Warning about the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc. (‘AVN’), formerly known as Australian Vaccination Network Inc.

30 Apr 2014

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission has completed an investigation into the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc. (‘AVN’), formerly known as Australian Vaccination Network Inc and under section 94A(1) of the Health Care Complaints Act has decided to make the following public statement and warning. The Commission investigated whether information published and disseminated by AVN may be misleading or inaccurate.

AVN was established in 1994 in New South Wales by a group of people concerned about the lack of scientifically-based information cautioning against vaccination. AVN states on its website that the government and the medical community, in general, “exaggerate the safety and benefit profiles of vaccinations whilst downplaying their risks.” AVN states it was formed with the purpose of:

  • providing medically-referenced information on vaccine safety and effectiveness
  • lobbying to ensure that vaccinations are never made compulsory for Australian children
  • supporting those who have chosen not to vaccinate or to vaccinate selectively.

AVN disseminates information to the public via a variety of mediums. These include its website, www.avn.org.au, the magazine entitled ‘Living Wisdom’ (which ceased publication in January 2013), its Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube. Meryl Dorey, the former President, has also held a number of radio interviews.

The Commission investigation focussed on information provided on AVN’s website and some information disseminated on AVN’s Facebook page.

Public warning
The Commission has established that AVN does not provide reliable information in relation to certain vaccines and vaccination more generally. The Commission considers that AVN’s dissemination of misleading, misrepresented and incorrect information about vaccination engenders fear and alarm and is likely to detrimentally affect the clinical management or care of its readers.

Given the issues identified with the information disseminated by AVN, the Commission urges general caution is exercised when using AVN’s website or Facebook page to research vaccination and to consult other reliable sources, including speaking to a medical practitioner, to make an informed decision.

The Commission has recommended that AVN amend its published information with regard to the above issues and the Commission will monitor the implementation of these recommendations.

Further information

Read the full public warning.
If you have any questions, please contact the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 9219 7444 or send an email to media@hccc.nsw.gov.au.

The information in this media release is correct at the time of publication. Orders may change; for example, conditions may no longer apply. For current information, please contact the Commission