Why I am a vaccination advocate

My late Aunt Chris caught polio as a child. This damaged her nervous system, and over the course of her life worsened progressively, a condition known as post-polio syndrome. In the end she suffered numerous health problems because of this. The nerves to her lungs were in the end unable to regulate fluid in her lungs. She then suffered from pneumonia as a result of this and, struggling for breath, died.

Thanks to science, polio is now a vaccine preventable disease. Polio vaccination is safe and effective. Please make sure you and your children are vaccinated against it.

Blow up the pokies

Regular readers of this blog, and I know there are at least two of you, may have noticed that I have changed the URL away from WordPress.com. Why? Because WordPress carry ads for gambling, and I lost a family friend to gambling debt related suicide. Gambling is a particularly pernicious problem in Australia, as the blow chart shows, and is linked to around 20% of suicides.


This is made worse by Governments and large companies. And that’s why I no longer host at WordPress.com.

If you are feeling suicidal or need help, some resources in Australia are:

 Lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

beyondblue: 1300 22 4636

New public officer of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network


So the AVN have a new public officer, Rebecca (Bek) Henry:


Association extract for the AVN






She was previously listed as a committee member in 2013. I have written to Rebecca requesting information about the current committee of the AVN:

Dear Rebecca,

Congratulations on becoming the new public officer of the AVN.

Under Section 29 of the Associations Incorporation Act (NSW) 2009 the AVN is required to keep a register of committe members and to make this available, free of charge, to any person. With that in mind, can you please send me a copy of the register.


Dr Matthew Berryman

I am hoping she’ll be a little bit more forthcoming than Meryl Dorey was to requests for committee members; I have received no response to my query regarding who the current president is.


promise from AVN

AVN breaking the law (again)

The Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network (AVN) may well have escaped legal action regarding their web site, aided and abetted by University of Wollongong academic Professor Brian Martin. However, as an organisation still registered with NSW Fair Trading, they still need to comply with the law in New South Wales with regards to their organisation. Those of you who’ve been following the story so far know that there’s quite the history with non-compliance. So it’s not surprising to find they’re not complying again…

Dear Tim,

I note that back in June (refer to the email below) the AVN promised “greater accountability, transparency, and, ultimately, responsibility”, which would have been a welcome change, however to date:
1. There’s been no statement on the relationship between the AVN and the owners of the avn.org.au domain, AVN-RISE;
2. The AVN is late in providing its financial report as required by law (see attached extract showing none provided by the due date, July the 31st); and
3. There’s been no announcement regarding who the current president is—under your constitution an election needed to be held by the 30th of June, over a month ago now.
Also, I notice that there’s still no mention of the new AVN Facebook page on the Fans of the AVN Facebook page, which seems odd given that the current public officer (as per the extract) is an admin of the latter.

Yours, in anticipation of responsibility starting here and now,
Dr Matthew Berryman

AVN association extract

In reply to the email from the AVN (10th June 2015, subject: Responsibility starts here and now):

We have been working hard behind the scenes to create a strong platform for change.
Tasha’s message below captures the spirit of our approach.

I hope you will join us as we move forward.


promise from AVN


Good health is vital for a functioning society. A healthy society translates directly into a happier, more peaceful social group. Australia is made up of many diverse groups – groups who follow different religions, speak different languages and those who raise their family in more liberal environments – and we as Australians are accepting of these behaviours. This tolerance is based on respect for the individual. Here we call it giving people a fair go.

However, it is not giving people a fair go if they are ordered by higher powers to change their beliefs in the way they raise their family. It is not giving people a fair go if they are being coerced into following, what amounts to, a mandatory vaccination program under the threat of financial penalty.

We are campaigning for social health programs to be more transparent. We want the big three – government, pharmaceutical companies and the medical industry – to show honesty in informing people about all aspects of vaccination, good and bad, and to support all individuals in their choice.

If this powerful triumvirate recognises and accepts responsibility for their actions, we as a collective voice for Australian families will have set the path for government-sponsored compensation for injured vaccination victims and promoted a more open dialogue on the health of all Australians.

Tasha David, President, Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network

The AVN fought the law and the law won: AVN stopped.

