Griffith University Skeptics and Freethinkers

The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing revokes the anti-vaccination group AVN’s charitable status:

In Helping our community., Human Rights, Responses to the media, Science, Superheroes, TAM Australia on October 14, 2010 at 5:12 PM

Just hours ago the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) president Meryl Dorey issued a media release advising that the New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) are revoking the AVN’s charitable status as of Wednesday, October 20th 2010.

The media statement claims to reproduce the reasons listed by the OLGR, yet curiously the reproduction seen below does not seem complete,

(a) that any fundraising appeal conducted by the holder of the authority has not been conducted in good faith for charitable purposes
The Organisation has failed to publish a disclaimer on its website as
recommended by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC).
This has resulted in an unacceptable risk of potential donors to the
Organisation being misled when making a decision whether or not to
make a donation, which has led to appeals not being conducted in good
faith.

(c) that any fundraising appeal conducted by virtue of the authority has been improperly administered

The Organisation’s website is misleading in that it may lead people
making donations to believe that they are donating to a cause which
promotes vaccination whereas the Organisation adopts an anti-vaccination
position. When requested by the HCCC to publish a disclaimer on its website the Organisation failed to do so.

(f) in the public interest, the authority should be revoked.

The failure of the Organisation to comply with the HCCC recommendation resulted in the Commission publishing a Public Warning on 26 July 2010 advising that this failure “poses a risk to public health and safety”. In this circumstance it is in the public interest to not permit the Organisation to conduct fund raising appeals under the Act.

Unfortunately the full list of reasons (including those numbered b, d, and e) are not yet publicly available, but it’s not unreasonable to surmise they contain information the AVN have decided not to disclose for a reason.

It’s also not unreasonable to consider 2010 to be the most successful year for organised “skeptical activism” in history with overwhelmingly positive results.

The attention given to the AVN’s misleading, deceptive and dangerous claims and activities has been inspirational to say the least. Many the world over who share our concern for the dangers inherent in the dissemination of patently false pseudoscience, have new examples of skeptical activism at work, examples that show that there is always something we can do to help inform, educate and protect those most vulnerable, in addition to traditional skeptical activities.

Each and every one of you are heroes, candles in the dark.
From the extraordinarily brave and resilient parents of Pertussis victim Dana McCaffery, Ken McLeod and fellow Stop the AVN Group Members , Peter Bowditch, the Australian Skeptics Inc , Kylie Sturgess, Dr Rachael Dunlop, ABC journalist Steve Cannane, and here, Luke Weston and the Young Australian Skeptics, Sean the Blogonaut, Jason Brown, Mia Freedman, Dick Smith,the Skeptic Zone team, Dan Buzzard, and the many contributors and editors of the AVN Wikipedia entry.

The tremendous dangers that the misinformation and ignorance spouted by this group caused are incalculable, but without a doubt your individual and collective contributions will save lives.

Australia owes you a debt of gratitude for your hard work, persistant investigation, and determination to inform the public, media and regulatory bodies of what what the AVN is,does and stands for.

If there is anyone I have missed please do let me know and I will edit this page as soon as I’m made aware.

Jayson D Cooke

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