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The Australian Vaccination Network was the big winner in the 2001 Millenium Awards, taking out the prestigious Anus Maximus Award. The award was announced in the following words:
Several years ago I wrote book about the Internet and I had to research pornography and other "offensive" things because it was obvious that I would be asked about this in most, if not all, promotional interviews. Nothing I found then offended, saddened, upset or angered me as much as a web site belonging to an organisation called the Vaccination Awareness Network, where, in perfectly rational and calm language, parents were advised to kill their children with measles and cripple them with polio. It was the closest I have ever come to being converted to the cause of censorship.
In 1999 I discovered that the organisation had changed its name to the Australian Vaccination Network and had a new web site. I can only assume that this change to a more neutral name was made to deceive people into thinking that the organisation was about vaccination, not about preventing children from getting it. That name change and web site were the inspiration for The Millenium Project.
The AVN again has a new web site, with a new domain name this time. I don't know why they have the new domain name unless they are planning to move the organisation into the more lucrative US market. I expect that the organisation name will also change to something a bit more international. It will probably be something a bit more innocuous as well so that more parents can be deceived into thinking that this organisation is interested in the welfare of children.
The AVN backed up to win an Encouragement Award in the 2009 Millenium Awards. The award citation read:
2009 wasn't a good year for the AVN. It got off to a bad start when some AVN members thought that it would be a good idea to abuse the parents of a baby girl who died of whooping cough at the age of four weeks. The parents were less than amused by this and went to the media, resulting in some less than flattering coverage for the AVN and its child-endangering activities. No longer seen as the experts on vaccination, suddenly the organisation was being asked to justify its actions, something that could only be done by denigrating and abusing their opponents. Later in the year they came to the attention of the authorities for collecting money without a current charitable organisation registration and then found themselves being investigated by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. To make matters worse it was discovered that they had not been telling the truth to advertisers in their magazine (one advertiser said that they didn't want to be involved with "deranged" people like the AVN) and had been claiming an association with a charity when no such association existed. They closed a couple of Facebook pages when people started asking questions, purged their email mailing list, took their magazine out of newsagents and naturopaths' waiting rooms and begged for money several times to keep the doors open. The President of AVN, Meryl Dorey, won the Australian Skeptics' Bent Spoon Award for 2009.
The purpose of this award is to encourage them to continue as they are because this means that they might soon disappear completely, thus making a positive contribution to public health and particularly the health of children.
Dear Ms Dorey,
Congratulations. The Australian Vaccination Network won an Encouragement Award in the 2009 Millenium Awards presented by The Millenium Project. While this might not be as pleasing to you as the Anus Maximus Award that the AVN won in 2001, the judges felt that after the year of bad publicity that the AVN received in 2009 you need some encouragement. The award citation read:
Please feel free to publicise your award and display the award logo on your web site. If you wish to collect the physical prize (a tube of haemorrhoid cream and a wire brush applicator) you can do so at your own expense, but please give me sufficient notice so that I can organise the location for the public application of the cream and the accompanying media coverage.
You can see the other award winners at https://ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2009/2009awards.htm
The AVN did it again with an Encouragement Award in the 2013 Millenium Awards. The award citation read:
The Australian Vaccination Network has appeared twice before in the Awards listings (in 2001 and 2009), and it is time to give them some more encouragement, especially as this will be the last time they can appear using that name. 2013 was a bad year for the AVN, losing court cases initiated to silence critics by abusing the legal process, seeing legislation changed to close a loophole that allowed them to avoid government scrutiny, finally being told that there are people with the authority to order them to change the deceptive name, seeing the introduction of stricter rules designed to keep the pox-ridden spawn of vaccine deniers away from children in preschools, and getting Facebook to look at the way that their complaint systems can be manipulated by liars.
The AVN needs encouragement now more than ever before. Encouragement to continue the downward spiral into oblivion. They will leave a vacuum that will almost inevitably be filled by another organisation or group lying about the dangers of vaccines, but that replacement group will be working in an environment much more hostile and aware than that which allowed the AVN to flourish and endanger children for so many years.
Dear Ms Dorey and Mr Beattie,
Congratulations. The Australian Vaccination Network won an Encouragement Award in the 2013 Millenium Awards presented by The Millenium Project. This makes the third time the AVN has appeared in the winners' list. Hopefully it will be the last. The award citation read:
Please feel free to publicise your award and display the award logo on your web site. If you wish to collect the physical prize (a tube of haemorrhoid cream and a wire brush applicator) you can do so at your own expense, but please give me sufficient notice so that I can organise the location for the public application of the cream and the accompanying media coverage.
You can see the other award winners at https://ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2013/2013awards.htm
The AVN has a mailing list at https://groups.yahoo.com/group/AVN/, but they are so ashamed of their activities that they won't let me join the list. In fact, I have been banned. You can see the full story of the banning by clicking here.
Here is a rather unambiguous statement about vaccines. It was made on December 17, 2008, by Meryl Dorey, AVN president, on the AVN's mailing list. Remember that these people claim to only want vaccines to be safe and for parents to make informed choices.
There will come a time - I pray to God that it will happen in my lifetime - when those who have pushed vaccines upon innocent, helpless babies - doctors, pharmaceutical companies, government officials - will be proven to have lied and cheated these instruments of death into our children's bloodstream. When that occurs, the outcry will be heard around the world and there will not be enough hiding places on the globe for these murderers to hide or enough money to pay for compensation. Of course, it will be too late for the babies, like this poor child, to be saved. But we will be able to take satisfaction from the fact that never again will anyone have to be pushed to poison their child because for once and for all, it will be known as poison and we will all wonder how it was we fell for the vaccine lie for as long as we did.
When that time comes, will you be able to say that you did everything in your power to help bring the truth out? Support your local pro- vaccination choice organisation, speak to friends and family about these tragedies and never, ever stay quiet about the dangers of vaccination. Those of us who know owe it to others to speak our truth.
