Diluted Thinking
in Australian healthcare

Anti-vaccination movement in Oz 2015


The anti-vaccination movement in Australia has seen many changes since Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network launched a cruel and long-running campaign in 2009 against parents who had lost children to vaccine-preventable diseases. At that time, Australia had only three membership-driven anti-vaccination groups: the AVN in NSW; VISA in South Australia; and VAIS in Queensland, plus an assortment of individuals who had been campaigning against vaccination for many, many years.

The AVN's despicable actions, however, didn't go unchallenged. A motley crew of health professionals and concerned members of the public pushed back hard against the tide of misinformation and with laudable results: the AVN is but a shadow of its former self; multiple pieces of legislation have been created and/or amended to tackle the anti-vaccination movement; the media stopped seeking commentary from anti-vaccination spokespersons; and the other two organisations hunkered down, put their heads in the sand, in the hope their critics couldn't see them anymore.

By the start of 2015, things were pretty quiet on the anti-vaccination front. Then a lone crusader, Stephanie Messenger, announced her Dr Sherri Tenpenny tour of Australia, scheduled for March 2015. Our motley crew of public health defenders had learnt a great deal in the preceding six years, only needing four weeks to achieve the cancellation of the entire Australian tour. The dust settled once more.

New Kids on the Block

On 12 April 2015 the Australian government announced its No Jab - No Play and No Pay for Child Care policy, to come into effect 1 January 2016. This policy removes all conscientious and religious objection, leaving medical as the only exemption qualifying for the Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement. In addition, the only exemption qualifying for the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate, is a medical exemption. Not surprisingly, all those against vaccination went into immediate over-drive. But surprisingly to us, the faces leading this charge were mostly new.

The first major ones off the starting block were two new political parties: Involuntary Medication Objectors Party (IMOP), and Progressive Choice Australia Party (PCAP). This is the first time in Australia we have seen political parties formed on an anti-vaccination platform. No doubt our anti-vaccination activists realised - thanks to our motley crew - that the old ways of campaigning had become a combination of being ineffective (politically) and just too damn exhausting.

Next up, we got to meet a bunch of new faces with the launch of the No Jab No Pay Protest rallies, scheduled for 21 June 2015 in major Australian cities. There didn't appear to be any particular people or organisations responsible for organising the protests, but on 5 Jun 2015 Renata Bialkowska (who will be making a documentary using footage from the Sydney protest) released a media statement , published on website "Conspiracy Oz", showing Michael O'Neill's anti-vaccination party, IMOP, and Qld based anti-vaccination organisation, VAIS, as the only named organisers of the protests.

The first individuals to raise their heads above the parapet were Karen Johnston (aka Karen Kelly, already known to many of us as the Kiama, NSW contact for VISA) and Damien Poulsen. Both Johnston and Poulsen sought out interviews with well-known alternative media outlets to promote the rallies. Other individuals took ownership for their respective cities:

Note: I've not provided a link to the Perth event page as it has been set to private.
Others officially helping out with the protests include Willow Zuhaitz, Courtney Hebberman, Lynne Hopewell, Sarah Raden, Phil Barney, and the odd sock-puppet. Many of the regular commenters on the Facebook event pages are associates of this new lot of organisers. Other minor groups supporting the protests are the "ugly white christian" types (cue homophobia and bigotry) who trust in God for their children's health, and non-vaccinating parents prepared to speak up for the first time.

In general, our old-school anti-vaccination activists appear to be satisfied with taking a back seat and letting the new kids run the show.

Well, wasn't that a mistake.

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Now I admit having felt just a wee bit nervous at the start of the protest rallies campaign; where did all these people come from? Had our old-school activists finally got their act together? Well, within a few minutes I was sighing with relief, shortly followed by incredulous, blustering laughter.

It turns out that our New Kids on the Block are, to put it simply, nothing more than privileged idjits whose activism is limited to keeping up with full-tinfoil-jacket conspiratorial alternative news media, and attending the occasional protest for a social gathering and circle-jerk of congratulation for having done something (i.e. nothing). In this instance, they are just (lazy) blow-ins whom I suspect were getting bored with their usual subjects of fluoride, GMO, and Monsanto.
I did a google search today, restricting the search dates between 1 Jan 2014 and 30 Jun 2014 and using the search terms "vaccination" and their name (plus variations on their name and known pseudonyms, where relevant). Here are the results:

Damien Poulsen0
Cos Stanway0
Willow Zuhaitz0
Elizabeth Hobley0
Courtney Hebberman0
Lynne Hopewell0
Phil Barney0
Shayla (Seila) Plosko (aka Shayla Swan)0
Belgin Sila Colak0

A quick glance at their personal Facebook pages (where available) also failed to show any mention of vaccination prior to 2015.

Reasonablehank's post No Jab No Pay No Way protest - anti-vaccine to their very core provides evidence of their anti-vaccination stance, but I would like to stress how very recently they seem to have adopted it.

Now taking up a cause only recently doesn't make you a poor excuse for an activist, but displaying a complete lack of rational thinking about issues and relying on conspiracy nonsense for your evidence, most certainly does. In spades. For example:

Title: Cos Stanway shared David Icke's photo.

"By now, a lot of family and friends have blocked my posts so mainly it's the already awakened that I share posts with. We share to educate, encourage and remind each other that we are not alone!

For anyone else who is unsure that our Governments are blatantly lying to us and the rabbit hole just gets deeper… just get your head around 9/11 to begin with.

Much love and respect to my fellow truthers!"

[source: Facebook, 22 Jan 2015]

Damien Poulsen, in an interview with Sallie O. Elkordy on 24 May 2015, advised us that the government's new policy is all part of a bigger, worldwide agenda run by pharmaceutical companies, Murdoch media, the Bilderberg Group, the Rockefellers, and that this agenda has no borders and is a worldwide exercise to diminish our population.

Today (17 June 2015) the Sydney protest page contains an extremely ugly thread with comments made by infamous anti-vaccination campaigner, Frankie Vazquez. He rose to prominence in early 2015 by making a multitude of threats including arson and bomb threats against venues to stop them cancelling the Tenpenny seminars. Vazquez made two highly offensive posts the Sydney No Jab No Pay No Way protest page, 17 Jun 2015: offensive post made by Frankie Vazquez to Sydney NJNP protest page, 17 June 2015
offensive post made by Frankie Vazquez to Sydney NJNP protest page, 17 June 2015
Apologies if you cannot see the images; I'm not supplying the text because of the c-bombs and f-bomb.

At time of writing, these offensive posts have been on the Sydney event page for over 10 hours with not a single NJNP supporter even mentioning them. Participants in this thread include AVN President, Tasha David, and longtime anti-vaccination campaigner, Wendy Lydall.

But the Sydney event has been plagued with problems from the start. I refer you back to Reasonablehank's No Jab No Pay post where he outlines the leadership struggles between Karen Johnston, Damiel Poulsen and Belgin Sila Colak.

In my opinion, these new kids don't deserve the title of activist or even serial protester. There's more to fighting a cause than playing on the internet and socialising on the streets. Their adoption of the vaccination cause is both dishonest and damaging to those who hold sincere, rational concerns. I'd like to express my sincere sympathy to those parents who are genuinely critical of this new policy, particularly in regard to the changes in the child care rebates, in having their cause hijacked. It's a serious piece of legislation that will impact many families. And such a situation deserves a damn sight more respect and maturity than a bunch of privileged idjits banging on about 9/11, New World Order, Zionist plots, the Sydney Siege and missing passenger jets being false flags, the Flat Earth Masonic Matrix Manipulators, and <insert conspiratorial flavour of the month here>.

But don't forget:


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