The Australian Vaccination Network in court

Today Meryl Dorey returned to the Supreme court NSW to resume her fight to overturn the NSW HCCC decision that the AVN should place warning notices that it provided anti-vaccination information on it’s website.

She was cross examined for 20 minutes and the court convened. She returns in another 2-3 months;

Dorey has claimed that the HCCC investigation was “illegal” as the AVN was outside HCCC jurisdiction being not a health care provider or health educator under the HCCC Act. Dorey also claims the investigation was flawed because it was not independent, but by a government organisation that “set out to support government policy which is pro-vaccination”.

Whilst still publically maintaining lack of jurisdiction to members today, referring her members to this denialist conspiracy rant, I understand that Dorey and the AVN are certainly within HCCC jurisdiction. The AVN conceded so in court on July 28th. Unseen developments aside this is likely to remain.

On July 26th, 2010 the HCCC published a public health warning following the AVN’s failure to post warnings that it was anti-vaccination. Prior to this the HCCC had investigated two complaints that the AVN provided false and misleading information. The HCCC concluded it’s investigation on July 12th and gave the AVN 14 days to publish the following on it’s website:

  • The Australian Vaccination Network’s purpose is to provide information against vaccination in order to balance what it believes is the substantial amount of pro-vaccination information available elsewhere;
  • The information provided should not be read as medical advice; and
  • The decision about whether or not to vaccinate should be made in consultation with a health care provider.

As you can see this is markedly more tame than the public health warning. There’s no mention of;

  • provides information that is solely anti-vaccination
  • contains information that is incorrect and misleading
  • quotes selectively from research to suggest that vaccination may be dangerous


… the AVN provides information that is inaccurate and misleading. The AVN’s failure to include a notice on its website of the nature recommended by the Commission may result in members of the public making improperly informed decisions about whether or not to vaccinate, and therefore poses a risk to public health and safety.

Meryl Dorey

So to spell out the obvious, most of what Meryl Dorey is railing against is by her own hand. All this effort to pretend she’s not anti-vaccination need never have been wasted. The hysteria over her being a risk to public health, quoting selectively from research, giving incorrect and misleading information leading to improperly informed decisions was all her own doing. I cannot stress that enough. The difference between what the HCCC requested and what Dorey created is huge.

Also her claim of not being under HCCC jurisdiction and not giving medical advice somewhat deconstructs itself by her refusal. By refusing to inform readers information shouldn’t be read as medical advice, we may infer that she believes it should. By refusing to support consultation with a health care provider she is in effect denying sound medical advice. Later ramblings about suppression of her right to free speech are as good as incomprehensible.

This initial decision was backed by Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr. John Carnie, speaking on ABC’s The World Today, July 13th, 2010:

Download audio. Transcript here.

On July 12th – HCCC announcement day – the AVN having metamorphosed into a watchdog popped out a cracker of media release from “media spokesperson”, Meryl Dorey: Vaccine Safety Watchdog to Fight Government Censorship;

Consumer advocacy and vaccine safety watchdog group, the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), has announced that it will be investigating all options in order to respond to the outrageous attack on free speech inherent in the recent allegations made against it by a NSW state authority, the Healthcare Complaints Commission (HCCC). The HCCC, in a report just released, has deemed the AVN to be a ‘healthcare provider’ and, in this capacity, stated that it has published ‘misleading and dangerous’ information on the risks of vaccination [….]

You can’t make this stuff up. Even members were baffled by her position. “But Meryl, we are anti-vaccination… just comply”, was a position expressed. Nonetheless, this gave birth to the “attack on free speech” lie that gradually drew in our friend with intellectual wanderlust, Dr. Brian Martin. Consider this taste of (if I may be so bold) a deluded and paranoid attempt at rationale, to mislead members. Pay particular attention to claims that the OLGR found no evidence of fraud. You know, like this missing $12,000 or even this other missing $12,000;

As you all would be aware, the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) illegally ‘investigated’ the AVN, and asked us to put a statement on our website to say, amongst other things, that we were anti-vaccine. We refused to do so and, as a result, they released a statement that we were providing deceptive and misleading information and were a danger to the public. The implications of this action are much further-reaching than the AVN as I will explain a bit further on.

This HCCC decision has been used by many other organisations and the media to defame and slander us – and why is that? Because we provide help and support to a sector of the Australian population that the government wishes didn’t exist – those who question authority, think for themselves and make health and wellness choices that go against the government’s and the medical community’s wishes. People like us should not exist as far as these bodies are concerned and they see the AVN as one of the ‘ringleaders’ if you will, of this sort of thinking. [….]

