Has the OLGR “verified” the HCCC Warning was “sole basis” for revocation of AVN fundraising authority?

I am not a lawyer…

One constant theme that Meryl Dorey has kept up since the OLGR revoked the AVN fund raising authority (the decision is under appeal) is that it was entirely due to the, now removed, HCCC warning.

On February 24th the NSW Supreme Court upheld the Australian Vaccination Network appeal against the HCCC. Justice Christine Adamson found that the HCCC acted ultra vires in conducting an investigation, publishing a public warning and ordering the AVN to post warning notices online alerting consumers that they are antivaccination.

In this case ultra vires, meaning beyond powers, was a technicality of acting outside jurisdiction. The HCCC was deemed to have done so under Section 7 of the HCC Act: What can a complaint be made about? It had not been sufficiently demonstrated to the court that Section 7(1)(b) – a health service which affects the clinical management or care of an individual client, applied to the AVN. Simply, the HCCC needed actual information that Joe or Jane Bloggs had not vaccinated because of the AVN, before it – the HCCC – could act.

So, how does this relate to the OLGR appeal?

The AVN wanted certiorari granted in relation to all HCCC findings. This would have rendered the HCCC findings null and void and legally the findings would be considered quashed. This is quite different to having been found to have acted outside jurisdiction as a result of those findings.

Dorey also submitted that the Minister for OLGR was obliged to take into account the Public Warning as part of his duty under the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991.

Juctice Adamson found on page 21 of the ruling [bold mine]:

The plaintiff argued that the Public Warning was, as a matter of practical reality, a matter that the Minister for Gaming was obliged to (and in fact did) take into account in determining whether to revoke the plaintiff’s authority to raise funds under the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991. When asked to identify the discernible legal right which was affected, counsel for the plaintiff said:

“The damage to its reputation by being labelled a public risk to health and safety.”

[The AVN] submitted that its rights were not only directly affected, but also altered, by the HCCC’s decision to issue the Public Warning and that certiorari is accordingly available. It argued that the decision directly exposed it to a new hazard of an adverse exercise of public power (having its fundraising capacity revoked).

However, the plaintiff could not point to any provision in the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991 that made the Public Warning a mandatory relevant consideration in the Minister’s decision whether to revoke the authority.

Accordingly there is no basis on which I could find that the Minister for Gaming is legally obliged to take into account the Public Warning. For these reasons, certiorari does not lie.

If certiorari does not lie the findings remain. The HCCC conclusions are not incorrect. The AVN has not been found to be acting in the public interest. The complaints have not been found to be without foundation. What happened was that the HCCC did not convince the court it could act further in exercising it’s powers based on the initial findings.

More so, implicit in the above wording, is the failure of the AVN to show that the HCCC Public Warning was taken into account by the Minister for Gaming on legal grounds. Nor is there any provision in the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991 to support the AVN contention that the Minister was obliged to take the Warning into account when revoking authority.

So in the case of AVN vs HCCC the Supreme Court made no order at all affecting the OLGR’s revocation of the licence to raise funds.

At this point the Public Warning carries no weight. The HCCC findings have not been quashed. Justice Adamson has rejected the AVN submission that the OLGR revoked the AVN’s authority to raise funds because of the Public Warning or their claim of an obligation to the Public Warning. Nonetheless the next day Meryl Dorey wrote on Facebook [bold mine]:

For those who have been asking about our chariity (sic) status, hopefully, I will have more information on that early next week. The HCCC decision did not automatically give us back the authority, but I am hopeful that we will get it back since the OLGR relied completely on the HCCC warning to revoke the authority. Therefore, since the warning was invalid, the revocation may be too. Anyway, I will let you know as soon as I have the information myself.

