Diluted Thinking
in Australian healthcare

Why AVN Should Be Deregistered

In summary, the AVN:
  • has a current public health warning issued by the HCCC;
  • facilitates information being presented to the public by individuals the federal government consider pose a risk to the health of the Australian community;
  • undertakes activities of a nature that necessitates government and health officials and medical professionals to issue public warnings;
  • engages in unconscionable conduct, including vilifying parents of deceased children and targeting at-risk groups in its anti-vaccination activism.

Introduction

The Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (AVN) has been a New South Wales (NSW) incorporated association since 25 Nov 1994.

Incorporated associations in NSW are regulated by NSW Fair Trading under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009.

Any group can register as an incorporated association so long as it meets certain minimum requirements.

The major benefit of incorporation is that public liability falls on the association, not individuals. From NSW Fair Trading About associations:

As a legal entity in its own right, an association bears liability for its acts. This means that claims made against an association, either as debts or compensation for negligence, are the responsibility of the association.

Members of the management committee of an association also have limited liability for the debts of an association, as long as they follow accepted business and community standards.

In addition, there is increased public confidence when dealing with a registered organisation compared to individuals, particularly in regard to financial matters such as fundraising and membership fees.
This was amply demonstrated during the AVN's recent High Court Challenge scam, where AVN management allayed potential donors concerns and suspicions by advising them that as an incorporated association its finances were audited by NSW Fair Trading.

Refusing or cancelling incorporation

NSW Fair Trading may refuse to register an association and it can direct an association to apply for cancellation. From NSW Fair Trading Incorporating an association:
Can an association be refused incorporation?

Fair Trading may refuse to register and may direct an association to apply for cancellation. Fair Trading will consider whether an association should not be registered by taking into account the objects of the Act and the following:

  • if the provisions of the association's constitution is contrary to law
  • the association's objects
  • where the nature or extent of the association's activities is likely to exceed $2 million or more in income, assets or expenditure
  • the likely nature or extent of the association's dealings with the public, or
  • for any other reason that appears sufficient.
From the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 - Sect 73 (excerpts):
Secretary may direct association to apply for cancellation

(1) The Secretary may, by order in writing served on an association, direct the association to apply for cancellation of its registration within such time (being not less than 3 months) as is fixed by the direction.

(2) The Secretary may not give such a direction unless he or she is satisfied that, having regard to the objects of the Act, the association should no longer be registered:

(b) because of the Secretary's assessment of the nature or extent of the association's activities, or

(c) because of the Secretary's assessment of the nature or extent of the associations's dealings with the public, or

(d) for any other reason that appears sufficient to the Secretary.


From the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 - Sect 76 (excerpt):
Registration may be cancelled

(1) The Secretary may cancel an association's registration if satisfied that:

(k) it is in the public interest to cancel the association's registration.


Why the AVN's registration should be cancelled

Let's take a look at the AVN and the public interest.

The evidence presented below demonstrates, in my opinion, that the AVN conducts itself in a manner that is entirely contrary to the public interest and also constitutes unconscionable conduct. Therefore, the AVN should be immediately deregistered.

Public Health Warning

In April 2014 the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission issued a Public Warning about the AVN.
It found that:
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.

It is my opinion that this finding alone provides justification for cancelling the AVN's registration.
The misleading, misrepresented and incorrect information about vaccination from the AVN has only gotten worse since this warning was issued.

AVN providing a platform to banned individuals

In 2017 the AVN conducted a tour of Australia showing the movie Vaxxed followed by a Q&A session. The tour commenced on 23 July in Maleny QLD with events following throughout NSW and Victoria before finishing up in Adelaide on 5 August.
The major drawcard of these events was the Q&A session featuring USA Vaxxed team members Polly Tommey, Dr Suzanne Humphries and Dr Brian Hooker.

The information presented at these events was considered to be such a risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection banned Polly Tommey from Australia for three years, and it's also likely that it cancelled Dr Suzanne Humphries' business visa.

Let that sink in. The federal government imposed a three year ban on the AVN's featured guest because they posed a health risk to the Australian community.