Right now, we are blocked at every turn because of this HCCC finding – and that was the whole idea behind this. Even the [OLGR] which openly admits that they found no evidence of fraud in the breaches they discovered in our operations – breaches of a purely administrational nature – have said that the HCCC findings will influence their final decision which is due out shortly.

And the HCCC had no jurisdiction to investigate us. Three lawyers, two barristers and a QC have all said this is the case. The HCCC acted outside their jurisdiction and outside the law.

It is certainly not the first time the HCCC has acted in an incorrect manner and this body, set up to protect the people of NSW from incompetent and dangerous doctors, seems to have a long history of being partial to the medical profession whilst coming down hammers and tongs against those in the natural health arena.

Speaking of the OLGR after this is over comes the appeal against the OLGR investigation and ministerial decision.

Dorey also dismisses the OLGR investigation and October 20th, 2010 revocation of their charitable fundraising status (authority to fundraise) by the Minister for Liquor, Gaming and Racing as “based on the HCCC decision”. [Letter here] More than anything, her conduct after this changed the view of Dorey as just an anti-vacccination crank and exposed the money making angle. Whilst not in the Sensaslim league, tactics are similar. Lie, feign outrage, produce confident media releases “clarifying” the egregious and erroneous mistakes of authorities, boast of confidence in being found not guilty and above all control the flow of information. Also simply inventing falsehoods and failing to deliver on legally obtained income such as magazine subscriptions.

Dorey also reported the OLGR audit findings as typical of any small, volunteer run organisation – size of donation tins, receipt giving and keeping of copies, etc – and had reported confidence that no fraud would be found. They also reported not having an auditor during the time they were found to be fundraising without a licence. During a rather delightful discovery it turned out the AVN had admitted having auditors over the time they told the OLGR that they did not. This was inadvertently admitted as part of a scam to raise money over a non existent advertisement.

In fact the OLGR found 17 breaches of the fundraising act including offences that carry fines and deliberate misleading of the public. Sadly penalties for charity fraud are quite lenient, which renders the creatures responsible as cowardly as they are reprehensible.

So, what of this line Dorey feeds over and again to her members and the media? The OLGR are flawed because they relied on the HCCC. Because of the deceptive nature of AVN website presentation – which led to the HCCC request – the OLGR also concluded individuals may donate in good faith and “noted the HCCC decision”. That’s where it ends. The OLGR in no way “based” it’s decision on the HCCC, but arguably had the AVN complied initially the OLGR may have ruled somewhat differently. Perhaps a suspension of authority, I really don’t know.

Either way, Dorey can only blame herself and her arrogance for the HCCC public notice. As for the OLGR decision, in light of the evidence, this thief, liar and scam artist who has also lived on the takings from her loyal if clearly misguided members has really already won so much. The fact she believes she can legitimately trade as a charity again and has been wronged tells us far more about the psychology of Meryl Dorey than about the dynamics of her crimes.

From an OLGR letter to Ken McLeod, October 18, 2010:

During the course of the inquiry evidence of possible breaches of the Charitable Trusts Act 1993 was detected in relation to the following specific purpose appeals conducted by AVN:

1. Fighting Fund – to support a homeless family, allegedly seeking to avoid a court order to immunise a child with legal and living expenses. The appeal ran for a short time in 2008 and raised $11,810. None of the funds were spent on this purpose.

2. Advertising Appeal – initially this was an appeal for the specific purpose of raising funds for an advertisement in the Australian commencing in March 2009 and concluding July 2009. The specific purpose was changed during the course of the appeal to fund advertisements in Child magazine. This appeal raised $11,910. None of the funds were applied to the specific purposes. It is noted that AVN did spend some $15,000 during the period December 2009 to July 2010 on various forms of advertising.

3. Bounty Bag Program and Vaccination Testing – for a number of years AVN has solicited for donations generally in a manner where, despite it not being AVN’s intention, one specific purpose was created in that donations could only be spent on one or more of four purposes, including funding the provision of AVN material in the Bounty Bag program and testing of vaccines. No funds raised have been spent on these two purposes.

The amount raised for the Bounty Bag scam and promises of independent vaccine testing is reportedly around $308,000 over 3 years and 8 months [page 13].

On top of that are numerous other scams based on the same technique one of which called for members to consider donating their Maternity Immunisation Allowance. This kicked off almost two months to the day after her first media release on the topic mentioned in item 1 above. Dorey claimed others were doing so, because without AVN lobbying to “ensure legislation” for the MIA and Childcare Allowance, they wouldn’t have it anyway. This is entirely bogus. Presently Dorey is calling for help to read the policy documents on the Healthy Kids Check. Yet somehow just can’t quite report the facts to her members.

Sound familiar?