Australian Vaccination Network: Consumer Protection Investigates

Meryl Dorey has done it again. Found her way onto the files of yet another government body.

Cathy O’Leary of The West Australian reported yesterday:

Consumer Protection is investigating whether an anti-vaccination group breached charity laws by seeking donations at a series of meetings in WA in the past two weeks.

The NSW-based Australian Vaccination Network held public forums in Perth, Busselton, Jurien Bay and Geraldton, charging $15 and giving out brochures asking people to donate to the group. Last year, it was stripped of its charity status by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing because of fundraising irregularities and it was ordered not to carry out public appeals in that State.

Here’s a copy of the donation form circulated in Perth.

AVN donation flyer

So why would Consumer Protection (apart from the obvious) be interested? As you may well know on October 14th, 2010 just past high noon the NSW OLGR revoked the AVN’s Charity Licence. They had discerned that… well, let’s have Meryl tell the tale:

Media Release heading - from AVN on OLGR decision

Approximately 2 hours ago, I received a notification from the OLGR that they would, effective Wednesday, October 20th, be revoking the AVN’s charitable status. They have sent me a letter listing the reasons for this revocation (those reasons are reproduced below) and also the announcement that is being Gazetted today.

(a) that any fundraising appeal conducted by the holder of the authority has not been conducted in good faith for charitable purposes

The Organisation has failed to publish a disclaimer on its website as recommended by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC). This has resulted in an unacceptable risk of potential donors to the Organisation being misled when making a decision whether or not to make a donation, which has led to appeals not being conducted in good faith.

(c) that any fundraising appeal conducted by virtue of the authority has been improperly administered

The Organisation’s website is misleading in that it may lead people making donations to believe that they are donating to a cause which promotes vaccination whereas the Organisation adopts an anti-vaccination position. When requested by the HCCC to publish a disclaimer on its website the Organisation failed to do so.

(f) in the public interest, the authority should be revoked.

The failure of the Organisation to comply with the HCCC recommendation resulted in the Commission publishing a Public Warning on 26 July 2010 advising that this failure “poses a risk to public health and safety”. In this circumstance it is in the public interest to not permit the Organisation to conduct fund raising appeals under the Act.

Pretty straight forward right? Wrong. In fact there were 23 various breaches under the clauses, sections and conditions of the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991. You may ask yourself why has Meryl only proffered a, c and f above. The reason becomes readily clear. Dorey seeks to maintain the “not under HCCC jurisdiction” theme.

In effect, as you can’t see above the OLGR decision is based upon far more damning evidence. Never one to let facts intrude upon reality Meryl moves the cups about the table and turns three points into a bogus “entire” decision:

As you can see, the OLGR based their entire decision on the HCCC’s demand for us to declare ourselves as being anti-vaccine and putting their disclaimer on our website – two things which we refused to do (they say we failed to do it – there was no failure involved – this was a deliberate move on our part to defend our freedom of communication). Indeed, instead of changing our current disclaimer to what the HCCC requested, we issued this statement – explaining why the HCCC was wrong and any moves to suppress the AVN were anti-democratic.

Riiiiight. A department of Trade and Investment NSW based their “entire decision” on the Health Care Complaints Commission’s findings. No wonder they can be dispensed with in just two short paragraphs. But wait! That last sentence is rather bold is it not?

What possible “statement” could explain why the HCCC was wrong, suppressive and anti-democratic? That can now be swung around the turret and aimed squarely at the OLGR? Why, it’s none other than the Debating Vaccination article that sells for $5:00 in the AVN Shop dear reader.

Even though it’s available for free via the above link and had also been emailed to members on August 12th, 2010 under the heading Read It In Advance, including a link to Dr. Brian Martin’s own URL. The URL I used when comparing all the free stuff Dorey sells for profit. No doubt because she’s so charitable and all. So deserving of a charitable fundraising licence.

The very “statement” that’s available in many areas for free but sold by AVN will defeat criticism and revocation of their charitable status and authority to fundraise respectively.

It’s all so clear now. A rambling piece of incoherent, self-serving, post modernist waffle that goes as far as claiming scientific fact is subjective truth, and as such, the door to conspiracy central is legitimately open because it’s mere dissent. Written by an erstwhile physicist, antivaccination supporter and Judy Wilyman – PhD hopeful – supervisor. Clearly it just steam rolls two government departments, then. It contains:

There is no rulebook, called the scientific method, that scientists follow. They do not necessarily use the approach of verification, namely finding evidence that supports current ideas, though there is plenty of this. Nor do they commonly use falsification, namely trying to disprove prevailing ideas, though they sometimes do this.