All the best,
AVN goes on a hypocrisy campaign (4/1/2014)
There is obviously an outbreak of desperation at the soon-to-be-renamed Australian Vaccination Network. Perhaps they should be concentrating on finding an acceptable name that represents the true objectives of the organisation.
I mentioned before Christmas that I had been banned from Facebook for twelve hours because some anonymous, lying coward had complained about a completely innocuous post I had made in response to an anonymous poster. Over the next few days I was banned five more times, and many other people were also subject to Facebook's broken and capricious complaints system. One person was prevented from contacting friends and relatives about arrangements for her father's funeral, but as anti-vaccination liars are in favour of death they probably wouldn't have seen this as any sort of problem. Meryl Dorey has denied all knowledge of this campaign, despite using exactly the same tactic herself back in September last year, but this came as no surprise as we have become accustomed to both her commitment to free speech (which includes taking court action to silence critics) and her respect for the truth.
I was banned a seventh time as collateral damage when a post by an administrator of the Stop The AVN group was whined about, resulting in a ban for all administrators of the group. At least this was better than the situation in 2012 when a complaint was made that an admin was doing something dreadful and all the administrators were threatened with permanent bans. On that occasion I had to identify myself to Facebook to be allowed back in, but some people were banned for days or weeks and a few had their Facebook accounts closed down completely.
Here are the horrible things I said that caused me to offend against Facebook's "community standards":
My sister's seizure was caused by measles. All of her children are fully vaccinated.
This is a reference to this person claiming a degree she doesn't have.
As you can see, the phrase "community standards" appears to have no real meaning at Facebook.
They other example of AVN hypocrisy I mentioned a few weeks back was the publication of a picture of me on a Facebook page named "Stop the Australian Vaccination Propaganda". It showed me asking a question, so I posted it on the page myself with a request that someone answer the question. Then the fun started. Anonymous people commented on my weight, my complexion, my drinking habits and other things of which they know nothing. Insulting me was perfectly acceptable behaviour, and you need to remember that there was a simultaneous campaign to complain about mentions of people's names. Unfortunately, the page has now either been removed or hidden in some way so I can't show examples of what was said. It seems strange that the anonymous posters should feel so ashamed of what they said that they needed to hide it, particularly as it is difficult to imaging anti-vaccination liars having any sense of shame at all.
Before the page disappeared, however, something really amusing happened. Remember that I had posted back to the page an image that had been originally put there by the page owner. Then this:
That's right. The clown reported a picture that they had themselves posted. Reported for "nudity or pornography"! Stupidity like this needs recognition and reward. If stupidity were to be declared an Olympic sport this would be gold medal material.
And what was the decision from Facebook?
It looks like there is at least a smidgeon of sanity in their complaints system. We can only hope it eventually spreads to anonymous complaints about using people's names when replying to them.
Changing that name (25/1/2014)
Now that the holiday season is over and all the public servants are about to return to their desks to start the cogs of officialdom and bureaucracy turning again it's probably a good time to revisit this media release issued by the NSW Office of Fair Trading in November last year. It's been two months and the Australian Vaccination Network has not yet announced any new, truthful name, but there has been a fire sale of office furniture so maybe the plan is to simply disappear. Which would be nice.
Australian Vaccination Network ordered to change its name
25 November 2013
Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts today welcomed a decision by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) to order the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) to change its name on the grounds it is misleading.
The ADT has upheld NSW Fair Trading's direction to the AVN to change its name.
Mr Roberts said Fair Trading had acted in the public interest by requesting the AVN change its name, based on claims the name is unacceptable under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009.
"Fair Trading acted in this matter after receiving numerous complaints, including from the Australian Medical Association, that the AVN name was misleading given its overwhelming focus on the publication of anti-vaccination messages and information," Mr Roberts said.
"The time has come for AVN to find a name which reflects its anti-vaccination stance.
"This is about being open and upfront about what you stand for, not hiding behind a name which could mislead the community about a very significant public health issue."
On 21 December 2012, the Associations Incorporation Amendment (Unacceptable Names) Regulation 2012 commenced. The amendment expanded the classifications of unacceptable names to include a name likely to mislead the public in relation to the nature, objects or functions of an association.
In January, Fair Trading issued a direction to the AVN to change its name on the basis it was undesirable because it had the potential to mislead the public.
On 8 February 2013, the Association sought an internal review of that decision. The internal review was completed on 19 February, affirming the original decision.
The Association then lodged an appeal in the ADT.
At the first hearing on 22 March 2013, Judge O�Connor, President of the Tribunal, placed conditions on the organisation, including that a prominent consumer warning be published on the AVN website and its Facebook page by 26 March 2013.
The warning stated Fair Trading had directed AVN to change its name because it regarded the name to be misleading and that the direction was being challenged before the Tribunal.
AVN has 28 days to lodge an appeal against today's decision.
Mr Roberts said Fair Trading reserves the right to pursue costs associated with any ongoing legal action undertaken by AVN.
What is known is that the AVN have been trying to register names which are similar to "Australian Vaccination Sceptics (or Skeptics) Network". Any attempt to use one of these names will be strongly challenged by groups such as Australian Skeptics Inc and people who care about the truth. They have been ordered to change the deceptive name, and changing it to something which is possibly even more deceptive should not be allowed. I realise that the AVN don't see what they are attempting to do as anything wrong, but truth and morality are concepts that they simply don't understand.
The new name. At last. (15/3/2014)
It's official. The Australian Vaccination Network now has a new, officially approved and registered business name. After a year-and-a-half of whining about being forced to change from the deceptive name they have announced that henceforth they will be known as the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network. They have also announced that this is no big deal, which raises the question of why they didn't just do it when first asked to instead of wasting the time and money of the courts, court officials, lawyers and AVN members to fight it. But then, common sense and rational action have never been too evident where the AVN is concerned, so behaving idiotically is just standard operating procedure. It has also been announced that the AVN has relinquished its charity licence (the current one was due to expire in April anyway).
