|Vaccine Safety Watchdog to |
Fight Government Censorship
12/07/2010 - For Immediate Release:
Consumer advocacy and vaccine safety watchdog group, the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), has announced that it will be investigating all options in order to respond to the outrageous attack on free speech inherent in the recent allegations made against it by a NSW state authority, the Healthcare Complaints Commission (HCCC). The HCCC, in a report just released, has deemed the AVN to be a 'healthcare provider' and, in this capacity, stated that it has published 'misleading and dangerous' information on the risks of vaccination.
Meryl Dorey, media spokesperson for the AVN, says that the organisation does not believe that it falls under the jurisdiction of the HCCC as they are neither healthcare providers nor health educators. According to Ms Dorey, "Vaccination is not compulsory in Australia, nor is it illegal to not vaccinate. In addition, prior to the HCCC's decision, it has not been illegal to publish information that questions a medical procedure."
The primary role of the HCCC is to investigate complaints of medical malpractice. This is the first time that the HCCC has investigated a consumer health watchdog group. According to Ms Dorey, "It is not surprising that a government commission has found us guilty of not saying what the government wants us to say. We wouldn't be doing our job properly if that were not the case. But," says Dorey "the threat to freedom of speech and the implications regarding loss of medical choice inherent in this decision make this an issue that cannot go unchallenged".
The report by the HCCC concludes a year-long probe into the activities of the AVN, instigated by complaints from members of a pro-vaccine, anti natural health group called Stop the AVN (SAVN). The initial complaint to the HCCC predominately argues that freedom of speech is not guaranteed under the Australian Constitution and asks that the AVN should be prohibited from publishing what it considers to be 'anti vaccine' information. It asks that the HCCC put forward a Prohibition Order to gag the AVN and Ms Dorey and to prohibit them from holding public seminars or making comments in the media. Numerous and continuing complaints and allegations made by SAVN members to the HCCC, most of them not made available to the AVN, have been lodged throughout the investigation.
"We have had a tumultuous year with our own and our family's personal details published on the internet. Our advertisers and professional members have been subject to severe and vicious harassment due to their support of the AVN. We have had wild accusations made against us stating that we believe in reptilian monsters. And there have been numerous death threats - the most recent of which was published on Twitter recently and retweeted many times stating that I should die in a fire." Ms Dorey concluded.
To have attacks from those who disagree with us is one thing - to have this attack at a government level is something which must be fought against. The HCCC's decision has taken them out of their normal role of protecting individuals who have been harmed by practitioners and into the realm of suppression, censorship and denial of natural justice, commonsense and fairness. It is time to take a stand on this issue and that is what the AVN will be doing.