The AVN responded by arranging Polly Tommey to appear via Skype at five Q&A sessions on the subsequent Queensland Vaxxed tour (21 Oct - 6 Nov).

But one banned guest wasn't enough for the AVN. Kent Heckenlively, a USA antivaccination activist, was denied a visa by Australian immigration for also posing a risk to public health. The AVN arranged for Heckenlively to appear via Skype at three Q&A sessions on the QLD tour.

Just in case anyone missed these events, the AVN has published all of the Q&A session videos online.

AVN vilifying bereaved parents

In 2010 ABC Lateline ran the segment Anti-vaccination group accused of harassing parents. The AVN has done nothing since to improve its unconscionable behaviour, as the following blog posts by Reasonable Hank attest: I also refer you to news article Grieving mother Toni McCaffery was vilified by anti-vaccination bullies, The Daily Telegraph, 26 May 2013 .

On 24 Oct 2017 a new hate page sprung up on Facebook , attacking the parents of a deceased child. The Public Officer of the AVN, Wayne Baird, was one of the first active participants on this page. He was shortly followed by another AVN committee member, Dan DeBuriatte, who actively participated and promoted the hate page.

Government officials & Health Professionals

The AVN Vaxxed tours this year drew strong criticism from health officials and medical professionals. Here is a selection.

AMA president Dr Michael Gannon, Health Minister Cameron Dick, Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young:

Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon said he was even "more concerned" now the AVN appeared to be pursuing towns with good vaccination track records.

"These people are spreading misery, hurt and harm and nothing else," he said.

"They don't have a message that is even remotely worthwhile, interesting or worth debating."

Health Minister Cameron Dick called for Queenslanders to boycott screenings and said venues should refuse to show the film.

"The anti-vaxxer agenda is dangerous and ill-informed," he said.

Queensland's chief health officer Jeannette Young said claims vaccinations caused sudden infant death syndrome or autism were "entirely baseless, irresponsible and dangerous".

Anti-vaxxers take film to regional towns with strong immunisation records , The Courier Mail, 27 Sep 2017.

Australian Medical Association Queensland:

Doctors are warning an anti-vaccination documentary to be screened across regional Queensland could ultimately cost children's lives.

The film Vaxxed, which makes false and disproved links between vaccination and autism, is set to be shown in 11 Queensland towns and cities between October 21 and November 5.

AMA Queensland chair Dr Shaun Rudd said he feared some parents could be duped into believing the film's anti-vaccination message and leave their children vulnerable to potentially deadly diseases such as measles and bacterial meningitis.

"This film's director is a former doctor who was struck off by the UK's General Medical Council for serious professional misconduct during his research into vaccination," Dr Rudd said.

"His claims have been completely and repeatedly refuted by independent research and rejected by doctors around the world.

"But sadly many parents believe the lies peddled by the anti-vaccination movement.

"If they are taken in and refuse to vaccinate their children they are putting them at risk of contracting potentially deadly diseases - and heightening the risk to other children and adults in their community."

The first childhood vaccinations were introduced in Australia in 1932. Since then diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, Haemophilus influenza type b, poliomyelitis, congenital rubella and newly acquired hepatitis B have been all but wiped out.

However, low vaccination rates in some areas continue to lead to outbreaks of preventable diseases such as measles, mumps and whooping cough.

"The evidence is in and it is overwhelming," Dr Rudd said.

"Vaccination saves lives and the claims made by anti-vaccination campaigners are totally baseless.

"When it comes to immunisation, Queenslanders should listen to their doctor - not dodgy documentaries."

Doctors Damn Anti-Vaccination Film Screenings , AMA QLD, Media Release, 20 Oct 2017

Dr Shaun Rudd:

AMA Queensland chair Dr Shaun Rudd said he feared some parents could be duped into believing the film's anti-vaccination message and leave their children vulnerable to potentially deadly diseases such as measles and bacterial meningitis.

"This film's director is a former doctor who was struck off by the UK's General Medical Council for serious professional misconduct during his research into vaccination," Dr Rudd said.

"His claims have been completely and repeatedly refuted by independent research and rejected by doctors around the world.

"But sadly many parents believe the lies peddled by the anti-vaccination movement.

