The charitable status of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network Incorporated (formerly the Australian Vaccination Network – AVN) has been revoked following an investigation by the Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing (OLGR).
OLGR’s investigation sourced ‘expert medical evidence challenging the accuracy of information provided on the association’s website in relation to the risks and benefits of vaccination,’ according to liquor, gaming and racing minister, George Souris.
‘The investigation highlighted a range of potential concerns, including risks arising from the association’s anti-vaccination advocacy and the potential for misinformation to influence important health decisions resulting in potentially adverse public health consequences.
‘OLGR issued a “show cause” notice to the association requiring it to respond in writing on why its Authority to Fundraise should not be revoked,’ Mr Souris said.
‘As a result, the association has now surrendered its Authority to Fundraise to OLGR effective immediately.’
As of this morning, the AVN website makes no mention of the change, with one article prominently featured on the site referring to its ‘reinstatement of our authority to fundraise on the 18th of April, 2012.’
Fair Trading minister Stuart Ayres said the association recently changed its name, to the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network Incorporated, following a direction from Fair Trading and an Administrative Decisions Tribunal decision requiring it to adopt a name accurately reflecting its scepticism about vaccinations.
‘I warn members of the public against making donations to this organisation.
‘NSW government agencies will continue to monitor the organisation’s activities to ensure it does not fundraise for a charitable purpose.’
Under the Charitable Fundraising Act, if an organisation intends to fundraise for a charitable purpose it must be the holder of an Authority to Fundraise.
Th authority can be revoked if determined to be in the public interest. One of the objects of the Charitable Fundraising Act is to prevent deception of members of the public who desire to support worthy causes.