The new name isn't as worrying to real skeptics as you might think. Because the word has been hijacked by fringe groups like climate change deniers, the public is already sensitised to treating the word with suspicion. I know that Australian Skeptics often get asked if the name means that we deny climate change and any anthropomorphic effect on climate (maybe we have to change our name!) but at least we can respond by pointing to science. Anti-vaccination liars can't, so the name might backfire on them. And I can assure you that this will be highly publicised by those of us who are committed to the total destruction of this vile and dangerous organisation. "Stop the AVN" just needs another letter in its name and the fight against unreason will continue.
Bitstrip has something to say about the news.
In another change, the AVN's Facebook page will no longer be run by Meryl Dorey or anyone officially connected to the organisation but will be administered (and presumably censored as is traditional) by an anonymous person who does not live in Australia. In a case of the supreme ignorance of irony shown by clowns like anti-vaccination liars, this anonymous moderator has taken the name Benjamin Rush, someone who not only signed the US Declaration of Independence but was one of those hated doctors who supported vaccination and even had a hand in establishing the specialty of psychiatry, a field of medicine despised by quacks everywhere. (The AVN has sold Scientology anti-psychiatry materials from its web site for a long time.)
To add to the woes of the AVN and the joy of sane people, the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission has ordered the AVN to remove all erroneous misinformation from its web site. As this will leave nothing much except a single page with a logo on it, the order is being strongly resisted. I'll write about the hilarious response from the AVN next week because there's a lot to go through, but to give you an idea of the flavour AVN President pro-tem Greg Beattie ordered the HCCC to reply to him in a manner satisfactory to him within seven days. Observers have commented that this is not the way to get bureaucracies to treat you kindly. It's a laugh a minute.
Good news about vaccination 1 (5/4/2014)
Almost the best best news you can hear about vaccination, almost as good as hearing that a disease has been wiped out (Australia was officially declared free of measles by the WHO on March 20, 2014 - all cases in the last three years have been traceable to someone entering the country from elsewhere) is the decline of an anti-vaccination liar organisation. The death throes of the formerly-named Australian Vaccination Network are running on nicely. As well as the forced name change they are no longer a charity. It was originally thought that they had simply decided not to renew the licence (it was due to expire in April 2014 anyway) but the truth is that the status was surrendered at the request (order?) of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing.
In a wonderful show of rewriting history, AVN spokesfolk have been claiming that they never wanted the charity status in the first place, they never used it, that they only got it by accident when they absorbed another organisation back in the day, that they had tried to cancel it but couldn't, it was a "millstone" they were glad to be rid of, ... Unfortunately these claims seem to be in conflict with their action when the licence was temporarily suspended in 2010 (they fought it in court), the gleeful announcements when it was restored (due to a technicality in a 1993 piece of legislation), and the statement made many times on the AVN web site and in blogs and emails that they were a charity.
For example, in 2009 I noticed this on the AVN web site:
I also noticed that their charity licence had expired and informed OLG&R. Ms Dorey offered this action of mine to a Court as evidence of harassment. From at least 2007 the AVN's web site claimed on the "Donations" page that it was "a volunteer run charity organisation". It even said what charitable works the donations would be spent on (including one place that had never heard of the AVN and wouldn't have anything to do with them anyway)
Now for the investigations into where the money went when they were a charity. I can hardly wait.
Here is the media release by the Minister.
Tuesday 18 March, 2014
AUSTRALIAN VACCINATION NETWORK (AVN) NO LONGER A LICENSED CHARITY
Minister for Hospitality George Souris today warned the public not to make charitable donations to the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network Incorporated (AVSNI), formerly known as the Australian Vaccination Network Incorporated (AVN), as it is no longer a registered charity.
Mr Souris said the association had surrendered its 'Authority to Fundraise' under the Charitable Fundraising Act following an investigation into its anti-vaccination activities by the Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing (OLGR).
"OLGR issued a 'show cause' notice to the association requiring it to respond in writing on why its Authority to Fundraise should not be revoked," Mr Souris said.
"As a result, the association has now surrendered its Authority to Fundraise to OLGR effective immediately".
Under the Charitable Fundraising Act, if an organisation intends to fundraise for a charitable purpose it must be the holder of an Authority to Fundraise.
However, an Authority to Fundraise for a charitable purpose can be revoked if determined to be in the public interest. One of the objects of the Charitable Fundraising Act is to prevent deception of members of the public who desire to support worthy causes.
"OLGR's investigation sourced expert medical evidence challenging the accuracy of information provided on the association's website in relation to the risks and benefits of vaccination," Mr Souris said.
"The investigation highlighted a range of potential concerns, including risks arising from the association's anti-vaccination advocacy and the potential for misinformation to influence important health decisions resulting in potentially adverse public health consequences.
"As the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network Incorporated does not hold an Authority to Fundraise from OLGR they can no longer fundraise for a charitable purpose".
Minister for Fair Trading, Stuart Ayres, said the association recently changed its name, to the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network Incorporated, following a direction from Fair Trading and an Administrative Decisions Tribunal decision requiring it to adopt a name accurately reflecting its scepticism about vaccinations.
"I warn members of the public against making donations to this organisation.
"NSW Government agencies will continue to monitor the organisation's activities to ensure it does not fundraise for a charitable purpose."
Minister for Health Jillian Skinner said she is very proud of the NSW Liberal & Nationals Government's commitment to childhood vaccination.
"On January 1 this year, new legislation came into effect to ensure no child can be enrolled at a child care facility unless the parent/guardian provides an official immunisation record which shows the child is fully immunised or has been granted an exemption after the parents/guardian have met with a GP or nurse immuniser.