"If they are taken in and refuse to vaccinate their children they are putting them at risk of contracting potentially deadly diseases - and heightening the risk to other children and adults in their community."

"The evidence is in and it is overwhelming," Dr Rudd said.

"Vaccination saves lives and the claims made by anti-vaccination campaigners are totally baseless.

"When it comes to immunisation, Queenslanders should listen to their doctor - not dodgy documentaries."

Screening of anti-vaccination film 'could cost kids' lives', The Chronicle, 22 Oct 2017

AVN targeting at-risk groups

Health Minister Cameron Dick, AMA president Dr Michael Gannon:
Australian Vaccination-sceptics Network targets Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Janelle Miles, The Courier Mail
November 10, 2017 12:00am

Anti-vaxxers have been condemned for "new levels of stupidity" after talling a meeting in far north Queensland that "darker-skinned people" are most at risk from vaccine reactions.

The Australian Vaccination-sceptics Network(AVN) visited Kuranda, in the state's far north, this month as part of a tour of Queensland for screenings of the controversial film Vaxxed, which blames immunisation for autism.

Kuranda has a significant indigenous population and video footage of the evening, available online, shows two Aboriginal women delivering a Welcome to Country before the screening.

AVN president Tasha David later told the audience she was of Samoan descent, and then warned: "Once you see this movie, you'll see it is the darker skin people who have the most adverse reactions to these vaccines.

"It is our people who are getting hit. It's up to us to get out there and educate our people. They need us to lead the way. All we're hearing is what the white man is saying and it's not right. They are not looking after our people at all."

Data shows Queensland immunisation coverage for one to five-year-olds increased last financial year compared to 2015-16, including for Aboriginal children. Indigenous five-year-olds have better immunisation rates than the general population with 96.2 per cent, compared to 94.5 per cent.

Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick described Ms David's comments as "reprehensible", adding there was "absolutely no evidence" to support her claims.

"The way the anti-vaccination lobby preys on people's fear of illness is shameful, Mr Dick said. "My advice to people… is to pay the same attention to them as they would to someone who says they know for a fact that the earth is flat and pigs can fly."

Mr Dick said vaccination was strongly supported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and indigenous health services.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland can be proud that by age five, indigenous children have a higher rate of immunisation than non-indigenous five year olds," he said.

Federal Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon also criticised Ms David's claims, saying they reached "new levels of stupidity".

"Immunisation is one the success stories when it comes to delivering health to indigenous people and we would take a very dim view of anyone who attempts to diminish that and to try and turn this into a race issue is breathtaking and utterly deplorable," Dr Gannon said.

"We're talking about a part of society that is already disadvantaged and this is one element of health care we can be very proud of and I take a very dim view of anyone who does anything which potentially compromises the already significant gap in the healthcare outcomes enjoyed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians compared to the rest of the population."

A Queensland Health spokesman said many anti-vaccination claims were based on poorly conducted studies that have been discredited or disproved, such as allegations that immunisation caused sudden infant death syndrome or autism.

"These claims are entirely baseless, irresponsible and dangerous, particularly when they are made to at-risk groups such as indigenous commmunities," he said. "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are at an increased risk of contracting serious and life-threatening vaccine preventable diseases."

Former AVN president, Meryl Dorey, who attended the Kuranda meeting with Ms David, said they had been invited to Kuranda by a local group involved with four Aboriginal communities in the region.

"We didn't target them, they asked to come there," Ms Dorey said.

Australian Vaccination-skeptics targets Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders , Cairns Post, 10 Nov 2017

Update 18 Nov 2017:
AVN is holding another Vaxxed screening with Q&A session at Koah QLD on 7 Dec 2017 . Featured guest for the Q&A session is high-profile anti-vaccination activist Judy Wilyman.

AVN Vaxxed Tours

Links to all AVN Vaxxed tour posts can be found at Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe category page.
Links to videos with transcripts for the Queensland tour are listed in QLD Tour 2017 - Summary & Video Guide.
Refer USA Vaxxed Team Antivax Message in Oz for a sample of their antivax messages in Australia.

