Well the news is out by now. On 20 October the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) in New South Wales revoked the charitable status of the small, nasty and dangerous organisation called the Australian Vaccination Network. It is an organisation that spreads fear of vaccinations and pretends not to encourage people to not vaccinate their kids. Whooping cough is on the rise, by the way. At least where the AVN hangs out.
This organisation hit the headlines in Australia and it quickly spread across the web and other news outlets across the world sometime in July of this year. The reason that AVN got into the news was because of the harassing campaign it launched after a wee baby girl died from whooping cough in northern NSW. I used to live in Mullumbimby and nearby there is a pretty little town called Bangalow which is where AVN has its dog box in the home of its head dog. The wee girl lived not far away. Anti-vaccination is growing steadily in the region.
For people who don’t know, the far north coastal region of NSW abounds with woo and there are healers of all stripes and religious sects, cults and churches everywhere. There are spiritual healers and layers on of hands coming out of every door. The local newspaper has pages and pages of advertisements (called Public Notices) offering anything from Reiki to how to change your DNA – all for a fee, of course.
Have a look at this link – http://www.echo.net.au/ and take your pick of healer for whatever you fancy. This region is quite an extraordinary place in Australia. There’s another place is on the west coast down near Margaret River, and another in the Daintree in Queensland. No wonder I came to Scotland! And to Edinburgh at that!
Anyway, The Health Care Complaints Commission in New South Wales investigated two complaints about the AVN. The complaints alleged that the AVN provides incorrect and misleading information about vaccination. The complaints came via a group called Stop the Australian Vaccination Network. Don’t you love itl! Orac at Respectful Insolence had a blog post about this on 12 July. It is a good read.
On 26 July the HCCC issued a Public Warning about the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN). I hadn’t noticed anything in The Sydney Morning Herald until PZ Meyers over at Pharyngula put up an article mid July. He included a video of a very good Australian Broadcasting Commission programme called Lateline.
I recommend anyone to click on the link to Pharyngula. Richard Dawkins’ website ran with the story as well. All of a sudden AVN was all over the news, exposed for what it is – an anti-vaccination disinformation network with a public warning from the HCCC against it..
And now, three months later, the OLGR has revoked the charitable status of the AVN and reason is restored – well a tiny bit. Over at Respectful Insolence, there is some celebration. Some commenter wag has said that if Schadenfreude is a … brand of German beer then … A very nice comment too.
One shadow on the horizon is from the quack Joe Mercola and a group called NVIC (National Vaccine Information Center) designating November 1 – 6 as Vaccine Awareness week. This is possibly why the head dog of the AVN is off to the good ol’ US of A. Maybe she needs to get a woo charge from the master of quackery during quack week?
NVIC‘s website looks like a more well funded version of the AVN and sounds like AVN’s alma mater (or should that be guru?)!! There’s an equivalent organisation in the UK known as JABS (Justice Awareness and Basic Support) – a group for ‘vaccine-damaged children’.
Now I know that this stupidity has been around for quite some time, but Andrew Wakefield gave it all one terrific shove in the direction of woo and tragedy. The damage to public health vaccination initiatives that man caused is immeasurable. Even though he has been de-registered and can no longer practice medicine in the UK he is still around spreading his nonsense about autism and the MMR vaccine.
Anyway, from her website announcement it seems Ms Dorey who runs the AVN is filing an appeal with the Administrative Decisions Tribunal in NSW so there will be more barking from the dog box. But for now, it is smiles all round.