For the many students, researchers, journalists and citizens who are interested in the “Australian Vaccination Network,” we have assembled a list of recent mentions in Australian Parliaments. If we have missed any, please let us know.

IN THE NSW LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 26 March 2013 Debating The Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 Dr Andrew McDonald: “The Australian Vaccination Network is a fervent and highly virulent antiimmunisation group. Its name and website are designed to mislead unsuspecting community members to believe that a balanced view about immunisation is being presented. When provoked, Australian Vaccination Network's fellow travellers can and do behave reprehensibly. The police have been called to my office on one occasion following threatening emails after I raised concerns about the practices of the Australian Vaccination Network.”.... “The Australian Vaccination Network website is a mixture of scientific fact, half-truths and unproven allegations that only an expert eye can pick. As I said earlier, this is a group that vehemently opposes immunisation....”

30 April 2013 Debating the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 Mr Stephen Bromhead “...the name of the Australian Vaccination Network is misleading...” Mr Matt Kean “....a group that misleadingly calls itself the Australian Vaccination Network.”....

“In reality the Australian Vaccination Network is a group of flat-earthers and wing-nuts who believe that vaccination is unnecessary. Indeed, the group has claimed that vaccination is harmful to individuals, which is contrary to all the scientific evidence.” Mr ROB STOKES “Members will be aware of the activities of the Australian Vaccination Network and its strange, and frankly ludicrous, claims about the dangers of immunisation.” ....”I note the range of weird and wacky claims that that organisation has made,....” Mr Clayton Barr “.... the member for Hornsby referred to the flat-earthers and wingnuts. Of course, he was referring to the Australian Vaccination Network.” .... “I believe the Australian Vaccination Network is negligent in its provision of information. In fact, it is wilful with regard to manslaughter and potentially murderous because it puts young children at risk based on unfounded and unscientific beliefs. Young people die because of the information that it provides and it should be held to account. The people who read the network's website or the material that it distributes must understand that it contains ill-founded, ill-considered and disreputable information that has been disputed by the medical fraternity, which has hundreds of years of experience.”

IN THE NSW LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL 8 May 2013 Debating The Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 The Hon. Catherine Cusack “The zeal and success of the Australian Vaccination Net work accumulating scientific fact and truth about immunisation is, sadly, having deadly effects.” 1 The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps, referring to the AVN’s website “I think "insane” is the word you were looking for.” The Hon Trevor Khan “These (Anti-vaccination) groups are a danger to the public health of our society. Their unscientific opinions can result in parents not vaccinating their children.” “ Antiimmunisation groups, such as the Australian Vaccination Network, have touted unscientific propaganda such as the discredited link between the measles vaccine and autism. The name of the Australian Vaccination Network is profoundly misleading; it implies that it supports immunisation.” The Hon. Dr John Kaye “I believe that people such as Meryl Dorey from Australian Vaccination Network are behaving in an entirely immoral way.” The Hon. Helen Westwood “They (AVN) are the anti-vaccination network. They are antivaccination and that has serious public health consequences.”

19 June 2013 Debating the Public Health Amendment (Vaccination of Children Attending Child Care Facilities ) Bill The Hon. Trevor Khan:”Members have referred to groups such as the Australian Vaccination Network” “Those groups are truly unreconstructed conspiracy theorists”

IN THE NSW LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 9 May 2013 Question Time The Hon. Anthony John Roberts, Minister for Fair Trading “It is incredibly irresponsible for an avowedly anti-vaccination group to advertise itself as a balanced source of information on vaccination. Such action is not only misleading to the public but also dangerous to those who believe they are referring to evidence-based medical advice” ....” The Government, the medical community and the Australian Medical Association led by Associate Professor Brian Owler are in agreement that the name "Australian Vaccination Network "is unacceptable...” “On 8 February 2013 the association sought an internal review by Fair Trading of that decision (An order to the AVN to change its name.). The internal review was completed by the principal solicitor of the Department of Finance and Services on 19February and affirmed our original decision. The review found that the Australian Vaccination Network does not provide a balanced view of the processes, benefits and risks involved with immunisation and that, "Its views are anti-vaccination, and it advises against being vaccinated or taking part in immunisation programs." The review went on to comment that when issues have two sides the Australian Vaccination Network takes just one of them. “