I note that in the University of Wollongong academic Professor Brian Martin’s recent book chapter “A vaccination struggle” (chapter 8 of Nonviolence Unbound, Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2015), he writes on the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc. (here referred to by the old initialism AVN):

AVN responses 3: dealing with complaints

5. The AVN could transform itself so that its operations are less susceptible to complaint-based attacks. As an incorporated body in the state of New South Wales, the AVN was subject to regulatory control by a number of bodies, such as the Department of Fair Trading. If, for example, the AVN dissolved and reconstituted itself as a network, it would no longer be subject to DFT rules.

Option 5 is for the AVN to transform itself so that it becomes less vulnerable to harassment and control via regulatory agencies. One possibility would be to wind up the AVN as an incorporated body and to relaunch the AVN, perhaps under a different name, in a different form. Another possibility is to set up the AVN as a business in another country. Its operations in Australia would not be subject to the same controls as a business registered in Australia.The N in the abbreviation AVN stands for Network. Actually, though, it has operated as an organisation, with a constitution, elected office bearers and other aspects required by legislation covering incorporated bodies. In contrast, SAVN is an actual network, without the formal features associated with an organisation. Option 5 has high transition costs. It might involve getting rid of assets, ensuring continuity of website operations, and enabling the membership list to become a contact list in a network. The DFT has rules covering closing down of an incorporated body, and these could be applied in an onerous fashion. (Many incorporated bodies fizzle out through lack of activity, but given the scrutiny of the AVN, this would have been an unlikely scenario.)


One complication involved the AVN’s website. If the AVN changed its name to Vaccination Choice, SAVN would have challenged the AVN’s domain name of http://avn.org.au/ and, if possible, taken it over. A possible counter option for the AVN would have been to set up a spin-off organisation to host the web domain. This is a small indication of the machinations involved in the SAVN-versus-AVN struggle.

Indeed this is the option that has been adopted by the AVN, as I wrote previously. So there you have it: a former paid member, and by his own admission in this latest book chapter, defender of the antivaccination AVN group, is providing advice on how the AVN can avoid complying with public health laws.

As an update on how the AVN is following this advice, I note they have now officially given up their Twitter account

AVN Twitter profile

and blog, leaving them with no official online assets whatsoever. One presumes the organisation will be wound up as Professor Martin suggests. The AVN have now effectively been stopped, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all who’ve been involved in Stop the AVN over the years. Our fight against nonscience will aways continue, however, as reflected in the “change of focus to all anti-vaccine cranks in Australia”. Full post here.

bone metasteses

The paleodiet won’t cure you, hunter gatherers died of cancer too.

Prof. Alice Roberts writes in The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being (Amazon, iTunes):

…recent changes in our digestive physiology mean that the whole idea of a ‘paleodiet’, purportedly healthier because it recreates the diet we evolved to eat as hunter-gatherers, is off the mark. Firstly diets would have varied from place to place, even back in the Palaeolithic, and many populations have changed genetically since we left that way of life behind. We are not fossilised hunter-gatherers.

Speaking of fossilised hunter-gatherers, although they’re hard to come by, as fossilisation needs the right conditions, they do exist. Most won’t show any signs of cancer, because soft tissues are not preserved. Of the cancers that do typically metastasise to bone, these (prostate, breast, and lung cancer) tend to occur in old age, and hunter gatherers didn’t tend to live long, nor smoke. But here’s one of the earliest examples I could find, a remarkable, but sad case, of an bronze age, hunter gatherer, adult male with a large number of bone metastases, some of them  pictured here:

bone metasteses

Why is this remarkable specimen relevant to today? Because it’s one piece of evidence that a paleodiet (as in, the current trend, as distinct from what hunter gatherers actually ate) won’t prevent cancer, although a generally healthy diet can play a role in preventing some types of cancer. You’d need to speak to a qualified dietitian, not naturopath or chef, for advice on what’s right for you. Furthermore, diet won’t help cure cancer, however as we’ll see you may need listen to proper advice on diet for your type and stage of cancer.

