Anti-vaccination group loses charitable status

An anti-vaccination group that has been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently has been stripped of its charitable status after the state government found its fund raising appeals had not been conducted in good faith. The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) came into news when in July it was ordered to publish a disclaimer on its website stating the group was anti-vaccination and its material should not be read as medical advice.

This Thursday, the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) finally took away the charitable status of AVN on the grounds it had failed to publish the disclaimer as recommended by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC). The office sent a letter to the AVN saying, “This has led to appeals not being conducted in good faith…The organisation's website is misleading in that it may lead people making donations to believe they are donating to a cause which promotes vaccination, whereas the organisation adopts an anti-vaccination position.”

The incidents started when the HCCC investigated AVN's website after complaints including one from a couple whose four-week-old daughter died from whooping cough. The parents after the death of Dana McCaffery's found that their story was being used as part of an anti-vaccination campaign when their daughter was too young to be vaccinated against whooping cough. The vaccine for this deadly disease is given after six weeks of age and Dana was only four weeks old.

Robert Booy of the National Center for Immunization and research said, “Children on the North Coast of NSW have died of pertussis [whooping cough]. Only last year a child died. Only last year another child in NSW died of varicella, or chicken pox. And these are vaccine-preventable diseases. It's a tragedy.”

At present AVN is appealing the HCCC's decision to the NSW ombudsman. According to spokeswoman Meryl Dorey, AVN is now “investigating its options” regarding a possible appeal of the OLGR's decision. She insisted the Australian Vaccination Network was not anti-vaccination and “This is a great injustice…It's not the sort of action you'd think a democratic government would take,” she said. AVN has lost the ability to appeal for donations from anyone other than the alleged 2,500 AVN members but the group insists it will continue campaigning.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. anti-pro anti-pro Australia says:

    Quite interesting what's happening with the AVN the last year or so. Industry instigated SAVN (google it) was set up to destroy the AVN by whatever means necessary, and they're doing a damn fine job.
    It's a pity there's no real investigative journalism anymore and that the public is only presented the superficial "facts".
    And one more thing, a check of our government websites indicates that they are clearly pro vaccination, to the point where adverse reactions, are at best, glossed over (that's the ones we know about as less than 10% are reported). They also ignore the fact the long the health implications of vaccination are, at best, unclear and that their effectiveness is questionable.

    Should they not be made to place a disclaimer on their websites stating that they are pro vaccination?

    • Mark Mark Australia says:

      As with most conspiracy-theorising twaddle, this comment is deceptive, short on fact, misleading and ultimately dangerous.  The conclusion is breathtaking in its fundamental ignorance - the long-term health implications of vaccination are well documented, clear and extraordinarily positive.  Effectiveness?  Did the Sun come up this morning?  Is the Earth Round?

      Government sites don't provide a disclaimer that they are pro vaccination, as that is obvious to anybody who reads them, or, indeed, to anybody with a live brain who has vaguely followed the public debate.  "AVN" is a deceptive and dishonest organisation who should be called to account.  Why won't it publish the disclaimer if it has nothing to hide?

    • Erik @ Sydney Erik @ Sydney Australia says:

      Great analysis of the article. Great comment, keep up the good work.

  2. about time about time Australia says:

    How they were granted charity status in the first place is beyond me!

  3. Tom Hennessy Tom Hennessy Canada says:

    "Experts are examining a pos­sible association between the controversial jab and Guillain-Barre Syndrome, according to a report from official watchdog the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)"

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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