Monthly Archives: November 2013

Australian Vaccination Network has a bad week.

Last Wednesday the Australian Vaccination Network sent out a newsletter containing the usual lunacy about government conspiracies. Of course they are right about the conspiracy, a lot of people really are working to have them shut down.

The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) was originally set up to protect the public from dangerous health practitioners. They were to be an independent overseer that could adjudicate whenever there was a question of someone being harmed by treatments – an all-too common event in Australia. According to their website, they describe themselves as being: “an independent body to deal with complaints about health service providers in NSW.”

Yes Meryl, that is precisely why they are working to have you shut down. They have already received the complaints and now they are acting on them.

The HCCC can truly be said to be above the law in NSW. To the best of our knowledge, it is one of only two bodies in the country which are not subject to subpoena (a court order to produce documentation) or Freedom of Information (called GIPA in NSW) claims. The other organisation is the Australian Crimes Commission. These exemptions mean that the HCCC is able to operate in secret should they wish to do so.

Without even Googling I can confirm that ACMA, ASD and ASIO are also exempt from Freedom of Information requests. Even departments without exemption still have the right to refuse disclosure of sensitive information. But of course in loon-town that means it must be some massive government conspiracy.

But these powers were obviously not enough because after 2012, it appealed to the NSW Parliament for a virtual blank cheque to  investigate, cite and punish the AVN and any other organisation or individual who goes against government health policy. Now, not only can they choose to investigate any complaint from anyone about our group or others, even if they have never dealt with or been harmed in any way by these organisations or individuals – the HCCC can also file their own complaints and then, investigate and adjudicate them. Judge, jury and executioner – that is the power Parliament granted to the HCCC – all to ‘get’ the AVN.

The police don’t have to receive any complaint in order to arrest a person for breaking the law. Imagine how stupid it would be if the police could only arrest a lawbreaker after someone lodged an official complaint. Of course stupid is the AVNs way of thinking.

Then on Friday the AVN sent out another newsletter. To sell office equipment:

In addition, I am just getting photos done now but just giving you a head’s up that we will be selling off filing cabinets, computers and other office equipment. If you are in the market for some really good quality gear at a great price, please keep your eyes open and wait for our next newsletter. 

When a company starts getting rid of it’s office furniture it usually means one thing. So this is a very promising newsletter. Immediately following was the reason for the sale.

The long-awaited decision of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) will be handed down on Monday, November 25th in Sydney. As you probably remember, the Department of Fair Trading via the Minister for Fair Trading has demanded that the Australian Vaccination Network change its name. We have appealed against that decision and will hear the result of that appeal next week.

It seems strange that a furniture sale should come before mention of the court case. But then Meryl Dorey always did make money her number one priority. So to celebrate the AVNs impending doom myself and Peter Bowditch enjoyed a beer in the pub.

I sent the photo to Meryl as a reminder that we haven’t forgotten her.

Greetings Ms Dorey,

Myself and Mr Bowditch are drinking beer in your dishonor.  The funds from your unsuccessful AVO appeal are certainly coming in handy at this time so it seems only fitting that we should send you this photo as proof that your money is well spent.

P.S good luck in court tomorrow. 

Your friend,

~Dan Buzzard

We then had to wait until Monday for the decision to be handed down, and it was everything we had hoped for.

The Australian Vaccination Network Inc (AVN) has been directed to change its name. The main reason the Director General of the Department of Finance and Services gave for making that direction was that the name is likely to mislead the public in relation to the nature, objects or functions of AVN. The Director General found that AVN’s message is anti-vaccination and that the name does not reflect that message. Two other reasons the Director General relied on were that the name is “undesirable” and that it suggests a connection with the Commonwealth government.

AVN applied to the Tribunal for a review of that decision. I have decided that the decision to direct AVN to adopt a new name is the correct and preferable decision. But my conclusion is not based on a finding that AVN’s message is exclusively anti-vaccination, that the name suggests a connection with the Commonwealth government or that the name itself is undesirable.

AVN’s main object is the dissemination of information and opinions that highlight the risks of vaccinations. AVN is sceptical about vaccinations. The existing name, Australian Vaccination Network Inc, suggests that the association is pro vaccination or, at least, is committed to providing comprehensive information and opinions about the pros and cons of vaccination. The name should be changed so that it is not likely to mislead the public in relation to its main object. Although I do not have to decide this issue, a name that includes the word “risk” or “sceptic” such as Vaccination Risk Awareness Association Inc or Vaccination Sceptics Network Inc would, in my opinion, be acceptable. The name could also include the word “Australia” or “Australian” without suggesting a link to government.

<Redacted: check link for full text.>

In my view, to be acceptable, the name should reflect AVN’s scepticism about vaccinations. Although I do not have to decide this issue, and my opinion is not binding, a name that includes the word “risk” or “sceptic” and vaccine or vaccination would be acceptable. Examples include Vaccination Risk Awareness Association Inc or Vaccine Sceptics Network Inc. Other combinations of those words would, in my opinion, be acceptable. The name could also include the word “Australia” or “Australian” without suggesting a link to the Commonwealth government. Of course, these are not the only names that may be acceptable.

Order: The decision of the Director General, Department of Finance and Services to direct Australian Vaccination Network Inc to adopt a new name is affirmed.

Administrative Decisions Tribunal New South Wales


THE Australian Vaccination Network has again been ordered to change its misleading name after it yesterday lost an appeal in the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.

The original action was brought against the AVN in January by the Department of Fair Trading, which issued a directive to the AVN to change its name “because it had the potential to mislead the public”. The ADT upheld NSW Fair Trading’s direction.

Magistrate Nancy Hennessy found the name suggested the ”association is pro-vaccination or, at least, is committed to providing comprehensive information and opinions about the pros and cons”.