AUSTRALIAN SENATE. Tuesday, 25 June 2013 Question Time Senator Dr Richard Di Natale moved a motion in the Senate. Senator DI NATALE (Victoria) (15:47):I move: That the Senate — (a) notes: (i) the low vaccination rates in certain parts of Australia, and the threat this poses to the health of Australian children, and (ii) the irresponsible campaign run by the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), which is spreading misinformation about the risks of vaccination and discouraging parents from vaccinating their children; and (b) calls on the AVN to immediately disband and cease their harmful and unscientific scare campaign against vaccines.

(The motion passed unanimously “on the voices” which means there was no dissent and hence no need for a division.)

Adjournment Debate on 27 June 2013 Senator D Natale gave a speech in the Senate in the in which he said in part: “The AVN, the Australian Vaccination Network—misleadingly named—founded in 1994, have styled themselves as providers of vaccine information. In fact, their mission is to deter parents from getting their children vaccinated. They accomplish their mission by sowing fear and doubt in the minds of parents who have young kids, and by dressing it up in the language of science. They pretend to be neutral providers of information to allow parents to make a choice, but in reality they are fiercely anti vaccine. The claims made by the AVN, and particularly by their founder, Ms Meryl Dorey, beggar belief. Despite being corrected numerous times by health professionals, scientists and so on, they continue to propagate outright myths about vaccines and their safety. They say that the MMR vaccine causes autism, a claim they know has been thoroughly and comprehensively debunked. They claim links between vaccines and sudden infant death syndrome. They claim HPV does not cause cancer but that vaccines do. They are on the record claiming that the vaccine against pertussis, or whooping cough, is not safe and has not been tested. The list goes on. As well as making false claims about vaccines, Ms Dorey and the AVN make even more ludicrous claims about the diseases they were designed to prevent. They dispute the harms of dangerous childhood diseases in order to downplay the benefits of a vaccine. One especially preposterous example is the claim that measles is beneficial to children, making them more robust and leading to growth spurts. Ms Dorey has claimed that the word measles in Sanskrit means 'gift from a goddess' and has publicised a book called Melanie's Marvellous Measles that downplays the dangers of this disease. Mr President, as a doctor I can inform the Senate that measles is not a magical gift from Mother Nature. It is a virus that damages the human body and has the potential for serious and sometimes fatal complications. In 2001 the World Health Organization estimated 158,000 deaths from this disease. It is one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide. To suggest that a parent should deliberately expose their child to this disease is reckless. Measles is dangerous and it can be fatal. When concerned citizens seek to shine a light on the absurd beliefs of the AVN their reactions are telling. Doctors are called 'killers' and 'terrorists', and vaccinations are likened to rape by the AVN. To silence critics they take out apprehended violence orders. And when tragedies have occurred that put the lie to their nonsensical claims, they have gone so far as to harass grieving parents. Ms Dorey is alleged to have called Chris Kokogei, whose child died of chickenpox, and said that his child died because his child was weak. In 2009 Dana McCaffery, the daughter of David and Toni McCaffery, tragically died from a whooping cough infection. Incredibly, in response to this tragedy, Ms Dorey went as far as to contact the New South Wales director of the public health to dispute the cause of death and ask for confidential medical information. When the story became public the McCafferys had to endure months of harassment from the AVN and had to endure watching Dorey go on TV denying a child could die of whooping cough and accusing them of turning Dana into a martyr. “

“Unfortunately, I do not have time to complete the catalogue of crimes against reason and common decency perpetrated by this group. I do not know what motivates them. I imagine that they are sincere, but they are misguided, probably due to some combination of superstition, paranoia and scientific illiteracy. All of that can be forgiven, but the tactics they have used to spread their message of fear and doubt to unsuspecting parents are abhorrent. “ “......... the AVN need to be held to account. I condemn them, the Australian Greens condemn them and the Australian Senate condemns them.”

Ken McLeod 4 July 2013

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