Yesterday writing in her Living Wisdom email of April 8th Meryl noted that whilst they would be reimbursed for expenses against the HCCC they would not be reimbursed for expenses against the OLGR [bold mine]:

… but hopefully, we will soon have our authority to fundraise reinstated since the OLGR have verified that the HCCC’s warning was the sole basis of that revocation. Now that the warning is no more (the HCCC removed it from their website the same day the decision was handed down), we should be granted a charity authority again.

Interesting. There was a Directions Hearing for the appeal on March 27th. I can’t be sure but it strikes me as unlikely the OLGR would “verify” that a defunct warning was the sole basis of the licence revocation at a Directions Hearing. What else has the OLGR said?

On their website they announced the revocation in 2010:

Minister for Gaming and Racing, the Hon Kevin Greene MP, has revoked the fundraising authority formerly held by the Australian Vaccination Network Inc (AVN).

An investigation by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, a division of Communities NSW, found that AVN had breached charitable fundraising laws and potentially misled the public. […]

The OLGR investigation also took into account the findings of the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) which established that the website operated by AVN provided information that was solely anti-vaccination as well as information that was incorrect and misleading.

The HCCC has published a public warning stating that AVN’s failure to post a disclaimer on its website may result in members of the public making improperly informed decisions about whether or not to vaccinate posing a potential risk to public health and safety.

This fairly clearly states that the OLGR investigation found the AVN breached charitable fundraising laws and also took into account the HCCC findings. These findings have not been quashed. They note the HCCC public warning and the risk to public health and safety.

If they also took the HCCC findings into account then there would be other factors at play. Indeed their findings included breaches of the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991 that are of no business to the HCCC:

Under Section 31 of The Charitable Fundraising Act 1991 the reasons for revocation can be found. In fairness to Meryl we should consider what may be the reason for her insistence that the HCCC Warning influenced the revocation. On October 14th 2010 Meryl published this via email to members:

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.

This is an accurate account of the OLGR correspondence as reproduced elsewhere.

I can understand concerns about section (f) which, worded that way, appears to rely only on the HCCC Public Warning. Section (c) appears quite valid when stripped of reference to the HCCC. Furthermore the OLGR cited HCCC findings in conducting their investigation, and these findings have not been quashed. Thus Section (a) and (f) derived from HCCC findings, not recommendations, would potentially still stand.

Nonetheless, in terms of the revocation (and only the revocation) these are the reasons listed by the OLGR. And they do carry an item by item reference to the HCCC, which in turn apparently gives credence to Ms. Dorey’s repeated claim. Given the number and type of breaches of the Act, the OLGR could seemingly have cited other aspects of Section 31.

Certainly when the matter reaches court the defence of Sections (a), (c) and (f) will become far more complex. To this we should add the judgement of Justice Christine Adamson as noted above. An attempt to set a precedent that the licence to raise funds was revoked only due to the HCCC Public Warning was rejected on interpretation of The Charitable Fundraising Act 1991.

All considered it’s a likely simplification to claim the revocation is based entirely on the HCCC Warning. We should remember the OLGR stated it “also” looked at HCCC findings in it’s statement of revocation. Although on examination I can understand Ms. Dorey’s penchant for doing so. After all it drives attention away from other aspects of the OLGR investigation.

The following is from an OLGR letter to Mr. Ken McLeod, October 18th, 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.

There is evidence that funds donated for the above specific purposes have been applied to other purposes including the running costs of AVN. Accordingly these matters have been referred to the Department of Justice and Attorney General, the Department that administers and regulates the Charitable Trusts Act 1993

In answer to that question I do not know if the OLGR did base it’s revocation entirely on the HCCC recommendations, nor whether or not it has verified anything of late. I do know one Supreme Court judge has rejected this notion on legal terms and I conclude there are many more valid reasons as to why the AVN should never be allowed to raise funds as a charity.

For an excellent and well laid out article I recommend visiting reasonablehank‘s consideration of exactly the same question.

I do hope however that when this matter gets to court the OLGR brings forth the bulk of their findings and uses them to prevent the revocation being overturned.