So it’s disturbing to find this advice from naturopath Sarah Stevens on paleodiet chef Pete Evan’s Facebook site, which reads in part:

Specialising in Integrative Oncology is such a rewarding yet frustrating area to work in as I am constantly battling against dietary recommendations from the hospital DAA dieticians who recommend high sugar carbohydrate foods to maintain weight and energy. I am also constantly battling with the message that gets brought back to me that my client is not eat the food plans I recommend as they are “dangerous” and can make them worse! This approach is based of “fear of the unknown” rather than research. It is clearly stated but the World Health Organization (WHO) than an estimated 40% or more of all cancer can be prevented. Dramatic increases in lifestyle risk factors such as un-healthy eating habits and obesity are major contributing factors generally due to a high refined carbohydrate, high hydrogenated (trans) fat and low protein/fat diet.
If I could do one thing to change our conventional dietary treatment for cancer it would be cutting out sugar and refined carbs from the dietary recommendations. In my practice I use a Ketogenic and whole food eating program and have only seen my clients improve in wellbeing, maintain muscle mass and healthy gut function while giving them better quality of life and their bodies the tools to heal…

Food and nutrition are a powerful medicine to heal and repair the body. I encourage you to follow a clean diet; eliminating processed foods, sugars, preservatives and additives. Foods that are in their original state, straight from the tree, ground or animal without being changed or processed means that they are full of phytonutrients, antioxidants, good oils and high in fibre. Choosing whole foods is the basis of a healthy lifestyle.

In other words:

  1. Claims that the paleodiet prevents cancer;
  2. Claims that the cancer patients who need to be on a particular diet to maintain weight and energy, which are important for treatment and quality of life, should actually be on a paleodiet; and
  3. Claims that food can act as a ‘powerful medicine’ for cancer.

As dietitian Kate Van Berkel wrote in a comment on that Facebook post:

I find it incredibly upsetting that Dietitian’s spend professional development time learning how to work along side naturopaths and then receive this sort of response.

I have specialised in nutrition and oncology for 6 years. I work with world class consultants who are holistically focused. As a specialist dietitian I am not only well read, but am also actively involved in further research into the role of nutrition and cancer. This is no blanket approach, and I have NEVER used the Australian guide to healthy eating with an oncology client as the guidelines are not developed for anyone with a medical illness.

Unfortunately with xerostomia, dysguesia, anorexia, nausea, delayed gastric emptying, and severe fatigue, for a lot of the clients a “healthy diet” just will not cut it.

I have worked with thousands of truly inspirational clients who try to eat a wholesome diet and lose 1-2kg a week with a substantial amount of lean body mass disappearing as well (it’s hard to have any quality of life with that going on).

Overwhelmingly current clinical evidence points to weight and muscle loss being the single worst nutritional factor when it comes to cancer survival rates. Evidence also points to the fact that the breakdown of muscle mass released nitrogen which may fuel cancer cell growth.

If my clients are able to eat a healthy diet in whatever form (Paleo or otherwise) it may take, fabulous.

If they are down to liquid foods and a few mouthfuls of solid foods a day (common for some types of cancer) I will not hesitate to use a carefully selected formulated high energy, high protein liquid meal replacement (such as eek! Sustagen/Enprocal/Resource/fortisip/). If it helps to improve the chance of survival, bring it on!

This is what I do, and I love it because I see specialist dietitians helping people maintain their strength, hope and dignity every day. It’s an amazing profession to work for in a setting that is otherwise very “clinical” and medication based.

I encourage anyone going through cancer treatment who is worried about their nutrition to have an open conversation with an oncology dietitian. You can take or leave the recommendations, but at least be fully informed and empowered.

To all the family members reading this, be mindful of pushing your loved ones into your way of eating. In a private clinic many of my clients admit to feeling distress over being pressured into eating foods that they just cannot face from loving but misguided family members. Allow flexibility and make the effort to go to the dietitian with them so that you can speak about your concerns.


Given I share Ms Van Berkel’s concern, I wrote to the Victorian Health Services Commission, who advised:

Under the Health Services (Conciliation and Review) Act 1987, our office receives and deals with complaints from patients or consumers of a health service. While we respect and register your concerns regarding Ms Sarah Stevens we are unable to accept your complaint as a third party. Please appreciate, in these circumstances, our powers are limited. As you did not directly and are not complaining on behalf of someone, who did
receive a health service, this matter is not within our jurisdiction.

While our office may not be able to assist you in investigating these concerns, there are other organisations that will be able to help you to ensure that your concerns are addressed. We have noticed that Ms Stevens has stated she is a member of the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA).

ANTA have standards of practice and a complaints process that registered members must abide by. I would respectfully like to refer you to bring your concerns to the attention of the Australian Natural Therapists Association;
You may also wish to write to them at Australian Natural Therapists
Association, PO BOX 657, Maroochydore QLD 4558 or alternatively, email them
at info@anta.com.au
Further details can be found at this web site:

You also stated that you believe Ms Stevens is providing dangerous advice;
these concerns can also be lodged with Consumer Affairs Victoria.
Their details can be found on their web site at
If you wish to write to them, their address is located at Consumer Affairs
Victoria, GPO Box 4567, Melbourne VIC 3001
They can be contact on telephone number 1300 558 181 or by email at
consumer @ justice.vic.gov.au

I hope this information was of assistance to you.

