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It's Just As Bad "Down Under," As It Is All Over the World PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   
richard-saunders-2
Richard Saunders

While I’ve always felt that Australians tend to be somewhat more sensible and pragmatic about silly notions that so easily capture attention in other parts of the world, a matter that our friend Richard Saunders just called to my attention has brought all that to a screeching halt…

There exists a group calling itself the “Australian Vaccination Network” [AVN]. It’s headed by Meryl Dorey, a mother who has withheld immunization from her own children despite the threat to their health. As Aussie Dick Smith has said, wisely:

I think they're choosing not to vaccinate because they don't understand risk management. They are told that there is a risk with vaccination. Now, everything in life has a risk. There's a minute risk but it's been proved all over the world that the advantages far outweigh the risk.

Mrs. Dorey also publishes a website and newsletter that campaigns against mass public immunization programs, claims that vaccines cause autism, brain damage and cancer, and that one's health can be maintained without the use of pharmaceutical drugs, though no sensible observer of the situation would claim that such drugs should be used unless clearly called for. To further put Dorey and her “network” firmly in the woo-woo category, they also promote the use of homeopathy and chiropractic, both proven examples of popular quackery.

In July of 2010, the Australian Health Care Complaints Commission [HCCC] issued a public warning saying simply that the AVN poses a risk to public health and safety, and that their failure to include a disclaimer in a prominent position on its website that it provides information that is solely anti-vaccination, could result in "members of the public making improperly informed decisions about whether or not to vaccinate." That seems, to me, a moderate, quite correct observation. However, just yesterday the AVN won its case against the healthcare watchdog, with the court finding that the HCCC did not have the jurisdiction to issue a public warning about what they saw as a decided danger to the Australian public.

In effect, as Australian Ken McLeod said in 2009, the organization was in breach of the Health Care Complaints Act because it made "unsubstantiated health claims based on 'conspiracy theories,' pseudo-scientific evidence and debunked research." Yes, thoroughly and repeatedly debunked, folks.

Aussies were rightly shocked recently when four-week old little Dana McCaffery died of whooping cough, an easily preventable disease via inoculation – because her parents were misinformed about the procedure. This one death is evidence enough, in my opinion, to have Meryl Dorey and her woo-woos put out of business. It remains to be seen whether her own children will survive their mother’s unwise attitude…

Mr. McLeod said the decision exposed a gaping hole in public health legislation. He said:

However, the court did not find that Australia's leading anti-vaccination group was innocent of misleading or dangerous conduct as the commission had found… Instead, the court has found that the HCCC did not have jurisdiction. This means that the AVN is accountable for their deceptive conduct to no one. Any crank and charlatan has been given a green light to spread their misinformation, and public health will suffer as a result… Clearly there is gap in the legislation that every parliamentarian has a moral responsibility to fix.

I cannot improve upon that statement…

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Good on ya!
written by SheldonHelms, February 24, 2012
I've always been shocked by how many of my fellow Americans suffer under the delusion that these things only happen in the U.S. (It's odd that Americans are so quick to jump on anything anti-American.) Saunders and Karen Stollznow have shown time and again that, although their country is less religious, a good deal of "woo" also exists in Australia. Simon Singh regularly reports about the lunacy in the U.K. healthcare system (e.g., homeopathic "medicine" being paid for with tax dollars). And reports on the Skeptics Guide to the Universe often include strange medical, psychological, and paranormal topics from countries all over the world. It's not only unfair to cast Americans as the only victims of such nonsense, it's also unfair to people in other countries to ignore their plight. As they say down under, "Good on ya, Saunders."
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Pragmatic Approach
written by Thunderhead19, February 24, 2012
Maybe the best way to take care of this foolishness is to bring back Polio. Maybe watching children live out their lives in an "iron lung" will be more persuasive than any vocal arguement on behalf of vaccination.
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written by MadScientist, February 24, 2012
In the nation's capital parents are being advised to get their whooping cough boosters because the number of reported cases is rising rapidly. This report is a bit old, but have a look at 2007 vs. 2008 (and it's getting worse):

http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/0/E4277318BCD03B96CA25773700169C89?opendocument
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The Size Of the Market
written by Ricsuth, February 24, 2012
Woo is everywhere proportionate to market size/quality of education equation. We sometimes arrogantly think that we are ahead of the game in the UK but then we have ADE651 and GT200, but...

It is like a virus that mutates and needs constant vigilance!!!
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@Thunderhead
written by lytrigian, February 24, 2012
The way things are going, polio may well be back whether we "bring it back" or not.
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written by xxi_centuryboy, February 25, 2012
Beam me up Scotty, there's no intelligent life on this planet.
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written by Lt Rabbit, February 25, 2012
unfortunatly SheldomHelms we are religious, psychic loving, conspiracy eating tree hugging idiots. e.g i live in the "City of churches" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelaide the name isnt a lie either. ouside of the suburbs there is almost a church for every 2 blocks and in rural areas one church, one pub (bar) 0 to n houses.
my neighbours on 3 sides believe in god (one attends a nice song, dance, speaking in tounges church) and to top it off a month ago my mother asked me to prove how the moon can exist..its embarassing but thankfully we arnt all like that... oh and almost every day i call a chemtrailer an idiot on facebook, if i avoided these people i would have no friends.
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its not all bad down here
written by Azlan, February 25, 2012
I'm an Aussie so after reading this i did a little research to scope out the anti vaccination movement in Aus and came across a new law that is getting introduced to encourage people to vaccinate buy withholding $2100 from parents who choose not to vaccinate, finally the government gets it write
here's the article i read about it http://scepticsbook.com/2011/1...-benefits/
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