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October 19, 2021

Anti-vaxxer group forced to produce fundraising records

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Bangalow-based anti-vaccination group the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (AVN) will be forced to produce records of its fundraising activities as part of a Fair Trading investigation confirmed last week.

The group lost its charitable status back in March 2014 after then Fair Trading minister Stuart Ayres said an investigation had ‘highlighted a number of potential concerns.’

The following year the group launched a High Court challenge against the federal government’s controversial No Jab, No Pay policy and, despite the ban, called on donations to help them fund it.

In October 2016, AVN’s president, Tasha David, wrote to members informing them ‘our fundraising at this point stands at just over $160,000,’ according to The Australian newspaper.

But by the end of the year the group had abandoned the challenge after apparently being advised it would fail.

At that stage the total cost of advice, according to emails sent to members, amounted to $72,500, the report said.

It continued, ‘the AVN suggested the remaining funds would be put to uses such as pursuing the Therapeutic Goods Adminis­tration for “misfeasance in public office” or lobbying MPs for a royal commission into vaccinations.’

Fair Trading has now served papers on AVN meaning they must produce ‘various records in relation to their fundraising activity,’ according to Better Regulation minister Matt Kean.

‘There has been sufficient concern about AVN’s potential breaches of the Act to warrant a thorough look at the group’s fundraising activity,’ he said.

‘I make no apologies for taking whatever action is necessary to ensure this group – and any other brought to my attention – complies with the Act.

‘If you seek public donations for a charitable purpose, there are circumstances where you need an authority to do so, and I’m focused on making sure this group is obeying the law.

‘Members of the public make charitable donations in good faith. The law is there to protect them and I can assure the community that breaches will not be tolerated,’ Mr Kean said.

A spokesperson for the minister told Echonetdaily that the investigation would look into all aspects of AVN’s fundraising practises and not merely focus on the High Court Challenge.

Breaches of the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991 may constitute a criminal offence.

Echonetdaily has approached AVN for comment but has yet to receive a response.


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  1. AVN is a misinformed and dangerous group misleading the public with false outdated information endangering everybody’s kids by blatantly lying about side effects of vaccines, now they can ad questionable fundraising practises, it’s time to disband this useless dangerous organization

  2. New York University research scholar and law professor Mary Holland recently addressed the United Nations at the 25th International Health and Environment Conference.
    Professor Holland has been one of the lone voices in the U.S. addressing the legal ramifications of removing parental rights to informed consent for childhood vaccines (in the last couple of years states have voted to remove parental informed consent from US statues).
    Professor Holland states:
    [T]he UN and the international community have obligations to respect human rights related to vaccination.
    Since World War II, the international community has recognized the grave dangers in involuntary scientific and medical experimentation on human subjects.  In the aftermath of Nazi medical atrocities, the world affirmed the Nuremberg Code which stated that the “voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.” The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights further enshrined this prohibition against involuntary experimentation in its 1966 text, stating “no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.”
    As the US marches to eliminate parental rights to informed consent for childhood vaccines, some US policy makers are eyeing Australia’s fascist approach to eliminating parental rights to informed consent. However any State that takes parental rights to informed consent is a violation of the Nuremberg Code which stated that the “voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.”

    This looks like a witch hunt against the one group pushing parental rights to informed consent for childhood vaccines.

    • The vaccination of children is not experimental – it is well proven and is done to reduce the risk to the child and the community. It is the latter interest that gives government a mandate to discourage or restrict the number of unvaccinated children, particularly in infectious situations like childcare. The Nazis conducted horrific experiments on Jews, before killing their subjects. To compare the actions of our democratically elected governments, carrying out the will of the community that their children not be exposed to disease, with those of the Nazis is nonsense, and shows little understanding of the horrors that led to the Nuremburg trials, and as such a marked lack of judgement. We have world renown epidemiological bodies in this country – I funded several of them to undertake research for our aid programme in PNG and in Bangladesh – and a well established system of disseminating their findings and advice to public health bodies and GPs. Why then is there a need for others to provide advice to parents, when those parents need only follow the advice of public health agencies, or discuss with their GPs if they have any concerns about the particular matter . As such I would question the need or role for AVN. In conclusion I would note that it is not a witch hunt to examine the fund-raising of this organisation. Under administrative arrangements, Ministers are required to ensure compliance with the Acts that fall under their portfolios – it is not a discretionary matter.

