On the day that the Lancet effectively scratched the now infamous Wakefield et al paper of 1998, from it’s records, the AVN also had a bombshell to drop.

In a e-newsletter sent to subscribers, Meryl Dorey president of the AVN announced:

AVN to close it’s doors at the end of the month

The contents explained that after 17 years, Dorey was;

“…in the next 3-4 weeks…tendering my resignation as President of this great organisation and moving on to the next stage of my own personal development as mother, wife, activist and researcher.”

Which seems pretty clear cut, until further in the email she wrote:

“Without a large injection of capital behind me, I simply cannot continue.”

She used the word injection! Ms Dorey you do amuse! (sorry, couldn’t let that one go…)

She explained that closure at the end of the month could be avoided, but only if:

“..a benefactor or series of benefactors come forward to establish a fund that would guarantee the AVN’s existence for at least the next 2-3 years.”

This is not the first time Dorey has asked for money from her members – a few months ago she was asking people to put aside a percentage of their government paid family allowance to donate to the AVN. Then several days ago she asked for “$100 from each and every member” (AVN Message #42021).

But this comes as no surprise to us, we know she has been in financial difficulty of late. According to documents obtained by a colleague via the the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) (this information is publicly available if a business is registered as a charity), the AVN lost AUD58,000 in the period January through December 2008.

The day following this email, Ms Dorey sent another email clarifying that the AVN would only close if she did not receive the required funds and she was sorry if she had worried her followers.

closing down

This clarification became somewhat clouded today however, when she sent another e-newsletter with the masthead exclaiming Living Wisdom/ AVN Closing down sale! (AVN message #42055).

So is she or isn’t she?

Until yesterday I had been wondering why she had not pleaded to the big guns for help, the likes of Generation Rescue and Age of Autism. That was until today when a blog appeared on the Age of Autism website, wherein between asking for an “injection of funds” again (*chortle*). She says the following about the “anti-choice movement”:

“I have had death threats from those who are too cowardly to confront me on the facts of my argument*.

I have had complaints filed against me… I have been called the Baby Killer of Bangalow…and told that I am personally responsible for the current record-high level of whooping cough despite the fact that our vaccination level is currently also at a record high.”

Personally I’m not surprised Ms Dorey wants out, and I suspect it is not solely to do with money. It has not been a good year for the AVN.

There are currently two complaints filed against her with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), accusing her of spreading false information about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. We expect the findings to be handed down in the next few weeks. There are also two with the OLGR, the charity watchdog, one alleging she operated without a charity license for 2 years, whilst still collecting donations.

She has also received considerable mainstream criticism for her campaign of scaremongering and misinformation regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Despite the General Medical Council finding Wakefield “callous”, “unethical” and “dishonest”, a complete retraction of the Wakefield et al paper on February 2nd, and a large body of scientific evidence discrediting his work, the anti-vaxers appear to have not changed their stance that vaccines contain toxic levels of elemental mercury, vaccines cause autism, shaken baby syndrome, SIDS and brain damage.


In August 2009, Dorey and the AVN were the target of a national newspaper advertising campaign, financed by entrepreneur Dick Smith warning parents of Australia not to listen to the false claims of the AVN. In publicity surrounding the publication, Smith criticised the organisation for portraying a public face of “pro-choice” when privately being unequivocally anti-vaccination. In a statement Smith said; “They should put on every bit of their material that they are anti-vaccination in great big words”.

Dorey has been heavily criticised for her misuse of scientific evidence, in particular her habit of “cherry picking” data to suit her agenda whilst publicly insisting she only cites peer reviewed studies from medical journals.

Dorey also outed herself as an “HIV denier” meaning she does not believe that HIV is the cause of AIDS. HIV deniers are a dangerous group of individuals, whose influence on South African President, Thabo Mbeki historically contributed to the unnecessary deaths of over 300,000 Africans as a result of delayed roll-out of anti-retroviral drugs.