The following is just a sample of the misleading, misrepresented and incorrect information about vaccination that the AVN disseminated during the two Vaxxed tours in Australia this year.

Murder in a Needle (Polly Tommey) Toowoomba QLD 22 Oct 2017
"This vaccine is nothing but the most lethal, dangerous vaccine on the market."
"It is killing and maiming and shutting the lives down of beautiful young girls and men around this country and worldwide."
"It is murder in a needle."
Vaccines Kill, Doctors Kill (Polly Tommey) Sutherland NSW 29 July 2017
"This black bus is your black box warning. It is the people's warning to the people to tel you that these vaccines are unsafe, they kill."
These doctors, they kill."
[re: doctors] "Get out the insert, do your job properly, and stop murdering our children."
"Once you vaccinate your child, you cannot unvax it."
One Vaccine can Kill (Polly Tommey) Campbelltown NSW 30 July 2017
"I do not understand anybody in the medical profession… if you recommend vaccines or give vaccines… you are part of the problem because look at the ingredients - it includes death."
"So I agree with Meryl; step away, do the right thing, and refuse to give these vaccines. Step right away and not be part of the problem."
"One vaccine can kill, one vaccine. No excuse."
Don't Vaccinate (Dr Suzanne Humphries) Campbelltown NSW 30 July 2017
"And what I can say today, is that I look at every vaccine and I think the risk-benefit ratio for a child who is looked after properly and is fed properly, is to not vaccinate."
Fear Doctors not diseases (Dr Suzanne Humphries) Hawthorn VIC 30 July 2017
Herd immunity is a myth.
For babies too young to be vaccinated, the practice of vaccination puts these babies at even higher risk.
Measles vaccine puts pregnant mothers and their unborn children at greater risk than before it was used.
The woman who [recently] died of pneumococcal actually died from the DTaP vaccine.
Lies, cover-ups and social engineering by the government and medical establishment.
The fear of doctors should be higher than the fear of diseases.
Stay Away from the White Coat Brigade (Polly Tommey) Hawthorn VIC 30 July 2017
"Do not take your child that is vaccine injured - with any injury whatsoever - to any white coat, any psychiatrist or anyone who is mainstream medicine because all we have seen… is nothing but more severe death, damage…"
"Stay away from them and trust the parents."
It takes one vaccine to kill your child (Polly Tommey) Maleny QLD 23 July
"The point is, it takes one vaccine to kill your child or ruin your child's life, and your life, forever."
State-sponsored killing (Kent Heckenlively) Ipswich QLD 21 Oct 2017
"This is state-sponsored killing that's going on."
"It is state-sponsored maiming of our children that's going on."
"It doesn't get bigger than killing your old people and maiming your young."
Gardasil: very, very dangerous (Andrew Wakefield) Emerald QLD 25 Oct 2017
"Gardasil is one of the most dangerous vaccines on the market."
"It's never been shown to prevent anything."
"It's a very, very dangerous vaccine… There are a huge number of complications and new diseases arising out of it."
Catch-up schedule is Bad & Terrifying (Polly Tommey & Andrew Wakefield) Mackay QLD 27 Oct 2017
Tommey:
"… but catching up… is nothing but disaster after disaster."
"Have you not learnt that you cannot trust any doctors. FACT. True story. Stick to the parents."
Wakefield:
"Polly's absolulely right."
"Because at four years of age being given a catch-up schedule is going to be an enormous burden."
"It's terrifying."
No Vaccines for Children (Dr Brian Hooker) Brisbane QLD 24 July 2017
"…I know I'm preserving you and saving you a world of hurt for the rest of your life."
"No vaccines for children."
"No vaccines specifically for your children."
[re: children] "I would have them out, loud and proud that my parents think enough of me that they're not going to inject me and pump me full of poison."
Fear Doctors, Not Diseases (Dr Suzanne Humphries) Miami QLD 25 July 2017
"So I say be more afraid of the conventional treatments from doctors, who don't know how to treat diseases, than you should be of the actual diseases."
Every Vaccine is Dangerous (Polly Tommey) Miami QLD 25 July 2017
"It's every single vaccine that is a problem, at any age."
"There's no such thing as being safe if you delay your vaccines."
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