Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network
| Needles are scary|
|Pricks against pricks|
“”[Vaccination] is immoral. [Vaccination] should be illegal. [Vaccination] is medical rape.
|—Meryl Dorey, thoughtfully pointing out how things that aren't rape are in fact rape.|
“”The worm has turned and the false balance is shifting. She is finally being treated in a manner which she deserves – relegated to the pages of natural health media and websites rife with conspiracy theories and quackery. But importantly, she is finally being held accountable for her nonsense, not just by skeptics but by the mainstream media and government departments too. And with opinions like "vaccination = rape", it’s about time.
|—Skeptic and blogger Rachael A. Dunlop BSc (Hons), PhD, in reply to the above|
The Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (AVN), these cranks also formerly known as the Australian Vaccination Network, is an anti-vaccine propaganda organisation based in Bangalow, New South Wales (NSW). It is the collective hellspawn of American expatriate Meryl Dorey (who has a dual citizenship in Australia and US), lobbying against compulsory vaccinations in Australia by denying any and all scientific evidence that vaccines save millions of lives by preventing childhood diseases.
The AVN doesn't just rage against real science, however - they also promote alternative medicine (such as chiropractic and homeopathy) as far-fetched strategies to haphazadly try to soothe the very medical complications that could instead easily have been prevented by vaccinations in the first place.
The AVN has become notorious in later years, not only for the outstanding dishonesty of Dorey, but also for its harassment of grieving families whose infant children have passed away from vaccine-preventable diseases. The AVN has also been caught sending death threats to people criticizing them. Perhaps most shocking of all is that 30% of AVN members are allegedly health professionals.
Trouble with the government
The Australian state of New South Wales' Office of Fair Trading has ordered Meryl Dorey to change the name of her organization because it is misleading and endangering people. She had two months to register a new name. The organization appealed to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal of New South Wales, but on November 25 2013 the order was confirmed. The Australian government on the 30th of April, 2014 released a public statement warning the Australian public that AVN's information on vaccines was either "incorrect", "inaccurately represented", or "taken out of context." The AVN's charity status was later revoked by the government who considered the whole "charity" as misinformation spreaders and fear-mongers; naturally the AVN complained that the professionals analyzing their site for misinformation were biased and thus unfair.
Despite the government stating that "We will continue to ensure that [the AVN] present themselves as an anti-vaccination advocacy [organization]", the Government's attempts to drag a straightfoward answer from the AVN, in regards to the question of what their actual goals and positions are, has failed. The anti-vaccine organization continues to claim on their website that "The AVN is NOT anti-vaccination, nor are we pro-vaccination. The Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (AVN) exists to further a pro-choice position with regard to vaccination and other health decisions."
We will continue to monitor the information that they put on their website. We will continue to ensure that they present themselves as an anti-vaccination advocacy. That's entirely up to them to do that. We want to make sure that they don't ever promote misleading information.
Our government is determined to protect our children from the devastating consequences of vaccine-preventable disease. While New South Wales has a very high rate of vaccination among children, we will continue to do all we can to protect those children who remain unvaccinated. Forget the scaremongering. There is nothing to fear from vaccination.
AVN being assholes
The AVN created a fake religion called the "Church of Conscious Living" that basically helps parents get their children a free vaccine exemption on religious grounds. The key word here being "help", in order to get a vaccine exemption for a child that definitely would benefit from vaccines, they would need to find a doctor unscrupulous or "respectful" enough to sign their vaccine objection form. They compared vaccination to rape in a Facebook post which the AVN quickly backtracked saying the AVN "does not own this page and have no power over what is put on it” and “We do not agree that rape and vaccination are the same and believe that this picture should be taken down as it is offensive to rape victims". They state that they want the right for them to refuse vaccinations however critics rebut that the child's right to protection against deadly diseases is more important than their uninformed science illiterate views.
Stop the AVN
Stop the AVN (SAVN) is a loose group of anti-AVN campaigners organised after controversy surrounding the death of a baby, Dana McCaffery, of the preventable illness whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis).
Although their intents are good, some of them throw inappropriate and digusting verbal abuse against AVN such as "You love dead children" and "Those dead babies don't unload themselves" to members of the AVN.
The Real Australian Sceptics
In May of 2012 the AVN launched a blog called The Real Australian Sceptics, a blatant attempt both to capitalise on the reputation of their opponents, the actual Australian Skeptics, while simultaneously calling that group pseudoskeptics. This, naturally enough, provoked complaints.
The site "stopped functioning on Sunday, January 24, 2016" and still currently is expired. As of 2018 the domain is now for sale for the much too high price of two grand.
- Dana McCaffery's website
- Stop the AVN
- Jo Alabaster
- The actual Australian Skeptics
- Thirteen years of RatbagsDotCom V AVN
- Minister orders anti-vaccination group to change its name
- AVN anti-vaccine screed
- Alternative medicine links from AVN
- Anti-vaccine group accused of harassing parents ABC News
- Pretending to be something you’re not, Peter Bowditch.
- Pseudoskepticism from Australian vaccine denialists