Dorey also appeared to subscribe to conspiracy theories despite telling her email group;

“We are already seen as rapid idiotic fringe dwellers by so many in the mainstream, it does our argument no good at all to bring in conspiracy theories which though we may prescribe to them are unprovable”.

Yet, she later published a link to a conspiracy blog describing H1N1 (swine flu) as being manufactured by a group of drug cartels for the express purpose of extinguishing a large percentage of the world via compulsory vaccination, aerosol exposure via chem-trails and the implantation of mind control chips. The original story was attributed to (but not credited by Dorey) the world famous conspiracy theorist David Icke. You can see more here.

To top it off, the AVN was awarded the 2009 Australian Skeptics Bent Spoon awarded annually for the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle and chosen from a list of public nominations.

Not to mention she has taken a battering in the press for spreading false statistics and scaremongering, and been forced to change seminar venues when organisers discovered the true nature of her ‘information’.

I think this might be the beginning of the end for the embattled AVN. And I for one won’t miss ’em. At all.

We await to hear the next installment, otherwise mark down February 28th as a victory for science and reason in this country.


*she does not supply evidence for this claim

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  • Chris

    Obamosawin may have training in tradional native peoples historical medicines, no one should take his ideas on science and real medicine seriously. I found a report written by him (there is a reason he has not been published in peer reviewed journals for over thirty years). I noticed that the National Aboriginal Health Organization is not really part of Health Canada, but does get support from Health Canada. From http://www.naho.ca/english/about.php

    NAHO receives core funding from Health Canada to undertake knowledge-based activities, including education, research and knowledge dissemination. Health Canada exerts no influence over the content of NAHO materials nor are NAHO materials attributable, in whole or in part, to Health Canada. No corporate body or commercial entity has any influence over the contents of NAHO publications.

    So I found a more recent paper by Raymond Obomsawin, Phd (not a medical doctor) here:
    Where he expounds on the glory of Royal Rife and his microscope.

    However, Rife’s invention with its 14 separate
    crystal quartz lenses and prisms, was able to bend and to polarize light in such a way that a specimen could be illuminated by extremely narrow portions of the spectra, and even by a single light frequency.

    The guy is a loon.
    Kindly stick to real medical researchers and PubMed for real information on vaccines.

  • Chris

    But he can mung the statistics by surrounding them with nonsensical comparisons. The most blatant is comparing to Scarlet Fever, which is a bacterial infection for which there is no vaccine, but which responds well to antibiotics.

    There seem to be lies by omission, though I do not have the time nor inclination to load that large file and go into it bit by bit. Mostly what I see is that if some vaccines are not very effective (which is true for the tuberculous vaccine, which was not used in the USA), that all vaccines are useless. Except data actually show that herd immunity is important.

    I found a mention of the guy here:

    I did a search on him in PubMed and found exactly one paper:
    Can Nurse. 1978 Oct;74(9):7.
    A statement on Indian health.
    Obomsawin R.

    Unfortunately, that is all. I would say since his last journal paper was over thirty years ago, that he has not been actually been active in real research for a long time.

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  • scep dick

    Arent the facts he presents graphically just that – facts. He cant make up those figures and Im assuming we can all go do the same and plot them out?

  • @scepdick, this guy is an antivaxer. Not a reputable source.

    From here. Raymond Obomsawin was born in the United States on August 16, 1950 and holds dual US and Canadian citizenship. He married Marie-Louise in August of 1976, and they have three, vibrant children: Sunrise, Sunbeam and Sundown. These children–two are still in their teens, and one is twenty-one–have never received the prescribed regimen of childhood vaccines, and due to a healthful lifestyle have exhibited total immunity to the diseases that are common to the childhood years. (Time and again they’ve been physically exposed to those ill from some of these very diseases.)

  • scep dick


    I have just seen these charts put together. To me this seems like hard evidence from reputable sources that vaccinations dont work. Whats the explanation?

  • scep dick

    I still cant say that Ive seen anything that’s been overly convincing.