"Our Government is determined to protect our children from the devastating consequences of vaccine-preventable disease.
"While NSW has a very high rate of vaccination among children, we will continue to do all we can to protect those children who remain unvaccinated.
"Forget the scaremongering - there is nothing to fear from vaccination," Ms Skinner said
Good news about vaccination 2 (5/4/2014)
The other bit of good news about the AVN is that the Health Care Complaints Commission has told them to clean up their web site. Also, HCCC has issued a draft of a Public Warning (nobody from AV-SN can complain about me reproducing it here because I downloaded it when they published it on their Facebook page). Objections to the idea of a public warning have of course been lodged, but as these objections took the form of issuing ultimatums to the HCCC and were expressed in several chapters, each with a volume of text approaching that of a later Robert Ludlum novel, I will leave discussion of them for later.
Here's what the Public Warning is likely to say. (The whole thing is a bit long to reproduce here, so I've only included the final warning. You can read the full statement here.
The Commission considers that AVN's dissemination of misleading, misrepresented and incorrect information about vaccination engenders fear and alarm and is likely to detrimentally affect the clinical management or care of its readers. As seen through the examples provided above, AVN does not provide reliable information to enable its readers to make proper and informed decisions about vaccination.
Given the issues identified with the information disseminated by AVN, the Commission urges caution is exercised when using AVN's website or Facebook page to research vaccination.
The Commission has recommended that AVN amend its published information with regard to the above issues and the Commission will monitor the implementation of these recommendations.
The last word. I hope. (19/4/2014)
The latest edition of Australasian Science is now in newsagents and letterboxes and contains what I hope is the last thing I have to write there about the recently-but-still-deceptively-named Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network.
As I do almost every month, I urge you to subscribe to this excellent popular science magazine. I believe it's the best of its kind in the country (and not just because I write for it) and it is rare to see an article that can't be easily understood by a literate non-scientist.
March 2014 was a very good month for supporters of vaccination as the Australian Vaccination Network, Australia's most visible and virulent critic of vaccines, ran out of any sympathy the organisation had from public health and regulatory authorities.
The warning is back (3/5/2014)
In July 2010 the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) issued its first ever Public Warning, telling people to stay away from the Australian Vaccination Network. The AVN fought the order, and a restriction on their charity status, in the NSW Supreme Court, and to the obvious displeasure of the judge the order was overthrown. (The relevant legislation had been written in 1993 and required the HCCC to only act on complaints made by affected individuals. In this case the complaint had been made by a third party. The judge was not pleased about this and made it quite clear that she was not happy with the law but had to rule according to what it was. The law has since been changed to reflect changes in society and communication since 1993 (when the World Wide Web has just been invented). The AVN claimed an enormous victory in the court, and puts the change in legislation down to ownership of the NSW Government by Big Pharma.)
Warning about the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc. (�AVN�), formerly known as Australian Vaccination Network Inc.
30 Apr 2014
The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission has completed an investigation into the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc. ("AVN"), formerly known as Australian Vaccination Network Inc and under section 94A(1) of the Health Care Complaints Act has decided to make the following public statement and warning. The Commission investigated whether information published and disseminated by AVN may be misleading or inaccurate.
AVN was established in 1994 in New South Wales by a group of people concerned about the lack of scientifically-based information cautioning against vaccination. AVN states on its website that the government and the medical community, in general, "exaggerate the safety and benefit profiles of vaccinations whilst downplaying their risks." AVN states it was formed with the purpose of:
providing medically-referenced information on vaccine safety and effectiveness lobbying to ensure that vaccinations are never made compulsory for Australian children supporting those who have chosen not to vaccinate or to vaccinate selectively.
AVN disseminates information to the public via a variety of mediums. These include its website, www.avn.org.au, the magazine entitled "Living Wisdom" (which ceased publication in January 2013), its Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube. Meryl Dorey, the former President, has also held a number of radio interviews.
The Commission investigation focussed on information provided on AVN's website and some information disseminated on AVN's Facebook page.
Public warning The Commission has established that AVN does not provide reliable information in relation to certain vaccines and vaccination more generally. The Commission considers that AVN's dissemination of misleading, misrepresented and incorrect information about vaccination engenders fear and alarm and is likely to detrimentally affect the clinical management or care of its readers.
Given the issues identified with the information disseminated by AVN, the Commission urges general caution is exercised when using AVN's website or Facebook page to research vaccination and to consult other reliable sources, including speaking to a medical practitioner, to make an informed decision.
The Commission has recommended that AVN amend its published information with regard to the above issues and the Commission will monitor the implementation of these recommendations.
And did the AVN have something to say? Of course it did. And was the response truthful? Don't ask silly questions. You can read it in all its glory here, and here is my analysis using the traditional yellow highlighter to mark "inaccuracies". My comments are in italics.
HCCC Once Again Shown to be Incompetent and Arrogant
May 1, 2014
In a move that displays the worst of medical politics, the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) has once again issued a public warning against the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc. (AVN). This office and the way in which they have carried out their "investigation" are an absolute disgrace. They have made themselves into a laughing stock. Far worse, they have clearly demonstrated that nobody can have faith in any statements made by this government body when they continue to rely upon verifiably incorrect and biased information.
The HCCC is far from a laughing stock, the investigation was undertaken very carefully (they didn't want to end up in court again), and the information they relied on came largely from the AVN's own web sites, statements, and publications.
Several years ago, the HCCC conducted a year-long "investigation" into our citizen-run healthcare consumer watchdog group. They did this at the behest of the Australian Skeptics and their splinter group, Stop the AVN - organisations with close ties to pharmaceutical and mainstream medical interests.