”The name should be changed so it is not likely to mislead the public in relation to its main object,” Ms Hennessy said. Daily Telegraph

This has been a bad week for the AVN.

Homeopathy to be tested in Federal Court.

Back in February I mentioned the Homeopathy Plus was being taken to court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for making false and misleading claims about the efficacy of Homeopathy.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted Federal Court proceedings over allegedly misleading claims on a homeopathy website regarding the effectiveness of the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine.

The ACCC has taken proceeding against Homeopathy Plus! Australia Pty Ltd and against the owners of the Homeopathy Plus! website.

The claims on the Homeopathy Plus! website include statements that the whooping cough vaccine is “unreliable” and “largely ineffective” in preventing whooping cough and that homeopathic remedies are a safe and effective alternative for the prevention and treatment of whooping cough.

The ACCC alleges that these claims are misleading and deceptive, in breach of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

The ACCC is seeking an injunction to have the claims removed, as well as penalties against the company and individuals.

Whooping cough is a highly infectious respiratory disease which is most serious in young children. The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing recommends children receive the whooping cough vaccine as part of routine childhood immunisation. ACCC Public Release

Fran Sheffield of Homeopathy Plus sent out a media release earlier this year with more indepth details of the case. 

At the Directions Hearing in the Federal Court last Friday (March 1, 2013), the ACCC sought immediate orders and a fast-tracked date for when the case would be heard in full.

So what was the outcome of this hearing? Thanks to excellent representation by our barrister, the Justice removed the fast-tracking; the case is now scheduled for late August, at which time we intend to defend our position vigorously. In the meantime we have agreed to remove the pages in question from our website until the case is heard.

There is still a long way to go. The case is significant and a lot is at stake – not just for us but for anyone who accesses and wants to continue to access information on vaccines and healthcare from an alternative viewpoint.

When our case reaches court in August, the following questions will be asked:

  1. Were our statements about the efficacy of the whooping cough vaccine correct; and
  2. Is there evidence to show that homeopathy can treat and prevent whooping cough?

You may be wondering if the repercussions of this case will extend beyond Homeopathy Plus, my husband and myself. You may also wonder if a precedent will be set that not only affects the practice of homeopathy in Australia but also the practice and supply of information by many other complementary and alternative therapies. And, like others, you may be asking, “Is it fair for someone to be prosecuted by a government agency just for questioning certain aspects of government health policy and offering an alternative view?”

We have received advice that the right to publicly question government information about vaccines and provide alternative information on homeopathy will be a central issue in this case (i.e. the extent of those rights and when they can be censored) so obviously, important issues are at stake.

We cannot say more at this time about the details of the case, but we hope this has gone some way to explaining its significance. We need your support and are asking you to help in a number of important areas. Fran Sheffield, Homeopathy Plus

Finally after several months of silence. Fran Sheffield has once again sent out another update confirming the date of November 18th and begging for donations. The Australian Vaccination Network passed on Fran’s letter to their followers asking for $11,500.

I’m Fran Sheffield and I have an emergency.

On November 18 I will be in the Federal Court of Australia defending homeopathy against claims by the ACCC that it is a misleading and deceptive practice.

This all came about because of statements on our website saying homeopathy could be helpful in the treatment and prevention of whooping cough.

I also stated that the whooping cough vaccine was ineffective and dangerous – statements which I backed up with references to peer-reviewed articles and government data.

Surprisingly, the vaccine-related comments should be easy to defend as those statements were drawn from the mouths of government authorities – they were not just my thoughts.

The same should be true for the homeopathic statements but that isn’t the case.

We all know that homeopathy treats and prevents whooping cough – we have the historical records and accounts going back for over 100 years and we’ve seen it repeatedly in our clinics during the recent epidemic.

But because we as homeopaths and the organisations that represent us have chosen appeasement and conciliation in recent years rather than firm statements of what we know to be true, it will now make our defence in Court so much harder.

I urgently need your help. My fight is your fight and $11,500.00 has to be raised over the next week to fund our legal team’s final preparations.

If you are a homeopath, someone who uses homeopathy, or an allied alternative health practitioner I hope you will help as the outcome of this case will affect you.

If the ACCC is allowed to stop us sharing important homeopathic information that is in the public interest a precedent will be set that allows them to do the same with you – as a practitioner you can look to a future in which you will be limited in what you say, and as a user of alternative therapies you will be restricted in what you can hear.

As a result of endless complaints over the past 8 years by those hostile to homeopathy it was inescapable that this matter should end up in court.

Appeasement on our part was not an option as it would have produced the exact result we are now fighting to avoid, only earlier – their goal of having valuable homeopathic information withdrawn and suppressed would have been successful.

Instead of capitulating under the pressure we decided it was time to draw a line in the sand and say, enough is enough – this far and no further! The erosion of our rights as homeopaths and the rights of our patients has to stop. We hope you agree.

I realise that this is a difficult time for everyone but this is a serious situation that will affect you as well as me. It is important for each of us that a strong defence is mounted in this case. Can you see your way clear to donating $100 before the end of this week to ensure that happens? Can you donate the fee of your next consult? If $100 is too much, please consider giving what you can – any amount would truly be appreciated and will certainly make a difference. Contributions to the Fighting Fund can be made in one of the following ways:

They say “A fool and his money are soon parted.” so I’ve no doubt the AVN supporters will be successfully fleeced for the money. Although no amount of charity scams is going to allow these crooks to escape justice. These people think they’re invisible and above the law, as shown by Sheffield making the same claim (that Homeopathy treats Whooping Cough) that got her into so much trouble in the first place.

If these people where honest they would not be facing the wrath of the ACCC.