weeks.

In NSW Parliament during the recent debate to require parents to show Conscientious Objector forms before their children would be admitted to either preschool or childcare, a Greens Member argued against allowing the children of either religious or conscientious objectors to be allowed to attend these facilities. Instead, he claimed that the only exemption that should be available is the medical exemption and even for that, parents would need a final approval from a GP – something which would be very difficult to nearly impossible to obtain since most GPs don’t acknowledge reactions even when they occur right in front of them! He also said that there are no religions which preclude use of vaccination as part of their tenets. However, we have it on good authority that Christian Scientists do not vaccinate (nor do they use any Western medicine). In addition, we have also heard that there are several other religions such as Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Orthodox Jews, Muslims and Catholics who either refuse to use certain vaccines or have policies that object to some vaccine ingredients.

The fact that Greens parliamentarians are apparently at the forefront of efforts to discriminate against caring parents who are making what they feel is the best possible decision for their own children is shocking to people who were previously Greens supporters. Many of these people have written to us to express their concern. We will publish those letters in the next blog so you can see how articulate, respectful and well-informed AVN members and supporters are.

Did Senator Di Natale try to get the AVN’s viewpoint before attacking the AVN in the Senate?

The most undemocratic example of these attacks on human rights however, has to be that of Senator Richard Di Natale. As we said in a recent blog, Senator Di Natale proposed a motion that the AVN immediately disband. How did he arrive at this decision? Why would a senator take such an action against a group simply because he disagrees with their message – a message that has been debated by some of the world’s most eminent scientists for over 200 years?

A couple of days before the motion was proposed, the following message appeared on the Facebook page of the hate group, Stop the AVN. Since this message was never posted to the Senator’s own Facebook page (or if it was, the post was later deleted), one must assume that Senator Di Natale was in direct contact with the organisation that has pledged to shut down the AVN in any way possible – including through the use of threats, abuse, harassment and vexatious government complaints. At no time did the Senator attempt to contact the AVN to get our side or to understand why Australian parents question vaccination.

De-Natale-SAVN-post-24_6_13-1By clicking here, you can read the full text of the Senator’s speech from his parliamentary website. Here, we will examine just a few of the many untrue statements and errors and inaccuracies. If Senator Di Natale has the support of the Greens party, this party should be made to explain exactly what evidence they had available to them to back-up the statements which he made under the protection of parliamentary privilege.

Senator (Dr) Di Natale is apparently unaware that Australia is in the midst of a whooping cough epidemic.

When reciting the litany of all that Australians can be grateful for when it comes to vaccination, Senator Di Natale says that,

“We are spared the horror of watching a child with whooping cough turn blue and suffer a seizure from a coughing fit.”

One would think that as a doctor, he should be aware of the fact that Australia is in the midst of a now 6-year long whooping cough epidemic. At its height, this epidemic had more per-capita cases of whooping cough reported than at any time since the introduction of mass vaccination in 1953. In fact, medical journals around the world have been publishing peer-reviewed articles since the early 1990s which indicate that the whooping cough vaccine may be responsible for this upsurge in both cases and deaths.

Senator Di Natale knows nothing about the AVN – and it shows

When discussing the AVN, Senator Di Natale claims that:

In fact, their [the AVN’s] mission is to deter parents from getting their children vaccinated. They accomplish their mission by sowing fear and doubt in the minds of parents who have young kids, and by dressing it up in the language of science. They pretend to be neutral providers of information to allow parents to make a choice, but in reality they are fiercely anti vaccine.”

What does the Senator base this statement upon? Where is his evidence? Even the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), which illegally investigated the AVN in 2009/2010, stated that they had found no evidence that we had ever told anyone not to vaccinate nor had we discouraged anyone from making that choice. One would think that a Senator standing up in Parliament to make such strong statements would do everything in his or her power to ensure the truth of what they were saying. But as we noted earlier, Senator Di Natale did not contact the AVN with his concerns nor did he offer us an opportunity to discuss these issues with him.

Senator Di Natale refers to ‘debunked science’ as proof that the AVN is wrong.

“They [the AVN] say that the MMR vaccine causes autism, a claim they know has been thoroughly and comprehensively debunked.”