I have no idea why "citizen-run" should be an issue. The people who manufacture and distribute methamphetamine are citizens and presumably run their organisations. The claim that they are a "healthcare consumer watchdog group" is precisely the thing that the HCCC has found them not to be, so saying it again doesn't change the facts.
I don't know how many times Ms Dorey needs to be told, but there is no relationship between Australian Skeptics Inc and the Stop the AVN Facebook page other than some commonality of membership. Australian Skeptics had nothing to do with setting up Stop the AVN, and the fact that Stop the AVN was given the Skeptic Of The Year award in 2010 is evidence, as the rules explicitly preclude the award going to any related organisation or individual.
As for the ties to Big Pharma, Ms Dorey might like to make sure that she has some evidence of this, because while the committee of Australian Skeptics might include a nurse and a medical researcher it also contains two lawyers.
Despite strong evidence that they lacked the jurisdiction to either investigate or cite our organisation, the HCCC did both. The AVN took the matter to the Supreme Court where justice was served by the AVN's win. The HCCC was found to have acted illegally and both their investigation and public warning were thrown out. Costs were awarded to the AVN.
The HCCC certainly did have jurisdiction, and the judge made this quite clear in her ruling. The AVN's "win" was due to a technicality (since corrected by legislation). Nobody acted illegally, and the public warning was withdrawn voluntarily. Which is why they were very careful with the new warning.
Within weeks of their loss, the HCCC sought and were given unprecedented new powers specifically to 'get' the AVN. These powers enabled them to file their own complaint against the AVN, investigate and then, pass judgement without any oversight.
The law was changed to reflect the fact that as it stood it was out of date with current conditions. It was not changed to target the AVN specifically, but to give the HCCC the power that everyone thought it already had to investigate complaints about health care providers. Laws are changed all the time as society's expectations and knowledge change - you could once use asbestos to insulate pipes, now you can't; cigarettes once came in colourful packaging and could be advertised anywhere, now they can't; when I took my driving test I had to use hand signals to indicate stopping or turning, now it is illegal to have any part of your body outside a moving vehicle.
Our group has done everything within its power to work cooperatively with Alana McKaysmith (the investigator), Tony Kofkin (Director of Investigations), and Kieran Pehm (the Commissioner). For all this time, the department not only ignored most of our submissions - they also refused to answer questions or provide documentary evidence for their claims, many of which were either demonstrably or intentionally incorrect.
I have seen the submissions (they were published on the AVN's blog) and it is little wonder that the HCCC didn't take much notice. You do not present a convincing argument when you issue ultimatums and deadlines to public servants, especially if your submissions are simply long-winded repetitions of "we are right, you are wrong, nya, nya, ..."
We encourage you read the HCCC's original correspondence as well as our submissions at this link . We invite you to consider the serious implications of government departments and public officials who behave as though they are above the law and allow themselves to become tools for corporate financial interests instead of supporting the tax-paying public as is their stated mission.
It is a dangerous thing to claim that public officials are corrupt. If there is evidence of this then it is relatively easy to make submissions to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Of course, if the claims are found to be baseless the public officials might have recourse to the courts to seek damages for defamation.
The AVN calls on the Government of NSW to explain why an investigation, using taxpayer funds, was carried out in such an incompetent and unfair manner. We would like to ask how a body like the HCCC, which is supposed to protect the health of the citizens of this State, can openly abuse their privileged position in order to conduct a vendetta against a legally constituted citizen-run support group.
More accusations of bias and corruption, so even more reason to go to ICAC. Also, being "legally constituted" is no protection against government action for acting badly. The Office of Fair Trading, who did a lot of the pushing to get the AVN to change its deceptive name, spends much of its time and resources investigating legally constituted organisations, as does the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and there is nothing to stop the HCCC taking action against incorporated medical practices (something which I'm sure Ms Dorey would applaud).
I get mail (31/5/2014)
I received a very nice letter from Troy Grant MP, my state's Minister for Hospitality, Gaming and Racing. It says:
Thank you for your letter and material of 31 March 2014 to the former Minister George Souris MP concerning fund raising activities conducted by the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network. I am pleased to be able to respond in my capacity as the newly appointed Minister.
I have requested the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing conduct an investigation into the matters raised in your complaint and am advised that this is currently underway.
The Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing will write to you directly at the conclusion of the investigation and provide you with any findings on the matter. Thank you for your interest in this matter.
Should you require further information, Mr XXXXX, Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, can be contacted on 99 9999 9999 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Troy Grant MP
I published the letter on Facebook (with the contact details of the public servant blacked out, of course - he doesn't need harassment for just doing his job). I was asked why I didn't redact my address. I posted this in reply:
People have questioned the wisdom of revealing my address.
My address has been public for some time. It was published as part of the AVO documentation, and in any case I'm in the electoral roll and it's no secret I live in the Blue Mountains so anyone with the research skills of a typical PhD anti-vaxxer should have no trouble finding me. Also, my company is not a secret (Google will turn up my name on the work web site) and a search at ASIC will give the suburb.
Plus, I don't care if they know. I have a shredder for disposal of hate mail after I scan it and put it up on my site, and if people want to start turning up at my house they will soon see what AVOs were created for.
I've had the President of Scientology in the region turn up at my place for a chat about comments I'd made about CCHR, so I'm not going to be frightened by any of Meryl's flying monkeys. I've been threatened by experts.
Picture for the benefit of flying monkeys.
Shaken baby Vileness (31/5/2014)
Meryl Dorey, ex-President of the Australian Vacination-skeptics Network, spoke at a wooness expo last weekend. A "debate" with her was scheduled but had to be cancelled. She claimed nobody would "debate" her, and when I offered she went Full Mental Jacket on Facebook and her blog, calling me all sorts of names. In the end it became logistically impossible for me to attend as I had commitments on both the days before and after, and getting from my place to the venue and back on the one day would have taken almost 23 hours (I live three hours from Sydney airport, for a start). This meant that she was free to produce her normal stream of lies. I'll have more to say about this next week, but for now I'll just mention that she again brought up the disgusting lies about vaccines causing Shaken Baby Syndrome and containing parts of aborted foetuses. (In answer to a question, she suggested that the products of abortion are sold to vaccine manufacturers to use as an ingredient. Apart from the obvious insanity of this idea, she knows it's not true).
