In June 2015 the banner for avn.org.au was changed to read “Greater accountability, transparency and, ultimately, responsibility. Changes coming soon to avn.org.au”. Now, aside from a slight reorganisation of the site, and additional material on No Jab No Pay & No Jab No Play legislation, I can’t see what has substantially changed, and indeed the site banner still reads “changes coming soon to avn.org.au.au”. Given it’s now almost February 2016, I have to say that’s a rather odd definition of “soon”. How can you be taken seriously on science when you don’t understand what a four letter word means?
Tim also claimed “We have been working hard behind the scenes to create a strong platform for change.” However, the No Jab No Pay and No Jab No Play legislation has passed, and there’s still no sign of any legal action to challenge it. Indeed, there’s not even any sign of who the AVN’s president currently is, the term of the president expired a whole month ago now. You may claim that “Responsibility starts here” but for all intents and purposes the AVN has been stopped, and looks merely like a money making venture for the committee members, who remain unknown in breach of the law.
Yours, in anticipation of greater accountability, transparency and, ultimately, responsibility,
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…
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
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.
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
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
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.
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) rapeanalogies—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:
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:
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.
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:
Despite this, the page still carries the name and logo of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc.:
It also carries the current contact details of the AVSN:
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:
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?
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?
I have been speaking with a lawyer, who pointed out to me that liability could arise if an adverse event was suffered as a result of information provided by the AVN or any other exhibitors for that matter. With the right to freedom of speech comes great responsibility, and I am sure that you would be seeking that your exhibitors have public liability insurance that covered such events. I note in fact that your exhibitors kit states: “In particular, the Exhibitor must confirm that the Public Liability Insurance policy held by them covers risks associated with display or merchandise at this Exhibition by the Exhibitor and covers YCHY FOUNDATION and Events”.
Exhibitors would therefore be obliged to report any pertinent details to their insurer regarding the information they provide / devices they sell / etc., such as the HCCC public warning in the case of the AVN, or that your official chiropractor makes false claims to treat autism and HIV. The reason I am raising this with you is that I am concerned, based on rather strong (and I might add defamatory) remarks by Meryl, that she may not have public liability insurance, and that if she does, she may not have advised her insurer of the risks identified by the HCCC in their report. Can you please confirm whether you have received a copy of the AVN’s public liability insurance or not; if so can you please advise me who the insurer is so I can liaise with the Insurance Fraud Bureau of Australia regarding the AVN’s compliance with disclosure regulations.
Dr Matthew Berryman
Expo organiser Mr Pina-Roozemond responded rather promptly with:
Thanks for the email, just letting you know that I do indeed have a copy of the relevant insurance document. Taking your lead I called the insurance company to verify that everything was in order and it is.
I’m not entirely convinced that Mrs Dorey would be entirely covered in the event that someone did take her advice seriously, ended up ill, and sued, but I’m not an expert on law or insurance. I am however pleased that the Expo organisers have considered this, and warned of the dangers of Mrs Dorey’s views and are providing pro-vaccination material:
Whilst I do take offence at Mrs Robinson having falsely described my robust but polite debate as bullying, I am more offended to hear of bad behaviour on both sides of this issue. I hope the above exchange between myself and Mr. Pina-Roozemond serves as a good example.
Despite claims of the AVSN being an open book, the financial details remain something of a mystery. Why are your computing costs so high, for example—it looks like you are purchasing new computers every year, which seems excessive, along with your web hosting—and I deal routinely with these costs in my job. Also, were the professional fees for accounting, for lawyers, or some combination thereof? Unlike Stop the AVN, I can’t see any money being spent directly on helping parents. Can you outline on which items in your budget the donations were put to, exactly?
To which the President of the AVN responds
I will not enter into any discussion with you regarding any deeper aspects of our financial affairs.
“…or provide documentary evidence for their claims, many of which were either demonstrably or intentionally incorrect.” Say, for example, thisor thisor this.