      • And what is your opinion on the human trials that were conducted on black babies from (I think) Nigeria where many died as a result of being given the vaccine – and then the same trials were conducted in USA on black children – to see if there was the same effect. Where did I hear this? From Robert Kennedy Jnr – Environmental Lawyer.

        • What is under discussion Liora is the vaccination of children in Australia and that vaccination is not experimental. In respect of your comment below concerning “herd mentality”- the term is “herd immunity”. Those who do not vaccinate their children are protected to a point because the majority of the “herd”, our population, is immunised – they and their children are free-riding on everyone-else’s common sense and diligence. If too many people are not immunised and disease spreads then the herd immunity is lost and we are all he loosers. That is why there is a public interest in all parents following the advice of our public health authorities and GPs on immunisation issues.

    • Anti-vaxxer “witch hunt”? Don’t be ridiculous!! Read the article. Fair Trading’s investigation relates to Bangalow AVN’s compliance/non-compliance with the Act, financial accountability etc and would be routine procedure when concerns arise with any ‘organisation’. Inference of otherwise is fantasy…

    • The Associate Editor of the British Medical Journal disagrees with your perspective:

      “It does matter if the vast majority of doctors or scientists agree on something. But medical journalists should be among the first to realise that while evidence matters, so too do the legitimate concerns of patients. And if patients have concerns, doubts, or suspicions — for example, about the safety of vaccines, this does not mean they are “anti-vaccine.” Anti-vaccine positions certainly exist in the world, but approaches that label anybody and everybody who raises questions about the right headedness of current vaccine policies — myself included — as “anti-vaccine” fail on several accounts.

      Firstly, they fail to accurately characterise the nature of the concern. Many parents of children with developmental disorders who question the role of vaccines had their children vaccinated. Anti-vaccination is an ideology, and people who have their children vaccinated seem unlikely candidates for the title.

      Secondly, they lump all vaccines together as if the decision about risks and benefits is the same irrespective of disease — polio, pertussis, smallpox, mumps, diphtheria, hepatitis B, influenza, varicella, HPV, Japanese encephalitis — or vaccine type — live attenuated, inactivated whole cell, split virus, high dose, low dose, adjuvanted, monovalent, polyvalent, etc. This seems about as intelligent as categorising people into “pro-drug” and “anti-drug” camps depending on whether they have ever voiced concern over the potential side effects of any drug.

      Thirdly, labelling people concerned about the safety of vaccines as “anti-vaccine” risks entrenching positions. The label (or its derogatory derivative “anti-vaxxer”) is a form of attack. It stigmatises the mere act of even asking an open question about what is known and unknown about the safety of vaccines.

      Fourthly, the label too quickly assumes that there are “two sides” to every question, and that the “two sides” are polar opposites. This “you’re either with us or against us” thinking is unfit for medicine. Many parents who deliberate on decisions regarding their children’s health ultimately make decisions — such as to vaccinate or not vaccinate — with lingering uncertainty about whether they were right. When given a choice, some say yes to some vaccines and no to others. These parents are not zealots, they are decision makers navigating the grey, acting under conditions of uncertainty in perpetual flux.

      And among those uncertainties are the known and unknown side effects that each vaccine carries. Contrary to the suggestion — generally implicit — that vaccines are risk free (and therefore why would anyone ever resist official recommendations), the reality is that officially sanctioned written medical information on vaccines is — just like drugs — filled with information about common, uncommon, and unconfirmed but possible harms.

      Although MMR and autism have dominated journalistic coverage of this issue, and journalists have correctly characterised the scientific consensus that rejects any such link, most journalists have insufficiently acknowledged the fact that bodies such as the Institute of Medicine have “found convincing evidence of health outcomes —including seizures, inflammation of the brain, and fainting — that can be caused by certain vaccines, although these outcomes occur rarely.” And for 135 other adverse events investigated, the committee concluded “the evidence was inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship” with vaccines.

      Medical journalists have an obligation to the truth. But journalists must also ensure that patients come first, which means a fresh approach to covering vaccines. It’s time to listen — seriously and respectfully — to patients’ concerns, not demonise them.”