So I wrote to the ANTA:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Based on this Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/paleochefpeteevans/posts/793442640749124
(pdf copy attached), I am deeply concerned that Sarah Stevens, a naturopath operating from Armadale, Victoria, is
1. Providing dangerous advice to the public at large, and
2. Providing dangerous advice to individual cancer patients,
that could seriously compromise their health, even resulting in death, through improper nutrition contrary to proper evidence-based medicine in that area.

I strongly urge you to investigate Sarah Stevens and also issue a public warning on this issue.
I note in particular your quality policy and mission statement (copied below) as well as your scope and standards of practice.
ANTA is a quality organisation and aims to deliver quality service at all times.

ANTA’s mission is for Natural and Traditional Therapists to uphold and advance their standing within the community and to provide the public with best practice health care in all disciplines in Natural and Traditional Therapies.

Dr Matthew Berryman

The ANTA wrote back:

Dear Dr Berryman

I am writing in response to the complaint you have lodged with the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA) regarding Sarah Stevens.

Sarah Stevens has not renewed her membership with ANTA and is not a registered practitioner/member with ANTA.

As Sarah Stevens is not a member of ANTA, we recommend you lodge your complaint with the Office of the Health Services Commissioner at the following link:



Brian Coleman
Executive Officer
Australian Natural Therapists Association Ltd (ANTA)

Now as her web site does clearly state she’s a member:
Sarah Stevens, registered ANTA memberI wrote to the Luxton clinic where she works:

Dear Madam/Sir,

On the “about” page for Luxton Clinic, it states “Sarah has a Bachelor of Health Science, post-graduate Nutrition Medicine qualifications and is a registered Naturopath with the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA).”, however ANTA state otherwise in the email below.

I look forward to your amendment of this statement, lest it be reported to Consumer Affairs Victoria for misrepresentation in advertising.

Dr Matthew Berryman

and Ms Stevens advised:

Hi Matthew,

Thank you for your email regarding my membership with ANTA. I have contacted ANTA and there had been a clerical error in their system which has been corrected today and my membership is still current and effective for my qualifications to date.

I wish to thank you for bringing it to my attention as I was not aware that there was an issue and have spoken to ANTA and my details will be updated on their website in the next 24-48 hours.

Kind Regards,

I then wrote on the 11th of March:

Dear Mr Coleman,

Ms Stevens has indicated in the attached email that she is in fact a registered member of the ANTA. That being the case would you please reopen the investigation.

Dr Matthew Berryman.

Not having heard anything by the 10th of April, I wrote back to Mr Coleman:

Dear Mr Coleman,

When do you expect the investigation to be complete?

Dr Matthew Berryman

and was advised:

Dear Mr Berryman

The matter will be reviewed at our next meeting on the 15th May 2015.

Brian Coleman

So what was the finding, following all of that?

Dear Dr Berryman

The ANTA Ethics Panel and ANTA National Council reviewed your complaint and the response from Sarah Stevens and decided no breaches of the ANTA Code of Ethics or ANTA Constitution had occurred and no further action is to be taken.


Brian Coleman

Hoping for at least a little transparency as to why the ANTA finds it both best practice and ethical to provide advice that is contrary to evidence-based practice, I wrote to ask:

Dear Mr Coleman,

Could you please send me a written copy of your findings as well as the response from Sarah Stevens (the only response I received from her as you know was not addressing the issues but pertaining to her membership).

Dr Matthew Berryman

however the ANTA are less than transparent:

Dear Dr Berryman

I have advised you of the findings in my email below. Under our rules and regulations, we are not required to provide a copy of the response by our member.
ANTA National Council has advised the matter is now closed.


Brian Coleman

I also ran Ms Stevens’ Facebook comments past Tim Crowe, Associate Professor in Nutrition from Deakin University who wrote:

Although good nutrition is important to help a person get through cancer treatment and to manage the sometimes-severe side-effects of treatment, there is no reliable evidence of any form of nutrition therapy ‘curing’ cancer. Yet there is a wealth information – some good and some very misinformed and dangerous – that a person with cancer may read or hear about as to what they should eat when they have cancer. It is best to get information about nutrition and cancer through organisations such as the Cancer Council http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/ or an Accredited Practicing Dietitian.


