Diluted Thinking

in Australian healthcare

AVSN: SMH article 15 March 2014

The following article Anti-vaccine group's charity status opposed appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald dated 15 March 2014. The article states that the NSW Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) is investigating problems with the AVSN's financial statements and that AVSN critics feel its charity licence should be removed.

It explains that none of the nearly $2 million of AVSN income in the past seven years has gone toward charitable works and that a previous OLGR investigation uncovered numerous breaches of the Act and Regulations that cover fundraising.

Unfortunately, in painting a very questionable picture of the competence and integrity of the AVSN, a few glaring errors stick out. In regard to the 2010 financial statement the article states:

"And nearly two-thirds of $281,855 in expenses listed on its 2010 financial statements are not explained, given only the title ''other expenses''. The 2012 statement for the group has not been submitted."
First up, they've used the income figure for 2010, not the expenses figure which was approx $231K. Whilst the original 2010 financial statement did not itemise expenses a later submission to Fair Trading did contain a fully itemised account of general expenses totalling $165K. The rest of expenses, cost of goods sold, remained unitemised as this is where payment to Meryl Dorey as editor would be listed.
It is my understanding that the 2012 financial statement had already been submitted to Fair Trading but they've told AVSN to make certain changes and resubmit. In any case, the 2012 statement should have been lodged (in an acceptable format) by 31 July 2013.

Next up we have the question raised about (alleged) discrepancies between the 2008 and 2009 financial statements. The article states:

Financial statements lodged with the NSW Office of Fair Trading show large disparities between years and information gaps, Fairfax can reveal.

The 2008 financial statement said the group had more than $50,500 of assets, yet in its 2009 statement, assets from 2008 are listed as only about half that amount.

If you refer to page 12 of the audited 2009 financial statement that was submitted to NSW Fair Trading you will find the following:
Stock on hand includes an impairment write down of $53,109 as per AASB 136 which mainly relates to the quantity and age of magazine stock held. Books, CDS, Information Packs, DVD and any other stock item have been recorded at cost in the financial statements and the quantity of each item has been obtained from stock counts conducted for the year ending 31st December 2009.
So, no great mystery then. A standard write down (by the accountant) which was clearly spelt out in the financial statement. And I certainly don't expect Dorey to have remembered that detail, especially under the stress of being interviewed for this type of article. I most certainly do expect the journalist to have known this detail given it was in the financial statements they were investigating.

I was disappointed that no mention was made of the AVSN's magazine scam (refer Living Wisdom Scam) nor did they mention the AVSN's unethical practice of conducting charitable fundraising drives then diverting 100% of those funds into covering their own running costs. It was not uncommon to see the AVSN launch a new charitable campaign shortly before a new magazine was due to be published. I mean, you have to pay for printing somehow, not to mention paying the editor.
I would've liked to see more made of the exorbitant, unbelievable expenses associated with an organisation that produces ... nothing.
Also a shame we weren't told what Dorey paid herself as editor for 2011 and 2012 when the AVSN only published three magazines instead of twelve and posted a $33K loss. What a missed opportunity that was.

Oh well. Another day perhaps but I really don't think the AVSN Inc. will be around long enough. Today it was discovered that the AVSN has surrendered its authority to fundraise and my money is on the AVSN Inc. winding itself up before the HCCC issue a public warning and then they'll proceed unincorporated. With the original name :)