In other words (helping us understand why he might no longer be practicing physics) Brian Martin argues science is about biased verification and rejection of valid falsification. It’s about “prevailing ideas”, not following “the scientific method”. With this marked misunderstanding of the world he lives in, it is thus quite logical to deny vaccine efficacy, and exhume all the fallacies health authorities have patiently put to rest.

Surely there was more to the OLGR decision. The HCCC acted in consonance with dark forces, Dorey claimed. What of this decision? She further wrote (I’ve helped with striking out the long exposed lies), after blaming “active members of the organisation, Stop the AVN”:

14/10/2010 – For Immediate Release:

For over two years, the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), a national volunteer-run health lobby and support group, has been under attack. Our message of individual informed health choice conflicts with the government’s policy which is pro-mass vaccination. Part of this attack has included complaints to the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR), the body that oversees charities.

Earlier this year, the OLGR audited the AVN. It found several errors with our bookeeping (sic) system and some minor problems with the way in which we accounted for fundraising income. The OLGR openly stated that there was no evidence of fraud or criminality. Despite this, it has announced that the AVN’s authority to fundraise is being revoked.

“Had the OLGR based its decision upon the simple errors which were found during our audit – errors which any small, volunteer-run organisation can and does make – it would have been unfair but not unexpected.” says Meryl Dorey, media spokesperson for the AVN. “What makes this decision difficult to understand is that the revocation was based solely upon a questionable decision by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) which we believe is not relevant to the OLGR’s mandate.”

The campaign to shut down the AVN has included:

  1. Attacks and threats against our advertisers, members and professional supporters.
  2. Death threats against  committee members.
  3. Hate mail.
  4. Abusive phone calls and emails.
  5. Numerous vexatious complaints against (sic) to various government agencies.

In a democracy, it is always in the public’s interest to allow citizens access to full and accurate information on all issues so they will be empowered to make their own decision. The OLGR’s statement that rescinding the AVN’s charitable status is in the public’s interest seems to confuse the Australian public with the Australian medical industry.

In a true democracy, the government should be defending its policies in the court of public opinion – not by abusing its power by suppressing legitimate dissent.

As you can now see the entire “release” is false as the revocation of authority and a number of events this year reinforce. It is quite right and proper for the OLGR to note the HCCC’s ruling that Dorey misleads the public and as such donors are duped, appeals are in effect scams and money made via fund raising sustains an ongoing “risk to public health”.

It is very easy to grasp. Yet Dorey is asking that members believe that the OLGR found bookkeeping errors “and some minor problems”, then for the persecutory reasons rattled off time and again revoked their licence. In truth fraud and deception was common. That citizens now held her to account was completely her own doing.

Ridiculously the theme of “suppressing dissent” had taken firm hold. It goes without saying that the AVN has for 17 and more years run a lying, scamming, money grubbing campaign of fear and misinformation that far from expressing dissent has led to wide spread ignorance and genuine community health challenges. As for threats and harassment it is grieving parents, volunteers, busy journalists and Michael Wooldridge who can cite actual intimidation.

Dorey used the intervening week to beg for new members (who could legally continue to donate) and money. Her state of mind then further deteriorated as she herself expanded upon and acted out the themes of threats, oppression and dark forces. Her paranoia and flight from reality is captured in an email to members only a month later on November 15th. It included:

Warning To Chiropractors

Members of the organisation that is trying to stop the AVN have made threats to send mock patients to any chiropractic office where the practitioner has a history of providing information to their clients on vaccination. The idea is that they can then report the chiropractor to the chiropractic registration board.

Be on guard for hidden cameras and microphones. [….] Similar things have been happening with naturopaths for some time now. Yet more evidence that we need to stick together and support each other.

In truth it is great news for public health that Consumer Protection W.A. has taken this initiative. Western Australia was to be Dorey’s great revival tour. After the CSL Fluvax scare the entire state waited for their anti-vax Messiah… didn’t they? Surely this was to be her vindication where all the oppressors would be proven wrong.

Yet the fact is in well over a year Meryl Dorey has made not one compliant twitch. Apart from the odd calculated wave to appear deceptively bipartisan her conduct has remained unchanged from that outlined above. Combative, paranoid, proud, arrogant and unrepentant. Meryl Dorey and her AVN remain a threat to public health. It doesn’t matter where they go the message is the same misinformation, leading to the same old grab for cash.

The public have a right to know and to be protected. Kudos to Consumer Protection.


5 thoughts on “Australian Vaccination Network: Consumer Protection Investigates

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