Australia’s chief anti-vaccination group in tatters.

What’s left of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc.? Answer: not much, at least officially.

Following the claim that the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network’ (AVSN’s) Facebook page was handed over as a fan-operated page to a fake profile, “Ben Rush” (whom I have discussed previously), they have finally changed the name of the page to “Fans of the AV(S)N”. In addition, it is now mostly operated by the new admin Giselle Tonee, who is behind the recent (TW) rape analogies—presumably the reason they’ve gone the extra step in trying to distance the Facebook page from the organisation through the change of name. However, these also appeared on the AVSN’s Twitter account, which is still officially theirs:

AVSN Twitter page screenshot

This official AVSN Twitter account is still linked to (and posting) posts made to the Fans of the AV(S)N Facebook page, which includes the aforementioned rape analogies:

(photo now removed by the AVSN), and

In other news, the avn.org.au domain, and therefore the web site and email addresses, has recently been transferred to another organisation, Australian Vaccination News (AVN), details as follows. Note that it’s important that it be a non-profit organisation with the initialism AVN, otherwise they’d be ineligible to hold the avn.org.au domain under auDA rules.

Domain Name avn.org.au
Last Modified 25-Feb-2015 02:36:36 UTC
Status ok
Registrar Name NetRegistry
Registrant ID OTHER IA03156
Eligibility Type Non-profit Organisation
Registrant Contact ID PAGR1412
Registrant Contact Name Greg Payne
Registrant Contact Email gpayne@octa4.net.au
Tech Contact ID PAGR1412
Tech Contact Name Greg Payne
Tech Contact Email gpayne@octa4.net.au
Name Server ns6343.hostgator.com
Name Server ns6344.hostgator.com
DNSSEC unsigned

The organisation is registered in the Northern Territory, so almost certainly (particularly given the small size of Darwin) the Greg Payne listed is the Greg Payne who won the Richard Morris Community Spirit Award, for the greater Darwin area for volunteering for the St John Ambulance service. I do hope for the sake of the public he was vaccinated. I assume he’s related to (former?) AVSN committee member Kaye Payne aka Kaye Marskell:

AVSN membership 2013-02-28

Despite this, the page still carries the name and logo of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc.:

Taken 2015-05-15 09:30 AEST.
Taken 2015-05-15 09:30 AEST.

It also carries the current contact details of the AVSN:

AVSN contact details 2015-05-15

How do I know these belong to the AVSN and not the new web site operator the AVN? Because I called up that number and when the receptionist answered as from the “AVN” I asked what that stood for and was told quite clearly the “Australian Vaccination Skeptics”, leaving off the “Network”, although I was not corrected when I used the name in full, and it’s clearly not the Australian Vaccination News organisation. Note that the contact details have changed from the previous contact details, which were listed as recent as the 21st of April 2015 as:

AVSN contact details 2015-04-21

i.e. those of Meryl Dorey, who no longer seems to play any role in the AVSN at all. Indeed my good friend Ken McLeod has made enquiries:

Good morning Ms Dorey

Is there any truth to the rumour that you have severed all links to the AVSN?


Ken McLeod

We have asked NSW Fair Trading and the current president as to who the current public officer is. This was Meryl’s position after her presidency ended, and it seems from the contact details that she is no longer Public Officer. Update: NSW Fair Trading have confirmed (18/05/2015) that Meryl Dorey is listed as the current Public Officer. So what does she actually do in that role, then?

The change in contact details follows the recent donation drive on the 13th of April 2015 to establish a fighting fund “to oppose government moves to force families to decide between vaccinating their children or putting food on the table.” So where is the money going? Have we seen any use of this money to oppose these Government moves? No. Or even to help the families? Again, the answer is no. So where is the money going? Well at Level 14 Lumley House, 309 Kent Street in Sydney, we find Serviced Offices International, who provide, amongst other services, phone answering and mail handling services. The cheapest plan that covers both (as per the AVSN’s listed contact details) is $195/month, and the receptionist confirmed that the AVSN were paying for it.