      Peter Doshi associate editor, The BMJ
      BMJ 2017;356:j661 doi: 10.1136/bmj.j661 (Published 2017 February 07)

      • The BMJ is a professional journal aimed at medical professionals. It is quite appropriate that it advises those professionals on how to deal sensitively and respectfully with patents who have concerns with vaccinations, and appropriate too that it points out to professionals the limitations of vaccination It is quite another thing to draw on the journal – or to cherry pick from academic or professional journals – to try and sway the general public. Leave that to GPs who we should expect to read the BMJ or local equivalents and let them inform the public, and leave the academic debates about vaccination where they belong, in medical and epidemiological research bodies.

    • If you can find real science that hasnt been influenced by corperate and industry pressure. They said cigarettes were harmless. DDT safe.

      “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.” Dr Richard Horton, Editor in Chief the Lancet

      “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine” Dr. Marcia Angell, a physician and longtime Editor in Chief of the New England Medical Journal

      • Justin After the link was established in the 50s between smoking and lung cancer the “real science” on the matter was never in doubt, and any attempts by the tobacco industry to try and influence the views of the medical profession were pretty much a total failure. The anti-smoking messages quickly spread in counties like Australia so none of the doctors or other health professionals I knew growing up in the Bay and later in rural QLD suggested to their clients that smoking was ok. The few doctors who did smoke set a very poor example – Fred Hollows come to mind – butt they were very much the exception. The tobacco industry was more successful at influencing ordinary people, because they were allowed to spread their insidious message direct to the public through advertising, while ordinary people who smoke in public places or anywhere else the re are young people continue to provide a very poor example. The lesson is clear. Health messages are better disseminated by public health authorities and qualified health professionals like chemists and GPs; others should refrain from providing unqualified opinions and from presenting poor health models to others. . So it is with vaccination – ordinary people should butt out of trying to influence others, leave the debates to the medical research community and epidemiologists, and leave the dissemination of information to public health bodies, GPs and other properly qualified health professionals.

  3. vaccines have done so much damage to this species and their is now so much evidence proving how damaging and ineffective they are that it boggles the mind that there are still people out there so willing to swallow the government lies … especially when one considers the track record of these sumbags

    • The lies that you refer to are written by health professionals who are public servants. They are bound by codes of conducts that prohibit them from being knowingly untruthful, and to do so is a breach of their code and as such a breach of the relevant public service act. They cannot be ordered by government to disseminate lies – that would not be a lawful direction as it would cause them to breach their code and so their act if they followed the direction. If you believe a public health official has lied you can raise your concern with the relevant agency or public service authority. You would need then to show that the information they provide is untruthful and the individual has provided it knowingly and deliberately. You would not need to prove the misdemeanor that you allege beyond reasonable doubt – the case is decided on the balance of probability. You would not succeed of course because not only would you not be able to show the person deliberately chose to misinform, you would be unable to show in the face of independent expert advice that the information provided was untruthful. Our government’s public servants are subject to scrutiny and accountability – it is most unusual to find that they have indeed lied.

  4. Anti-vaxers are the great health bludgers. They get the herd immunity without taking any responsibility. They spout discredited pseudoscience and mythical anecdotal evidence to support their fear of BIG BAD VAX-o-saurus. It is really sad and right up their with chem-trails for madness.

    Do your bit for herd immunity. Get vaccinated.

    People that don’t are cheats.

    Don’t just read the pseudoscience. Read the science, talk to your GP, listen to the Department of Health Specialists. Either they are all evil colluders (all of them), or…you’ve got it wring people.

    • If vaxxers are worried about the unvaccinated infecting them then clearly vaccination does not provide protection , herd immunity theory originally applied to the unvaccinated who had gone through a disease and thereby gained natural immunity.

  5. Smallpox, Polio, Measles, Hepatitis, Diphtheria, Tuberculosis and a myriad of others have been stopped and millions of people saved by vaccinations. What are all you conspiracy theorists on about? Remember the plague and the outbreaks of many of these diseases throughout time, were they all made up by wealthy pharmaceutical companies as well to brainwash the masses?

    If you don’t vaccinate your children you are putting countless others at risk. Case closed.

    Here is a good article by UNICEF on vaccinations and some of the great things that they have done for human health and resilience to disease – https://www.unicef.org/pon96/hevaccin.htm

    • And what about the decline in Scarlet Fever at the same time – to which there has never been a vaccine. It’s so easy for people who have not experienced the decline of a loved child to talk about herd mentality.


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