Senator Di Natale is obviously referring to the study by Dr Andrew Wakefield et al, published in the Lancet in 1998. This study was the subject of the longest medical investigation in British history by the General Medical Council (GMC) who determined that 3 of the 13 researchers involved had committed fraud in relation to some of the tests performed. They never debunked the results of the study (which wasn’t really a study at all – it was simply a case series reporting on 12 children this team had treated). Last year, one of the three investigators won a high court challenge against the findings of the GMC and there is a great deal of pressure being brought to bear from within the scientific community to reinstate the article in the Lancet.

Since the original Lancet study was published, there have been dozens of peer-reviewed articles which have verified the original findings of the 1998 Wakefield case series. Is Dr Di Natale unaware of this fact?

In addition, the studies to which he refers – the ones which supposedly ‘debunk’ the link between autism and vaccination – have themselves been discredited. Poul Thorsen, a man who is now one of America’s 10 most wanted criminals, was either the lead researcher or worked on 22 out of 24 of these studies. He is now awaiting extradition to stand trial in the US for fraud and embezzlement of between 1 and 2 million dollars from the Centers for Disease Control.

Senator Di Natale greatly exaggerates the risk to children from measles

In the 20 years prior to the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1970, the death rate from measles ranged from between 0.1 and 0.2 per 100,000 per year. In fact, in the early 1980s when the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine was first used in the UK, a medical encyclopedia edited by the then-editor of the British Medical Journal stated that the only long-term side effects from measles virus was life-long immunity to measles infection.

Yet here is how Senator Di Natale describes this common and formerly benign disease of childhood:

“It is a virus that damages the human body and has the potential for serious and sometimes fatal complications. In 2001 the World Health Organization estimated 158,000 deaths from this disease. It is one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide. To suggest that a parent should deliberately expose their child to this disease is reckless. Measles is dangerous and it can be fatal.”

To suggest, as Senator Di Natale does, that Australian children are at high risk of permanent disability or death from measles infection and that measles vaccine will reduce that risk is both unscientific and reckless. And estimates provided by the World Health Organisation are just that – estimates. They are determined by computer modelling which has never been confirmed by actual on-the-ground statistical information. This issue is covered in great detail on our sister blog, the Real Australian Sceptics.

Senator Di Natale thanks abusers and harassers

“I am grateful to people like Daniel Raffaele, Peter Bowditch, Ken McLeod and others who have endured the harassment of Ms Dorey and her followers, but they do it in order to save other parents the unending pain and heartache that they themselves have had to endure.”

This is one of the most shocking statements that Senator Di Natale made. Daniel Raffaele is neither a parent nor someone who has ever shown any sympathy to parents who have had to endure his harassment. He has publicly stated that he would see the demise of ex-AVN President, Meryl Dorey, and late-night phone calls, confirmed by the NSW Police to have originated from his home, were made to Ms Dorey’s house asking her to ‘Die in a Fire’ and ‘Just burn’ (click the links to listen to recordings of these calls). In fact, Ms Dorey currently has an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) against Mr Raffaele which stops him from coming within 100 metres of her.

Peter Bowditch is one of the most abusive individuals involved in this issue. He regularly asks the parents of vaccine injured children – and even those whose children have died as a result of vaccination – how many dead babies it takes to give them an orgasm. He has asked Ms Dorey who has a vaccine-injured child herself, this very question several times and continued to send her harassing emails long after she asked him to stop.

Yet these are people Senator Di Natale says he is grateful to.

Senator Di Natale claims:

. To silence critics they [the AVN and Ms Dorey, its ex-President] take out apprehended violence orders.”

The AVN feels that this is a very dangerous statement since it puts the government squarely on the side of those who threaten and harass others and also has the potential to prejudice cases which are currently before the courts. Ms Dorey has endured over 4 years of daily abuse and harassment from the very individuals whom the Senator holds up as paragons of society. In fact, this abuse was so unprecedented, Dr Brian Martin, Professor of Social Sciences at the University of Wollongong, said (in relation to the attacks against the AVN and Ms Dorey):

“In over 30 years studying scientific controversies, I have never come across such a sustained attack on a citizens’ group involved primarily in presenting information to the public.”

His article, Debating Vaccination, is a study of these attacks which Senator Di Natale may find informative were he to take the time to read it.

Ms Dorey filed three AVOs – two of which are yet to be finalised – and one of which has been awarded as stated above. The AVOs were filed at the suggestion of the NSW Police and were a last-ditch attempt by Ms Dorey to gain the protection of the courts against individuals whom she rightly feared.

