“Dear Mayor and Councillors, Premier Bligh and Ministers,
I am writing with the utmost concern regarding the Council’s sponsorship/support of the Woodford Folk Festival. It is not the Festival, as such, which is of concern.
The organisers of the Festival have once again deemed it appropriate to host anti-vaccinationist Meryl Dorey, of the NSW-based Australian Vaccination Network (AVN).
Meryl Dorey and her AVN have been investigated by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission who have issued a Public Warning that the AVN “pose a risk to public health and safety”.
The Health Care Complaints Commission has investigated two complaints about the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), a non-profit organisation registered in New South Wales that provides information about vaccination. The complaints alleged that the AVN provides incorrect and misleading information about vaccination.
The Commission’s investigation of the complaints focussed on the material presented by the AVN on its website http://www.avn.org.au.
The Commission’s investigation established that the AVN website:
- provides information that is solely anti-vaccination
- contains information that is incorrect and misleading
- quotes selectively from research to suggest that vaccination may be dangerous.
On this basis, the Commission recommended to the AVN that it should include a statement in a prominent position on its website to the following effect:
- The AVN’s purpose is to provide information against vaccination, in order to balance what it believes is the substantial amount of pro-vaccination information available elsewhere.
- The information provided by the AVN should not be read as medical advice.
- The decision about whether or not to vaccinate should be made in consultation with a health care provider.
The Commission recognises that it is important for there to be debate on the issue of vaccination. However, the AVN provides information that is inaccurate and misleading.
The AVN’s failure to include a notice on its website of the nature recommended by the Commission may result in members of the public making improperly informed decisions about whether or not to vaccinate, and therefore poses a risk to public health and safety.
Mrs Dorey is due to give two seminars at the Festival. We can rest assured that the information provided by Dorey will be misleading, incorrect, and selectively cherry-picked to misinform the audience as to the true risks and benefits of not vaccinating. Dorey’s aim is simple: to dissuade members of the community from vaccinating their children.
We can also rest assured, given Dorey’s past successes at the Festival, that she will not be held to account for her misinformation, further misinforming the audience who may be mistaken in the belief that Dorey is an honest broker of vaccination information. She is not.
I raise this with Council, as the presence of such an individual would contradict Council’s stated policies on immunisation and child protection:
Council’s Immunisation Policy: excerpt.
“Whooping Cough is a potentially fatal illness that is in epidemic proportions in our region at the moment. Australian Government figures showed that in July last year, Queensland had 687 reported cases of whooping cough, the highest of all states in the country.
With the rate of Whooping Cough cases steadily rising throughout South East Queensland, especially in children under 6 months of age, it is essential to protect your child from this preventable disease.”
Sponsorship Of Council Events & Activities – Council as Sponsee –
“1. Policy Statement
Council will accept sponsorship of Council Events and Activities where such sponsorship will provide a benefit to the community.”
Council’s childcare centre policies, which would be made more difficult by the dissemination of misleading and incorrect information at Dorey’s Festival seminars:
Child health in Children’s Services.
“The council [has] a duty of care to protect the health of children when they access Council auspiced child care services. The objective of this Policy is to ensure that children have ongoing access to a healthy environment in order to facilitate optimum development.”
Child Protection and Wellbeing in Family Day Care.
Council will ensure that the rights and dignity of all children in Family Day Care are respected, actively working to protect them from abuse and neglect and fostering their holistic development as individuals through the adoption of the following principles, in accordance with State and Commonwealth legislative requirements:
1. A child has the right to be protected from harm.”
An interest has been established from various media sources into Dorey’s repeated appearances at the Festival. The organisers have been contacted previously regarding the danger to our children posed by anti-vaccinationists such as Dorey; however there has been a stubbornness and recalcitrance on the part of Festival organisers in their refusal to even respond to these concerns.
I am not interested in attacking the Festival, as it is an obvious source of good for the community, and the region’s economy. I am only interested in the health of children who may die, or suffer long-term, preventable sequelae, due to the misinformation provided by anti-vaccine zealots such as Meryl Dorey.
In the interests of public health, I hope these rising concerns will be addressed.
Here are the Council and State Government email addresses:
Moreton Bay Regional Council
Premier Anna Bligh
Health Minister Geoff Wilson