Anti-vaxxers celebrate (30/8/2014)
Because people showed concern when I announced that I had been injured, I published a photograph on Facebook showing what my face looked like. It took almost no time for this to appear.
The thing posting it, "No Vaccines Australia", is of course anonymous, and it was posted in a forum where I am banned from responding. (Note: Jo, Meleese, and Fiona are real-life friends of mine.) Why I should be "Not so Skeptic now" is a mystery, and when asked why it had posted this idiocy it replied "Because I'm a fun guy".
This is a perfect example of the respect that anti-vaccination liars have for anyone who doesn't subscribe to their insane agenda. They don't care how many children die from preventable diseases, or how many are disabled by the diseases, they don't care if their children infect others, they don't care how many women die from cervical cancer, they don't care about people lying in order to get government benefits to which they are not entitled, they don't care how many people they might offend by comparing vaccine researchers to psychopaths like Mengele (yes, Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination(-skeptics) Network did that just this week). Why should anyone be surprised that they think someone being injured is a joke?
And in case you think I'm exaggerating about the Mengele comparison, that nobody could be that insensitive -
The words quoted were written in 1967 and refer to research done years before that. It is because of this attitude that the ethical boundaries around clinical trials are much stronger now than they were five decades ago. But why would you expect anti-vaccination liars to recognise that anything has changed? And remember that they are constantly clamouring for vaccines to be tested in double-blinded placebo controlled trials, where all subjects would be exposed to infectious disease but only some would be given the real vaccine. If they are going to quote Rivers but want vaccines tested to the standards of the Tuskegee and Guatemala syphilis trials it simply indicates the extent of the hypocrisy that they apply to their attitude towards human life.
The more I see of anti-vaccination liars, the more I'm convinced that they want to see more dead children. And people who think like that should be locked away for the protection of society.
And some more good news (22/11/2014)
The Parliament of New South Wales set up a Committee On The Health Care Complaints Commission, and they have issued a report headed "The promotion of false and misleading health-related information and practices". Some of my good friends contributed submissions to the committee (I didn't submit anything because I felt it was being said well and often by others.)
I'm not going to provide a full analysis of the report right now because there is quite a lot to read and quite a lot to absorb. I will however point you towards Chapter 2 which deals largely with the Australian Vaccination (-ceptics) Network, Australia's premier source of anti-vaccination lies.
It has taken many years and a lot of lobbying and campaigning to get the government to finally start doing something about the quacks who prey on the sick and concerned (but scientifically uninformed) members of the public. The last time a committee like this was set up in NSW it was ridiculed and denigrated by the alternative "medicine" industry, and finally hijacked by getting representatives of the industry onto the committee (one such committee member worked for a company which had been prosecuted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission). I can only hope that the results of this inquiry produce better results and make the state safer for its residents.
Recycled sewage (2/5/2015)
In 2011, Meryl Dorey, then President of the Australian Vaccination Network, likened vaccination to "rape of a child".
Court orders rape of a child. Think this is an exaggeration? Think again. This is assault without consent and with full penetration too. If we as a society allow this crime to take place, we are every bit as guilty as the judge who made the order and the doctor who carries it out If anyone knows this family, please put them in touch with me - 99 9999 9999 - I would like to see if there is anything the AVN can do. MD
When challenged on this obscenity, she offered the following reply:
To anyone who was insulted or hurt by my comparing the forced vaccination of a child against the custodial parent's wishes with rape, I do apologise wholeheartedly and without reservation.
I looked up the definition of rape prior to posting that comparison and in the dictionary sense of the word, it is accurate. But I do understand that this is a vexed issue and for those like the two who are dose to me and who have been victims of rape, the last thing I would want to do is cause them more pain.
Perhaps the term violation would have been better and in future, I will use that word. Because this mother and her child are being violated In so many ways if s hard to know where to start
Just before she tried to get a court to silence me in 2012 she exploited a suicide attempt by a minor celebrity who had been having a hard time on Twitter.
No Mary Jane Healey - I will not stop using the word rape if it fits the sentence. And it did in this case. I was talking about how victims are blamed instead of the blame being placed on the perpetrator which is exactly what happens with many rape victims and I know this to be the case. If you are not happy with my use of the word in this sentence, I'm sorry you feel that way but I will not change the words and I do not feel that my use of them is in any way inappropriate. MD
If you thought that you would never hear anything as offensive again from the anti-vaccination liar community you seriously underestimated their venality. This graphic appeared on the AVN's Facebook page a few days ago.
The President pro tem of the AVN immediately denied responsibility and claimed that the Facebook page had nothing to do with the AVN, that the offensive image had been posted by someone with no connection with the organisation, and that she didn't know who the administrators of the page were so she couldn't ask them to remove it. It is only a minor thing that the "About" page for the main Facebook page says:
That's a familiar web site address. And "Benjamin Rush" with the gmail address who apparently owns the page? Nobody has ever managed to find him or engage him in conversation. Possibly because he died in 1813. The image was grabbed by the disgusting "Dr" Sherri Tenpenny and published on her Facebook page, but we have always known that these vile creatures always offer mutual support to each other.
One good thing to come out of this is that the image was picked up by responsible media outlets around the world and used to demonstrate the depths to which anti-vaccination liars will descend to further their perverted agenda.
I don't think that the adverse publicity will affect them though. Their lies are immortal. While reshelving my book collection after the move I had to find a place for a book co-written by Meryl Dorey in 1998 which contains most if not all of the lies that they tell today. Luckily I had some antiseptic handwash available after I touched the thing, because I would have felt less queasy picking up a turd.