Senator Di Natale’s statements are not factual

Under the protection of parliamentary privilege, Senator Di Natale makes the following claim:

“Ms Dorey is alleged to have called Chris Kokogei, whose child died of chickenpox, and said that his child died because his child was weak.”

This ‘allegation’ is completely false. Ms Dorey has never contacted any parent who had lost a child as a result of either vaccination or illness and for Senator Di Natale to tell such untruths without any evidence whatsoever, is completely immoral. For over 20 years, Ms Dorey has regularly helped, supported and comforted parents whose children have either died or been permanently injured by vaccines. At all times, she has provided both sympathy and assistance to these families. At no time has she or would she ever have behaved in such a callous manner.

A poor example of a parliamentarian

We invite you now to read the full text of Senator Di Natale’s speech. If you are a member or supporter of the Greens, we invite you to respectfully express your feelings about the Senator to Senator Christine Milne, Greens leader. We also ask you to consider carefully where you will put both your financial support and your vote in the up-coming election. Will you vote for a party that supports human rights or will you vote for a party that appears to oppose this most basic of issues?

Hate, threats and cowardice

There are many people in this world I disagree with.

  • I disagree with people who think that women should be kept at home, not paid equal wages for equal work or aren’t as intelligent as men.
  • I disagree with people who think that there is only one ‘right’ religion and everyone who worships differently or who doesn’t worship at all is damned.
  • I disagree with people who think it’s OK to wear red and pink together. I mean…come on! Think people!

There are a whole range of other people’s opinions I disagree with and I can be forthright about letting them know that many times. This has led to some great arguments, debates and yes, good-natured verbal slanging matches in the past.

What it has never led to – until recently – is threats and hundreds if not thousands of vexatious complaints. It has never led to people wanting to kill me because they don’t agree with the results of my research into the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. It has never led to people calling my home in the middle of the night to tell me to die in a fire or sending me emails saying they are sharpening their knives for me.

In my world – until recently – it was OK to disagree and even to fight about these disagreements – even to dislike each other because of irreconcilable differences. Disagreement didn’t mean wanting to physically harm the person you disagreed with, nor did it mean sending constant threats or trying to stop them from speaking in public. They are every bit as entitled to their beliefs and opinions as I am – even if my beliefs and opinions are backed by research and theirs aren’t. Each to their own.

Why won’t I tell people where our Canberra seminar will be held?

A few days ago, the AVN announced that it would be holding a seminar in Canberra on Saturday the 10th of November. For the first time, we have decided not to release the name or location of the venue – only saying that it is centrally located within Canberra so it will be easy for anyone in that area to get to.

The reason we did this is that over the last 3 1/2 years or so, every single time we have held seminars, there have either been threats to the venues, requiring us to hire security guards at our expense – or letters and phone calls to the venue urging them not to allow us to speak. The source of these threats has always been both the hate group, Stop the AVN (SAVN) and their parent group, the Australian Skeptics.

These anti-democracy campaigners will do anything and everything to take away our right to speak and your right to hear us. One has to wonder what they will gain by their campaign against free speech?

Within a matter of hours after advertising our newest seminar, the following post was placed on the SAVN Facebook page by a ‘brave’ person who has made up a profile to hide their real identity:

No doubt, there are currently several complaints winging their way to various government departments in the ACT and no doubt, this will cost the government there money in investigating and assessing these vexatious missives – but since when has SAVN or the Skeptics ever worried about costing the government money? Their stunts in NSW must have cost in the area of several million dollars now if they were added up. So what’s a bit more?

Then, just about 2 hours ago, I received an email from someone using a tormail account. I believe this is the same person who previously sent threats to me using the fantasticfox5@tormail account. You remember that person – Dan Buzzard’s mate from Stop the AVN.

This time, they used a new tormail account – one has to wonder if the other one got too ‘hot’ for them?

And here is what they said:

From: savn@tormail.org
Date: 24 October 2012 2:42:40 PM AEST
To: meryl@avn.org.au
Subject: fire alarm

wouldnt it be fun to pull the fire alarm at ur venue?

you could just cancel your talk it would save a lot of agro

We are Anonymous.
We are Legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
Expect us.