  • @scepdick

    I was simply referring to the crusading that the skeptics do – seems almost religious sometimes.

    Well when you start framing the debate with religious language like crusading its no wonder you interpret it that way :). In Australia the only two events that have received a good level of skeptical activism are the exposing of the AVN and more recently the 1023 campaign. The level of these campaigns are commensurate with the level of danger posed by their targets. I don’t think it helps you to put this in the framework of religious language, not if you want to evaluate it objectively. No offense taken 🙂


  • @scep dick, I found another document, detailing notifications of pertussis for January 1 to March 31, 2009. It says;

    Between 1 January and 31 March 2009, 8,058 cases of pertussis were reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS). Cases were reported in all states and territories with the majority reported in NSW and QLD. The highest number of notifications was observed in the 0–4 year age group (n=1,786; 22%), followed by the 5–9 year age group (n=1,213; n=15%).

    See the pdf for more details.

  • scep dick

    I was simply referring to the crusading that the skeptics do – seems almost religious sometimes. As I said, dont take it personally. I find this site the most refreshing and at least willing to discuss and help me find some answers. Sometimes I wonder how much of the material from ‘the other side’ pro-vaxxers have really truly read though.

    I have finally been able to download that document. My computer was only allowing me to download part of it for some reason but it’s all resolved now. Thanks for your patience.

    It doesnt really give a clear indication of the notification rates in the areas listed on the first table of vaccination rates. Its definately not as clear anyway.

    It does say “the number of hospitalisations exceeds the number of notifications by 32 per cent”. Does this mean that people go straight to the hospital rather than their Dr or that the Drs are not reporting or picking up on cases?

    Its also interesting to note that they recognise that pertussis have a cycle of around 5 years.

  • Joanne Benhamu

    True Skeptic: Who is this Joanna Banhamu you speak of? Sounds like she is profiting off my shill fund. I demand compensation.

  • Well it is an interesting quote to be sure – if only because it lacks context or meaning. Personally I thought we followed the Crusades.

  • @scep dick,

    Are you saying that generally skeptics focus on the Medicine versus alt-medicine debate too much?

    There are two very active campaigns against homeopathy and the AVN underway. Perhaps this is foremost in your mind.

    I’d argue that its not instant dismissal for anything classed as alternative. When skeptics have investigated a topic to death do we really need to go over everything in detail again. I am thinking of the dowsing tests that actually formed a catalyst for the formation of the Aus Skeptics. Do we really need then to anything more than a cursory examination of the bomb detectors in Iraq to confirm that yes they are sexed up dowsing rods that they and those that hock them can be readily dismissed(in terms of their credibility not the actual harm caused).

    I just saw this interesting quote “Skeptics appear to have simply taken over where the Spanish Inquisition left off.”

    Are you baiting with this? What is interesting about this? Where is the similarity bewteen the Spanish Inquistion and the Skeptics?

  • scep dick

    @true skeptic
    Yes, sometimes I’d have to agree that skeptics (in general not specifically here) seem to ignore anything thats not big pharma. Its instant dismissal for anything classed as ‘alternative’. I just saw this interesting quote “Skeptics appear to have simply taken over where the Spanish Inquisition left off.”

  • Paul

    “I have had death threats from those who are too cowardly to confront me on the facts of my argument”.

    1.) Her “argument” has been demolished a gazillion times in open and honest attempts at discourse. Deleting refutations to her “facts” is her response, such that misleading impressions persist. I’d suggest the ‘coward’ re facts is Meryl.

    2.) Meryl Dorey to my knowledge never mentioned any threats until legalities commenced. She claimed then she had to hire security to protect her family. Those motivated to dispute non evidence based claims do so from a position of credibility. Many rely on the same credibility for their personal career path, public face and more.

    If MD wished to gain support, then pursuing these “threats” would do so, and also undermine her opponents. She has not because she cannot.