Here's another example from the past from when Edward Jenner was preventing smallpox by using cowpox. There was never any possibility that the vaccine could cause people to erupt in cow parts, but any lie is good enough. Some things never change.
AVN! Stopped! (23/5/2015)
The impetus for starting this site in 1999 was that I found a group of child killers called the Vaccination Awareness Network had changed its name to the much more inoffensive and deceptive Australian Vaccination Network. For the next decade I battled along by myself fighting this organisation, and then Facebook happened. In 2009, appalled by vicious attacks by the AVN and its supporters on the parents of a child who had died of whooping cough, my friend Daniel Raffaele created a Facebook group called "Stop the AVN". This brought together a large number of people with diverse skills and backgrounds who committed themselves to driving this vile organisation into the ground.
It now looks like we have succeeded, and all that is left is for a priest to perform the Last Rites and for dirt to be shovelled into the grave on top of the coffin.
We've had some success over recent years in forcing a change to a less deceptive name and having the AVN's deceitful charity status revoked. Prominent figures in the organisation seem to have disappeared (generally by having their real names hidden behind sock puppets). Now, however, it looks like the implosion is almost complete. This is the current situation:
The following piece of drivel appears prominently on the AVN's web site:
No, the debate is polarising because one side uses science and the other just makes up lies. There might be doubt, but there is no reasonable doubt.
It makes me feel so good that I think I have to say it again. In big letters.
When anti-vaccination liars go mad 1 (27/4/2019)
Some people will believe anything if it supports their insane agenda. A satirical web site publishes a joke about how the authorities are going to use dart guns to vaccinate children and it gets lapped up by people who don't understand the joke because it's just the sort of nonsense they believe. Strangely, this was so transparent that even some of the craziest anti-vaxxers were a bit skeptical. But only a bit. Can't have too much (any?) dissent in the ranks, you know.
When anti-vaccination liars go mad 2 (27/4/2019)
With measles breaking out all over the place, President Trump has come down in support of vaccination. While this might be the only sane utterance to come out of Trump's mouth since 1963 it has been jumped on by the anti-vaxxers. Focus has been placed on his use of the word "shot". As it is singular it can only be a code for a gunshot, and shows that Trump is only saying this because he is afraid of being assassinated by Big Pharma and its allies.
How strange and terrifying it must be to live in the parallel universe inhabited by anti-vaccination liars and other conspiracists, where nothing is as it seems and everything must be feared.
A free video you can pay for. Or a paid video for free. You choose. (29/6/2019)
The woefully still existing Australian Vaccine Risks Network (the latest name) is planning on hosting a film night. The cost of entry is about $17 and you will get to see Robert F Kennedy tell lies, sorry, reveal the truth about the HPV vaccine. To save you money, here is the film for free. I make no apology for the sound quality, but I do like the way that in the introduction there is mention of two articles that Kennedy wrote for Rolling Stone and Salon (actually one article published twice). What the speaker conveniently forgot to mention is that both publications withdrew the article because the number of lies in it reflected badly on their journalistic integrity and reputations.
Public warning posters 1918 (left), 1939 (centre) and 1941 (right). Photos: Wikimedia Commons
Stop it! Please! (13/7/2019)
Just when we thought that the media had finally become aware of the problem of false balance (where both sides of every story must be presented even if one of them is nonsense) my Facebook feed and email inbox caught fire with a perfect example. A quite reasonable article in a small-circulation local paper promoted vaccination under the headline "Just get the jab". Everything was going well until the following paragraphs appeared:
Founder of the Australian Vaccination-risks Network, Meryl Dorey disagrees with NSW Health's efforts and believes that flu vaccinations are both ineffective and “reactive”. Ms Dorey referenced the 2009 case of Saba Button, a Western Australian child who successfully sued the state government after becoming severely disabled from receiving a flu jab.
“The flu vaccine has been used since the late 1970's and since that time it has been shown to not only be incredibly ineffective but also incredibly reactive,” she said. “In 2009 an experimental flu vaccine was pushed by the government in Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria in the lead-up to the so-called swine flu epidemic, which never occurred. One child sued the government successfully because she is now permanently disabled as a result of the flu vaccine.
“When people vaccinate, they do so because they think that the vaccine is going to prevent a disease and keep them healthy. The flu vaccine has shown that it does not prevent flu, in fact flu like symptoms are one of the most common side-effects reported after the vaccine and it doesn't keep you healthy because it can cause life-long disability and even death.”
Hypocrisy 1 (5/10/2019)
Meryl Dorey, once president of the Australian Vaccination Network but now just the puppet master behind the curtain, decided to have a go at people who claim that professional anti-vaccination liars are in it for the money.
The little fact that the AVN has collected about $2 million over the years to pay for overseas trips and other essential activities related to lying about vaccines seems to have slipped her mind (I use the word "mind" loosely here). That figure is what people were able to ascertain from the annual reports submitted (usually very late) to the government body charged with the oversight of non-profit associations. More has come in since a change in the law has meant that only income over $250,000 a year has to be declared in any detail but we will never know how much.
To show another example of her hypocrisy, here's an email from 1999 posted to the AVN's mailing list (from which I was banned).
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 05:53:46 +1000
From: "Meryl Dorey"
Subject: RE: Anti-vaccination Liars webpage
You're right Heidi (and I love the name of the page - vaxquax :-) Not only that, but he has given me the links to a lot of pro-choice sites that are missing on the AVN web site so he's done my research for me. I am very proud that the AVN site is at the top - we must be doing something right (of course, it's alphabetical too ;-).
Thanks for pointing this site out Jan - I don't really think there is much point in corresponding with the person who has done this - they are on somebody's payroll (or payrolls) - but we are in very good company and like Heidi says - anyone who goes to this page will get some great resources to choose from for information.