Of course, this juvenile anonymous wanna-be is just a symptom of the whole SAVN psyche. These are people who believe that it is OK to threaten those they disagree with and to do it from the protection of anonymity. They are surrounded by thousands of hangers-on who are too gutless to say anything in opposition to the abusers because – well, let’s face it – anyone who belongs to a hate group is themselves a hater. So there are the vocal haters who should be in gaol for their hate crimes and the background haters who should be ashamed of their support and enabling of these criminals.

 

Central NSW Seminar tour – first impressions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those who attended

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The medical brown shirts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bullies only win when we let them…

We teach our children when they are very young to stand up to bullies; that if they stand up to them, most bullies will back down because they are cowards and prefer easy targets.  We also teach our children that we must always help someone that is being bullied and not just turn the other way.  Just recently, I have come to find out that some bullies never grow up and the internet is the perfect place to bully someone without needing the courage to even face your victims.

I wrote an article called “Anti Vaxxer” the new dirty word?” anonymously because I was worried about the backlash that I, and especially my family, may get from these internet bullies, and they did not disappoint…

“There is a reason you are all ridiculed and condemned – you threaten the lives of the community around you. Your ignorant, uneducated decision to eschew vaccines in favour of insanely stupid alternative therapies only deserves contempt.”

“If you refuse a whooping cough vaccine to an infant, and they then catch pertussis, there is a chance that they can die. Child killer indeed.”

” this is sheer nonsense, and only aids in adding to the froth that boils from the mouths of the anti vaccine crowd”

“Anti vaxers seem to get delight from the deaths of infants from VPDs”

“You are all to blame for this, not the government, not the media and certainly not those that oppose your very existence.”

“…you are a group of misinformed, tin foil hat wearing, slobbering  conspiracy theorists.”

“You are a bunch of fringe dwelling conspiracy theorists that have no social conscience”

There is more but it is not really worth repeating any more of this individual’s ranting of hatred and hostility. I think it is plainly obvious that his ranting only helped prove my point.

But what I now feel compelled to do is what I have taught my children to do: step up and face my bullies.

My name is Tasha David and I am the widowed mother of 8 children, 6 of whom were vaccinated and as a result, have neurodevelopmental and autoimmune disorders.  They have suffered from eczema, asthma, psoriasis, chronic ear infections, gastrointestinal disorders (ie chronic diarrhea, chronic constipation and urinary tract infections), food allergies and intolerances, and chemical sensitivities while my 2 youngest unvaccinated children have NONE of their sibling’s disorders.

My two youngest children are the picture of health. None of them have had antibiotics, and only one of them has needed to go to the doctor and that was just to check out the wax build up in his ears.  Watching them thrive is bittersweet. I look at the joy, excitement and wonder that they have for the world and think this is what my other children would have experienced if I had let them grow and develop naturally.

I am also one of the many members who make up the Australian Vaccination Network who have vaccine injured children and who the bullies out there want to silence.  They feel that we have no right to voice our concerns; that our personal experiences are meaningless, and that we shouldn’t even exist!

Who are they to say who has the right to be heard, let alone exist?

Why do they believe that only the information that they deem pertinent should be allowed in the public arena?

Do they not feel that people are capable of making up their own mind about what is right for their own families?

Just as two people can look at the same picture but have two different interpretations, it does not mean that one is wrong and one is right, it is just that they see things differently.

What may be right for your child may not be right for mine, so it is my job as a parent to make that choice for my child, I do not know your child so I have no right to even try to tell you what to do with yours. We all want healthy children, it’s just that we see different ways of achieving this.

What is so hard to understand about this?

I believe with all my heart that people should have the right to choose to vaccinate or not vaccinate, but the choice should always be theirs to make. When you fight to silence another person’s point of view because it contradicts your own then it shows that you do not have faith in your own convictions.

I write this today not for the bullies, but for the parents like me, who are feeling downtrodden, disheartened and persecuted. We cannot let the bullies win.  If we stop asking questions, sharing our personal experiences and supporting each other for fear of ridicule then they have already won.

We must stand up and support each other and ignore the insults and slights from those who would have us cower in fear, do as we have taught our children to do, stand up to the bullies together and take our power back.

We are not fighting for people to stop vaccinating, we are fighting for people’s right to hear all the information available and make their own choices.

I take heart from this quote from Mahatma Gandhi…

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won.  There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall.  Think of it—always.”

Horrible atrocities have occurred in our history when people are allowed to oppress others, and we lose our humanity when we allow this to happen.

This should be no person’s goal for another.

Tasha David

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