The AVN is anything but a charity.

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The significance of Meryl Dorey’s insignificance

Yesterday I hinted at the cost to the AVN of Justice Christine Adamson’s ruling in favour of their appeal against the HCCC.

Whilst I postulated on what the HCCC could have done to ensure that the appeal was tossed out, the fact remains that Meryl Dorey – “Australia’s foremost expert on vaccination” – has to accept that she has (Ed: in respect of this ruling, arguably) been found to influence no-one. I’m sure being legally insignificant is not the pivotal aspect of the ruling Dorey will recount to members, unless she is grasping to deny the “anti-vaccine” label.

Within hours distortions began flowing to members on Facebook:

… I  am just so pleased that the Supreme Court agreed with our original contention that the HCCC had no jurisdiction to investigate us based on the complaints which were not valid complaints according to the HCC Act. Justice DOES work sometimes.

Not strictly true. A major part of the original contention was that the HCCC acted outside jurisdiction because the AVN was not a Health Service Provider.

By Saturday the deception was tangible. Meryl Dorey posted:

For those who have been asking about our chariity (sic) status, hopefully, I will have more information on that early next week. The HCCC decision did not automatically give us back the authority, but I am hopeful that we will get it back since the OLGR relied completely on the HCCC warning to revoke the authority. Therefore, since the warning was invalid, the revocation may be too. Anyway, I will let you know as soon as I have the information myself.
MD

I’m not sure what game Dorey is playing here. She initially made this claim 16 months ago. There’s no doubt that she has constantly manipulated the flow of information to create the illusion that the OLGR revocation followed directly from, and was based upon the HCCC ruling. Initially in October 2010, Dorey emailed members citing only sections A, C and F of the notice she received from the OLGR and claimed:

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…

Strange, because as far I can see the HCCC cannot possibly have had anything to do with OLGR findings of :

  • Fundraising without an authority
  • Unauthorised expenditure
  • Failure to keep proper records of income
  • 23 breaches of the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991

On Saturday reasonablehank was quick to look for any substance and I recommend reading what is a complete demolition of this myth that the OLGR “relied completely on the HCCC”.

The holy grail of this HCCC appeal can be gleaned from Dorey’s erroneous claim. She wanted the OLGR decision overturned. But how? Certiorari is the legal term for an order given to set aside a decision. The decision is quashed and expunged from the record. Originally Dorey had named the Minister for Gaming and Racing as a second defendant. On July 5th, 2011 she discontinued proceedings against the Minister.

Dorey then sought to have the HCCC Investigation, Recommendation and Public Warning not only ruled as outside jurisdiction as per the HCC Act – ultra vires – but also sought certiorari to quash the HCCC determination to issue the warning. This would mean the decision was made unlawfully and not just outside jurisdiction as granted under the Act as it pertains to complaints. So what did the AVN put to Justice Adamson as unlawful? What rights had the HCCC abused? Adamson wrote:

When asked to identify the discernible legal right which was affected, counsel for the plaintiff said:

“The damage to its reputation by being labelled a public risk to health and safety.”

I realise it’s looking rather obvious but in plain speech this is where Dorey got to say, I’m not a risk to public safety and I deserve to retain my right to be a health charity. Adamson continued:

The plaintiff submitted that its rights were not only directly affected, but also altered, by the HCCC’s decision to issue the Public Warning and that certiorari is accordingly available… It argued that the decision directly exposed it to a new hazard of an adverse exercise of public power (having its fundraising capacity revoked).

However, the plaintiff could not point to any provision in the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991 that made the Public Warning a mandatory relevant consideration in the Minister’s decision whether to revoke the authority.    Accordingly there is no basis on which I could find that the Minister for Gaming is legally obliged to take into account the Public Warning. For these reasons, certiorari does not lie.