There is reason to believe that this is the first detected example of the Pharma Shill Gambit in the wild. So it's perfectly acceptable to accuse me of being "on somebody's payroll (or payrolls)" without any evidence but evidence of a lot of income can be ignored when it applies to her and her cohort of liars.
Two million dollars and counting but they "don't make a cent". Actually I suppose that last statement is true, because the make a lot more than "a" cent.
Hypocrisy 2 (5/10/2019)
According to Wikipedia, Dr Richard Pan is a Democratic California state senator representing California's 6th Senate district. He is also a practicing pediatrician. Prior to being elected to the State Senate in 2014, he was a member of the California State Assembly. Dr Pan was born to immigrant parents from Taiwan.
Dr Pan is a target of hatred by anti-vaccination liars because he initiated and pushed through legislation limiting the ability of parents to lie in order to avoid having their children vaccinated. As anyone who has observed the liar species knows, anyone who opposes them must be vilified, demonised and generally abused. Here's something Meryl Dorey thought was an appropriate comment to make about Dr Pan.
And did her followers criticise her for this or think that suggesting murder was going a bit far? Don't be silly.
I should point out that even as an atheist I'm offended by this appropriation of Jesus to the anti-vaccination agenda, but since when have principles or sensitivity to the thoughts and beliefs of others ever mattered to this vile collection of creatures. The end always justifies the means. As she is supposedly a practising member of the Jewish faith, I wonder if Ms Dorey might like to discuss the image and its connotation with her Rabbi. But what would he know anyway? He probably allows his children to be vaccinated.
And where does the real hypocrisy come in? Dorey seems to think it's acceptable to threaten a vaccine proponent with death but she wasted a year of my time and wreaked enormous and permanent damage to my personal and family life because I told her to leave my family out of her campaign against me and she thought this threat was enough to involve the courts.
I never use bad language on the front page of this site so I will just have to ask someone else to tell Meryl Dorey to fuck off whenever she's ready.
And theft (5/10/2019)
Meryl Dorey has been producing series of videos using the title "Under The Wire". These videos aren't at YouTube but are hosted on a site owned by the disgusting Mike Adams of Natural News infamy (you know those old clichés about being known by the company you keep and lying down with flea-ridden dogs?). Sadly for her (but a cause of amusement to the rest of us) not enough people have been clicking on the "Play now" links and Adams threatened to remove the series, but now everything seems to be back in line and the videos can stay. (I helped by starting to view one. I was counted even though I stopped watching after a few seconds. I'd just had lunch and didn't want to regurgitate my sandwiches over the keyboard, although I do keep a spare keyboard handy following earlier experiences.)
Here is the image used to promote the video series. As Ms Dorey has form for stealing other people's work I thought I'd see who actually owned it. (I once tipped Dorey into Getty Images for using one of their pictures without the required accreditation, and the AVN was caught stealing for profit in 2010. She has form.)
The image was tracked down to a photograph collection made by Patrick Hendry, so I wrote to him.
I thought that you might like to know that a group of anti-vaccination liars are using what looks like one of your photos as the masthead for a series of videos. I assume they haven't asked permission. I know that I had to report the same people for using a copyrighted photo from Getty Images once before so they have form.
Ugh, yeah that’s one of the down sides of free photography. Unfortunately they can use this all they want. The only way I can pull images down is if they’re adding them to products for sale. I cannot do much about this one.
Thanks for the heads up.
Mr Hendry was caught in that same dilemma that faces anyone who puts material up on the web. There's not a lot you can do without a lot of expense. All my stuff is copyrighted with Creative Commons but if some low life steals it all I can really do is publicise the theft. Stealers still gonna steal.
And another scam continues on its merry way (12/10/2019)
The frequently renamed Australian Vaccination-risks Network is at it again (they seem to change names about as often as they pretend to change presidents). They are holding another event where people are expected to pay to see a liar lying in a video that can be seen for free, and again they are hiding the venue until the last minute. The purported reason for the secrecy is to prevent harassment and disruption from pro-vaccine people, but the real reason is to stop sane people notifying the venue of the real nature of the event. When they were promoting another pay-to-see-a-YouTube-video they managed to lie their way into schools and public halls, seriously upsetting people like headmasters and council officials. But lying is what liars do.
And you can see it for free too if you have a spare hour to waste and a bucket handy to catch the vomit (and are prepared to risk damage to your esophagus from all that acid coming up). Just go here.
Something you might not know (12/10/2019)
Did you know that October is not only Breast Cancer Awareness Month (something ridiculed by believers in magic "medicine") but it's also "Vaccine Injury Awareness month in honour of lives taken or forever altered by vaccination"?
Now out here in the real world we know that severe reactions to vaccines are so rare that when they happen they make big news. There have been no deaths caused by vaccines in Australia for as long as anyone can remember, and the only recent serious reaction was from a young child who was mistakenly given an adult vaccine. The rules about which vaccines could be given to which children were strengthened and the family received much sympathy and even some monetary compensation.
Of course none of this matters to those evil creatures who want to see medieval diseases return and harm or kill children (and by opposition to HPV and flu vaccines cause harm to adults as well). As to them the end (more dead and diseased children) justifies the means (lying as if there's no tomorrow) it's business as usual for the merchants of death. Apparently there will be vigils across Australia to remind people about these non-existent vaccine injuries, and no doubt there will be collection tins rattled to raise some cash. You can see the list of events here.
I must say though that like Homeopathy Awareness Week where people can be made aware of the fraud of selling magic water or Subluxation Awareness Month when people can be made aware of the dangers of letting chiropractors anywhere near their backs, Vaccine Injury Awareness Month could be useful to educate the public about how such injuries are really nothing to worry about and therefore get hesitant parents to do the right thing and have their children protected from diseases.