Based on the above information, I have written to the new domain and web site owner to clarify some points:

Dear Mr Payne
I’m writing a blog post on how the AVSN no longer officially holds a number of digital assets, and I noticed that your association, the Australian Vaccination News – Risks, Information, Scepticism & Empowerment, Inc., now holds the domain (and therefore the web site of) avn.org.au.
I am wondering what your relationship is with the AVSN—I assume you are a relative of (former?) AVSN committee member Kaye Payne / Marskell, please correct me if I’m wrong—and what arrangement you have with the AVSN to operate a web site that still carries their name, logo, and contact details?
Also, I’m wondering if you still volunteer for St John ambulance service and if so, do you meet all of their vaccination requirements?


Dr Matthew Berryman

Moruya Chiro and “Wellness”

On the 20th of October, 2014, I wrote the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to make the following complaint:

Well-adjusted babies

On the 8th of October, Moruya Chiro and Wellness (ABN 98 527 501 549) stated that

We have a great collection of wellness resources for you. Come in to browse our library – some of them have been donated by clients. You are welcome to borrow any of our books on short-term loan.

As you can see in the screenshot image one of these books is Well Adjusted Babies which contains a chapter, in which one finds:

  • Claims that vaccination is ineffective:

Should the artificial immunity diminish and the individual be re-exposed to the antigens as a teenager or adult, the health consequences are unknown. It is suggested that the severity of experiencing these diseases increases with age and can often be fatal.

A well-nourished child will go through rubella, whooping cough, chicken pox and the rest with flying colours. Only the vaccinated develop atypical forms of the diseases (atypical measles, mumps and whooping cough) which are much more dangerous.

  • Claims that homeopathic vaccination is an alternative:

Homeopathic vaccinations are an effective and safe alternative to conventional innoculations and warrant your investigation.

Whooping cough is often slow to develop and may respond well to conservative management, including chiropractic, osteopathy, homeopathy, herbs, acupuncture or acupressure.

I am concerned that patients attending the Moruya Chiro and Wellness are provided with misinformation about vaccination, which can lead to a risk of illness or death.

Moruya Chiro and Wellness's bookshelf
Moruya Chiro and Wellness’s bookshelf

Cure cancer naturally

On the 11th of October, Morura Chiro and Wellness then posted an advert to the Truth About Cancer video series to be made available for free, based on a book. In particular the claim is made that one can: Find out how to prevent and treat cancer 100% naturally” both on the Facebook post and on the linked website, which reads:

28 Doctors, 11 Scientists, 9 Survivors And 1 “FDA Dragon Slaying” Attorney Break Their ‘Code Of Silence’ And Expose The TRUTH About Cancer And Exactly How To Prevent, Treat And Beat it 100% Naturally

Facebook post about cancer miracle “cure”.
Facebook post about cancer miracle “cure”.

Having reviewed this page and the trailer video,

I am concerned that members of the public are being provided with misleading information about cancer treatment by Moruya Chiro and Wellness. In particular the video recommends that people avoid tested and recommended treatments for cancer in favour of a natural miracle “cure”.

Further, I note that Moruya Chiro and Wellness removed the two warnings from a member of the public (as captured in the screenshot before they were removed), which link to both the TGA page on medicines and medical devices over the Internet (which contains a warning on wild claims particularly around miracle cures), and the ACCC Scamwatch warning on miracle cure scams.

I believe this advertisement is in breach of the following aspects of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code, which states that advertisements:

  • 4(2)(a) must not arouse unrealistic or unwarranted expectations of product effectiveness.

  • 4(2)(b) must not be likely to lead to self-diagnosis or inappropriate self-treatment of potentially serious diseases.

  • 4(2)(g) must not claim that the advertised product is magical or infallible.

  • 4(2)(h) must not claim that the advertised product is invariably effective.

  • 4(2)(i) must not claim that goods are completely safe, harmless, or free of side-effects.

  • 5 must not refer to serious conditions such as cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, or mental illness (subject to exceptions).


I received the following response from the TGA on the 28th of October, 2014:

Dear Matthew,

The TGA has been forwarded the attached complaint by the Complaints Resolution Panel.

The TGA has assessed the complaint and determined that no further action can be taken as the material does not appear to promote a therapeutic good and instead appears to relate to ‘health services’ and books. As such this material would be outside of the TGA’s jurisdiction.

You may wish to raise this matter with your State Health Department or the ACCC who may be able to take further action.

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), however, followed up with Moruya Chiro and Wellness, who, as per the below letter, removed the materials in question. Well done to the HCCC for following up on this and keeping me informed as to progress, in addition to allowing me to check that the materials had indeed be removed before closing the case.