The implications of this are huge. With denial of certiorari the linking of the AVN’s fundraising capacity revocation to the HCCC ruling has no basis. The court did not find that the AVN is not a risk to public health and safety because it also did not find that the HCCC erred in it’s conclusions or that the complaints are unfounded. The significance of Dorey’s clinically impotent insignificance is worth noting.

The AVN is left with the reality that the HCCC acted outside of jurisdiction in it’s Investigation, Recommendation and Public Warning. Because in this instance, the AVN in effect influences nobody in any significant way.

Also a lot of attention has now been drawn to this “anti-vaccination” group. This led Dorey to complain which led Fran Sheffield of Homeopathy Plus to comment on Dorey’s dishonesty, confirming that the AVN were anti-vaccine.

Fran then backed it up 45 minutes later with something that echoes point one of the HCCC’s pre-warning request, which read: 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 other two points were (2) The information provided should not be read as medical advice and (3) The decision about whether or not to vaccinate should be made in consultation with a health care provider.

Sheffield wrote:

I think if the AVN placed a statement clearly on its website that people saw on first visiting – that it is providing the ‘missing’ information, or the information government and health departments should provide but don’t, then it would explain why weight of information the AVN carries makes it appear to be anti-vaccine.

In what must be one of the most hypocritical replies Dorey has ever managed, she then argued that the “AVN code of ethics” forbade judging anyone on their decisions. It might be harmful to their cause to openly say they were anti-vaccine. She “could not care less what others do” once the AVN have given them information doctors and the government withhold. Then amazingly Dorey herself echoes point one of the HCCC’s pre-warning request:

We provide information on the negative aspects of vaccination in order to balance the purely one-sided information given by the government and the medical community. We provide balance – we don’t tell people they should not vaccinate and we never will.

It’s nice to know some things haven’t changed.

And I am still not a lawyer.

AVN vs HCCC: An HCCC loss not an AVN victory

I am not a lawyer.

On Friday the NSW Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Australian Vaccination Network’s appeal against the HCCC’s public health warning.

Based on Justice Christine Adamson’s interpretation of the HCC Act, the HCCC did not act within jurisdiction. This means the HCCC warning is no longer valid. The outcome also means that the HCCC recommendation for the AVN to post warnings as to it’s antivaccination, non-medical and non-governmental stance are void. Complaints upheld by the HCCC can no longer stand.

Whilst congratulations rightly apply to the AVN their “victory” has come at the price of conceding any real community impact and the denial of certiorari (crucial to Dorey’s promised OLGR appeal). Confirmation of being a Health Care Provider may bring complications for the usually free falling AVN.

Initially Dorey’s argument was that the HCCC investigation was “illegal”. That they did not fall under HCCC jurisdiction because the AVN is not a health care provider. Dorey conceded in the Supreme Court on July 28th 2011 that the AVN did fall under the HCCC jurisdiction as a health care provider.

Because the HCCC jurisdiction to investigate requires a complaint, the court ruling then focused on interpreting the HCC Act under section 7(1) – What can a complaint be made about? The HCCC had upheld two complaints against the AVN. The judge deemed that section 80 of the Act provided specific functions of the HCCC that ruled out dealing with complaints “per se”.

The judge rejected the HCCC submission that section 7(1)(b): a health service which affects the clinical management or care of an individual client, was an alternate source of jurisdiction to that provided under 7(1)(a): the professional conduct of a health practitioner. The HCCC submission that the word “affects” should be read broadly, was not accepted. The judge ruled that the HCCC did not have jurisdiction to investigate complaints not concerning subject matter encompassed in section 7(1) entire. The ruling included:

In my view, the use of the words “the clinical management or care of an individual client” evince an intention that only a complaint concerning a health service that has a concrete (even if indirect) effect on a particular person or persons is within jurisdiction. Complaints about health services that have a tendency to affect a person or group, but which cannot be shown to have had an effect, would appear to be excluded.