    I doubt this is any different to her many modes of distorting reality. What do we take from that: ‘Threats’, ‘Cowards’ or ‘Facts’? Answer? None.

    Of course, there’s no evidence at all to sustain this claim – a cut down version of earlier claims, which backfired. ‘True skeptic’ has a most unusual idea of evidence, and a bit to learn as to epidemiological trends, given the above statement about H1N1.

    “Skepticism” is not rank contrariness to the Status Quo, as seen in Conspiracy Theory such as 9/11 claims.

  • Thanks for your comment, @ true skeptic, I have nothing personally against Ms Dorey. It’s her distribution of misinformation and half truths that I object to.


  • If it downloaded as a file with “.part” on the end, try deleting that extension so it ends with “.pdf”

  • True skeptic

    Considering how much you personally dislike her Dr. Rachie I wouldn’t dismiss someone sending her some nasty emails containing death threats (whether these would be backed up or not is another story).

    I switched off listening from your opinionated segments after you adopted a point-and-laugh approach to Jane Burgermeister’s (I believe that’s the name) worldview without actually doing any research to confirm its validity.

    The skeptic’s movement is joke when it comes to anything larger than individual charlatans or or outdated beliefs like homeopathy, acupuncture, astrology etc. I don’t know any sketpics besides myself who even looked at 9/11 truth material like Blueprint for truth or Zero and let the chips fall where they may. A real skeptic familiarises themselves with both sides of an argument.


    The H1N1 scaremongering from last year and attempted mass rollout of vaccines (I downloaded the insert and they contained Thiomersal, “harmless” according to Joanna Banhamu) shows that the skeptics movement is not skeptical enough and are unwitting shills for companies looking to profiteer from potentially vaccinating the entire western world (was there a H1N1 epidemic? Was vaccinating against it really necessary? I can understand for Polio or Smallpox but the Flu?).

    I probably shouldn’t comment because I know nothing about this Meryl Dorey or the AVN but I felt like venting on a related issue. Unfortunately skeptics are not immune to accepting and repeating misinformation due to widespread unquestioning trust of corporate-owned media and the government (they would never manipulate the public would they?), I guess if I knew more about the AVN I could attempt to dissect this particular article for accuracy.

  • @scep dick, trying copying this address into your browser


    It should take you straight to the pdf

  • scep dick

    I cant open this file for some reason. Ive tried looking on the CSIRO file but cant find.

    If you could take into consideration the idea that people might not report the actual cases in that particular region that there might be cases of whooping cough that dont get tested and reported by Doctors? My good friend’s nephew got whooping cough (completed whole schedule) and when he went to his GP the GP refused to test him because he’d been vaccinated. The Mum then took him somewhere else and demanded he was tested. Turns out he had it. Im sure this happens more often than you would like to think. Its also apparently expensive to have the test done?

    Anyway, if you could please help me with those stats for whooping cough contraction areas I would really appreciate it. Thanks.

  • Try again… HERE

  • @scep dick
    Try <a href="http://www.publish.csiro.au/?act=view_file&file_id=NB03025.pdf"this (pdf)
    If I read it right, the Northern Rivers region shows the highest rate of pertussis notifications and hospitalisations in NSW, inversely proportional to its rate of immunisation.
    I wonder how many cases in this region go un-notified due to the residents’ general distrust of mainstream medicine?

  • The impending demise of AVN is very good news indeed.

  • scep dick


    I still havent been able to find the stats on the actual contraction rates as per each area….
    I dont think a newletter just stating “Unsurprisingly, these are the areas with more outbreaks of diseases like measles and pertussis” is really evidence and Id like to have the actual recorded cases. That seems like a fair way to deduce that if it is in fact the highest cases of whooping cough its cause is their low immunisation rates???