Response to my complaint to the HCCC
Response to my complaint to the HCCC

bash, OS X dhcp, and you

tl;dr: OS X is not vulnerable to shellshock exploitation via DHCP. So the shellshock bug is kinda nasty for anything running bash, particularly if you have services like Apache (and particularly with CGI scripts that use bash) open to the world. There are already active remote exploits as well as local exploits that target applications like VMWare Fusion (example). OS X comes with a vulnerable bash, and if you don’t want to wait (e.g. you are running Apache to the world) then you can update using these instructions. Now since DHCPclient implementations on Linux can be vulnerable this raises the question as to whether OS X is vulnerable to an attack via DHCP https://twitter.com/diodesign/status/515217019008856064 Looking at the Apple write of bootp (which handles BOOTP and DHCP in OS X starting with 10.0 and also looking into 10.1 and 10.9.4 (the latest for which source is downloadable), there are no calls to system() so we’re all good on that front. There is, however, in all of them, a call to popen, which sits inside tftp_get(). Thanks to Joe Vennix for pointing this out: https://twitter.com/joevennix/status/515254979473321984 Reading the man page for popen() reveals: > The command argument is a pointer to a null-terminated string containing a shell command line. This command is passed to /bin/sh, using the -c flag; interpretation, if any, is performed by the shell. That is called in the version supplied with 10.0: ./bsdpc.tproj/bsdpc.c: local_filename = tftp_get(inet_ntoa(server), path, &len, 5); Reader ErichL (see comments) points out that early versions of OS X (actually 10.0-10.2, not 10.3) didn’t come with bash, and Alastair points out that while the login shell was tcsh, the system shell was probably BSD’s Bourne shell, also not the GNU project’s Bourne Again SHell (which fits with the BSD heritage of OS X). So 10.0 isn’t affected.

The tftp_get() function is not called in the version supplied with 10.1, nor in 10.9.4 (and I assume fairly safely everwhere in between). Reader ErichL further points out that 10.8+ use configd instead of bootp (the software) and checking that code doesn’t reveal any system or popen calls. I’ve also tested the latest developer build of 10.10 (Yosemite) using some OS X-supplied DTrace magic, which reveals no spawning of bash or sh under a normal DHCP connection (i.e. no fancy options). The commands I used for checking are: sudo execsnoop -c sh sudo execsnoop -c bash I hope the above has been of some help getting to grips with shellshock on OS X and welcome feedback on this blog, or if it pertains to the patch script then leave a comment on the gist itself. Kudos and thanks to Yinette and Rob for their hard work on shellshock more generally.

Universal Medicine cult wins Lismore Chamber of Commerce’s People’s Choice Award

Upon learning that the Universal Medicine cult recently won the Lismore Chamber of Commerce’s People’s Choice Award, I wondered whether it was as a result of vote spamming, as they have a prior form for that. So I wrote to the Lismore Chamber of Commerce to enquire further about their win:

Dear Madam/Sir,

I am writing an article on Universal Medicine winning the Lismore Chamber of Commerce’s People’s Choice Award, and invite your response on the following questions:
* Do you have any comment on the fact that a new-age esoteric breast and ovary massage “healer” group has won the People’s Choice awards?
* Do you think it reasonable that a charity is eligible for this award, instead of restricting eligibility to regular Lismore business for this award?
* Who was eligible to vote in the People’s Choice award?
* What if any measures were taken to prevent vote spamming by members / followers of this group?

Dr Matthew Berryman

I received the following response:

Dear Dr. Berryman
Re your email of Aug. 25th concerning the People’s Choice Award, the general public voted for their chosen business (s) so the award went to the business that received the most votes…just like an election. The voting rules were publicised prior to the awards night and the Chamber had nothing to do with the selection of the winning business…it was as the name implies, The People’s Choice Award.
I hope this answers your questions satisfactorily.

So, in other words, they have no comment other than to point out the eligibility criteria for votes, which are simply that anyone could have lodged a vote through either the Lismore Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page (poll obviously no longer appears) or through a nomination form available from the Northern Star newspaper. Thus, it was open to spamming by any business—and Universal Medicine is registered as a business, apparently you can sell kooky beliefs—that can get members / customers to vote. Their win is just further evidence of the grip they have over their members, and I wonder in the absence of that which deserving Lismore business might have won this award.