I’m sure many of you have wrapped your thinking lobes around this outcome by now. Not being a lawyer my opinions are varied. Given that the Act was written in 1993 I think the HCCC inferred somewhat reasonably where Justice Christine Adamson wrote:

The HCCC submitted that I ought infer that the information the plaintiff has published on its website about vaccination has affected the decisions of people to vaccinate themselves or their children.

However the reality of legislation lagging behind lives deeply influenced by online access and communities is axiomatic. In this light perhaps the HCCC could have sought to cover all bases. This question becomes more relevant when we note that with a good deal of legal help Dorey wrote to the HCCC in December 2009 “again asking for information on jurisdiction”. Page 1 and 2 deal explicitly (and strikingly) with interpretation of the Act just as we saw it eventually impact upon the final judgement. Page 2 includes:

It seems however that the HCCC is seeking to interpret section 7 of the Act in a way that extends its jurisdiction beyond the reasonable (and legislatively established) limits set out in section 7(1)

The HCCC had earlier argued (14 December 2009) via correspondence that a complaint may be made under 7(2) “unrestricted in any way”. Regrettably, and with the help of hindsight over two years later, one can now see that section 7(1)(a) and (b) must be taken together. In fact if no tendency to have a direct affect upon the clinical management or care of a person or persons can be shown then jurisdiction does not apply. Adamson again:

In my view, the use of the words “the clinical management or care of an individual client” evince an intention that only a complaint concerning a health service that has a concrete (even if indirect) effect on a particular person or persons is within jurisdiction.

Should the HCCC have ensured this aspect was covered? Arguably yes. The very problem it would face in court had been laid out before them by the AVN well in advance. The Act dictates how the HCCC function and this entire matter had grown from complaints – the subject of section 7.

So yes, the HCCC should have been prepared. Could “direct affect” upon clients have been established?

There are many written examples of individuals attesting to the AVN having a direct affect upon clinical management or care. A small few include the first letter here republished by Meryl a year ago. A proud dad not vaccinating his daughter last month. An extended admission in support of Dorey speaking at Woodford, last December. This one even popped up just yesterday:

I’d not give these absolute credence in court, but a certain volume would be hard to ignore. However there are also doctors, paediatricians, neonatal nurses and many more who may well have confirmed this in a legal declaration. Justice Adamson herself noted the ease with which the HCCC could have accessed proof of direct affect from one of the complainants. She then wrote:

However, the ease with which it might have done so is not the test. It did not do so. As I have found, the evidence adduced before me is not sufficient to bring the complaints within s 7(1)(b) of the Act.

Yes. It appears that direct affect upon clinical management or care could have been established by the HCCC. I wonder if Adamson’s original draft has “head desk”, scribbled in the margin?

Let’s not forget who we’re talking about here. Dorey isn’t just anti-vaccine but pro-disease.

You may remember the vicious attack in Police called in by anti-choice zealot because mum exposed child to chicken pox!

While this became news locally, how many West Australians were killed by medical error, adverse reactions to properly prescribed medications and hospital-borne infections. (sic) Why isn’t that written up in the newspapers? […]

But no – a mother who exposes her child to chicken pox – a disease that has never been considered deadly… an action that all our mothers and grandmothers would have taken – is threatened with police action or child protection because a man who considers vaccination to be a sacrament of medicine, reported her to the authorities and they didn’t laugh him down.

Keep in mind that giving someone a live virus vaccine (chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella) is already deliberately infecting them with the virus.

Now that the AVN is a Health Service Provider under the HCCC’s jurisdiction one wonders just how much more feral ranting can go unnoticed. There can be no doubt what influence on care is intended by that article.

To this we can add the sum of the rubbish Dorey sells online as alternative health choices and natural cures. The very purpose of such material is to influence clinical care. It is reasonable to suggest the HCCC missed an opportunity which cost it a case.

Yet exactly how much of a “victory” it has been for the AVN has not yet been decided.

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

Or;

… 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?