Tag Archives: AVSN

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 AUSTRALIAN VACCINATION NEWS – RISKS, INFORMATION, SCEPTICISM & EMPOWERMENT, INCORPORATED
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?

regards

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?

Regards,

Dr Matthew Berryman

“Healthy Lifestyle” Expo and the “Great” “Debate”.

Update: It appears Aspect Caloundra have pulled out as sponsors as their logo and name no longer appear on the Expo’s list of sponsors or ongoing sponsor list, but did appear back in February.

Update 2: Clarification from the Expo that they were just slow in updating the list of sponsors and that Aspect Caloundra weren’t asked this year. Meanwhile, I wonder if the remaining sponsors including WIN TV are aware that the celebrity “psychic” thinks that the ability to wiggle a certain part of her anatomy (video not exactly safe for work) proves that mind over matter is possible. Clue to Shé: when people say “mind over matter” they don’t usually refer to the conventional nerve cell – muscle cell interaction.

An open letter to Mrs Dorey regarding her blog surrounding the “Great Debate” on vaccination.

I would like to clear up a few misconceptions that Mrs Dorey is spreading regarding me and Dr Dunlop.

First, Mrs Dorey seems, like Ms Robinson (a.k.a. Annie Infinite), to insinuate that I subscribed Ms Robinson’s email address to a number of pornographic sites.

I certainly did not do this, and at the time I repudiated it and strongly encouraged Ms Robinson to take the matter to the police. I believe in having a civilised debate.

What was on offer from The Healthy Lifestyle, or “You Can Heal Yourself” Expo was not a scientific debate, as I make clear in the correspondence below, where I declined to participate. The leading questions put as topics by the Expo leave a lot to be desired too. Another factor not discussed previously in my refusal to attend is that, unlike Mrs Dorey who puts a roof over her head through donations to the AVSN and selling misinformation, I have a regular job with commitments here in Wollongong. I am using up my leave to take my children back to China to visit their grandparents later this year.

Wayne,

There is no genuine debate when one side ignores scientific evidence. Relatedly, there is no dichotomy between science and natural therapies. Either there is scientific evidence of efficacy and safety or is there is not. The evidence on vaccination is clearly in favour of vaccination except for genuine medical exceptions, and not false concerns about autism [1, 2], etc. of the sort that the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network (AVSN) raise.
Regardless of any statements on government sites (and Google returns no hits for the quote you provided without citing a source for), there is no constitutional or other legislative blanket protection of speech, and speech on medical topics is regulated across Australia. The HCCC is currently investing the AVSN and has been preparing a warning for which I have attached the draft (not the first one they have released) – and the full draft report can be found here.
It’s disingenuous to state that the t-shirts are acceptable whilst ignoring the rest of the HCCC enquiry. Further, I wouldn’t call ignoring scientific evidence that can save lives to be loving children. It’s also disingenuous for you to claim you have no opinion on Black Salve when you have previously and illegally run advertisements and a YCHY Expo organiser has expressed her opinions.
I decline to enter into a debate for the following reasons:
*) Whilst I am qualified to speak on the statistics of risk around vaccination and vaccine-preventable diseases I am no more qualified than Mrs Dorey to speak on the detailed medical matters, and
*) False balance debates can send unhelpful messages by presenting a false view of the balance of risks. [3]
If you choose to go ahead with hosting Mrs Dorey, given her lack of scientific qualifications and evidence, in any form, then responsibility rests with you, as it does for any other medical misinformation provided in any form at the Expo.
Regards,
Dr Matthew Berryman
[1] Gerber JS, Offit PA (2009). “Vaccines and autism: a tale of shifting hypotheses”. Clin Infect Dis 48 (4): 456–61.
[2] Demicheli V, Rivetti A, Debalini MG, Di Pietrantonj C (2012). “Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children”. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2: CD004407.
[3] Dixon, Graham, and Christopher Clarke. “The effect of falsely balanced reporting of the autism–vaccine controversy on vaccine safety perceptions and behavioral intentions.” Health education research 28.2 (2013): 352-359.

 

This correspondence followed (below, sent on the 25th of March) to a number of the Expo’s sponsors, suggesting that they examine their financial support of the Expo as a whole (to which the phrase “the event” most clearly refers to), given Mrs Dorey’s attendance and other misleading health information routinely provided. This is also irrespective of whether the Expo was in turn funding her (as they mentioned to me later, they claim they are not), or whether she is running a stall or “debating”, or running a seminar. Furthermore, I noted past advertising and promotion by Ms Robinson of a stall illegally selling black salve. Mrs Dorey also repeats the defamatory remarks by the conference organisers that I resort to name calling, without providing any evidence.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I understand that [Name of Sponsor] is a sponsor of the ‘Healthy’ Lifestyle Expo 2014, also known as the ‘You Can Heal Yourself Expo’, to be held on the Sunshine Coast in May.

This event routinely promotes dangerous medical advice:

  • At last year’s expo there was a stall selling Black Salve, promoted as a do-it-yourself cancer cure; this has a strong risk of causing damage in addition to the risk that it fails to remove all the cancer, which can then spread. I have enclosed a public health warning from the Therapeutic Goods Administration about Black Salve with more information about it.
  • This year’s expo features a seminar by Mrs Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network, well known for providing anti-vaccination misinformation (with potentially fatal consequences), and currently subject to an investigation by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (draft warning enclosed), in addition to investigations by other government agencies for fraud.

I strongly urge you to support public health by withdrawing your sponsorship of this event.

Regards,

Dr Matthew Berryman

Last but not least, surrounding Mrs Dorey’s mention of Dr Dunlop, I note:

  • The Expo did not email Dr Dunlop an invitation prior to her name being mentioned as a possible debater. 10177473_10152381465720229_7787428432987499745_nPerhaps it was a case of poor communication between Expo organisers, although it’s highly suspicious that another proposed debater also did not receive an invitation:Screenshot 2014-04-11 13.00.38
  • Dr Dunlop declined to participate on the 9th of April, which is not surpising given her views on false debates.

 On 9 Apr 2014, at 14:04, Rachael Dunlop wrote:

Dear Wayne,

No thank you. Please either remove my name from the site or indicate I have declined the invitation to participate.

Kind regards

Rachael

  • I am not sure why Mrs Dorey persisted with this incorrect information well after Dr Dunlop’s email, though we cannot rule out a delay between the Expo receiving Dr Dunlop’s refusal and their subsequently informing Mrs Dorey.

Regards,

Doctor Berryman, BSc. (Maths & Comp. Sci.), BEng. (Comp. Sys. Eng.) Hons. I, PhD (Complex Systems).