  • And Dorey didn’t even get a look at the finish line in the Shorty Awards. Did she even get a look at the start line – or did her fans not bother? But then, what chance did she stand against The Amazing Dr Rachie anyway?
    To be fair, she didn’t credit David Icke but she actually linked to the article as allegedly written by Farooq Hussain in the Pakistan Daily. At the time I searched for some key phrases to see what other coverage it had received and that’s when I discovered it had been copied from Icke’s site. That’s probably more research than the AVN bothered to do on the article.
    I had only watched Pen & Teller’s David Icke segment a week or so beforehand so the name rung loud bells.

  • Maryn

    She’s pleading her case on the Age of Autism website.

  • LOL. “close it’s doors”.

  • @scep dick, no problems about the questions! Please, ask away. I’m glad you are getting something from the blog.

  • @jason, you are right, you can get the Maternity Immunisation Allowance if you identify as a conscientious objector. More info here.

  • scep dick

    So did I miss the link for the contraction statistics for each area?

    Cheers and sorry bout the questions…

  • Hi @scep dick,

    You are keeping me busy tonight!


    First up, I assume (but I would need to confirm this) that they get the percentages from the census. So, they know how many kids live in the Northern Rivers region versus the reporting of vaccination by the GPs, and from this they calculate compliance versus non-compliance.


    There were three deaths last year


    I don’t have the stats for how many babies die versus how many contract it, but I can tell you this:

    Severe complications which occur almost exclusively in unvaccinated people include seizures and pneumonia. In babies under 6 months of age the symptoms can be severe or life threatening and include;

    • Haemorrhage (bleeding)
    • Apnoea (stopping breathing for long periods of time)
    • Pneumonia
    • Inflammation of the brain
    • Convulsions and coma
    • Permanent brain damage
    • Death.

    I also suggest you take a look at Chris’ comment on another post, where he/she calculates the probabilities, but I think you may have seen this before.

    You can find more info here


    As for reputable place to get statistics, Medicare Australia have these as does the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (where the newsletter came from), although unfortunately the latter’s website tends to be out of date.

  • “Can I ask how they calculate this percentage if the people who don’t vaccinate don’t come in to Drs to not get vaccinated?”


    Looks to me like it comes from the incentive program whereby parents can receive a bonus for vaccinating. (There is a loophole in this publicised by the AVN that allows non-vaccinators to still receive the bonus. Which is, well… mad).

    If the kids are known to medicare, which they kinda have to be, their vaccination status can be tracked – even if they never front up at a real doctor. The figures are pretty good within relatively tight error bars.

  • scep dick

    Thats a really great link, thanks. Can I ask how they calculate this percentage if the people who dont vaccinate dont come in to Drs to not get vaccinated?

    Where the newletter says “Unsurprisingly, these are the areas with more outbreaks of diseases like measles and pertussis” where do these stats come from? Is there a place to see this information (see Im starting to question!:-) ).

    Know I know its not a nice subject but what percentage of children GET whooping cough? I’ve got some stats of the reported cases which I think can from the Communicable Diseases Surveillance report which I think are classed as ‘reputable’. And what percentage of children who get whooping cough die. I understand there was three deaths last year?


  • All good points @reasonablehank, I needed you when I was writing this post today!

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  • @scep dick,

    Australia wide, we currently have the highest rate of whooping cough vaccination, but in the Northern Rivers area the levels are well below that required to sustain herd immunity. This is just another example of Ms Dorey cherry picking information to suit her cause.

    The most recent report I can find is from November 2009 which ranks Divisions of General Practice in descending order based on immunisation coverage rates calculated from the General Practice Immunisation Incentives scheme for the November 2009 quarter.
    The NORTHERN RIVERS GENERAL PRACTICE NETWORK comes second last for immunisation rates overall with 79.8% coverage compared to 92.8% for the highest coverage in Australia.

    Further, a newsletter issued by the National Centre for Immunisation and Research Surveillance states that:
    “Regardless, our biggest problems with non-vaccination exist in areas such as the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and the Northern Rivers of NSW where there is a concentration of alternative lifestyle communities. Here can be found towns with up to 35% of children recorded as having no vaccines. Unsurprisingly, these are the areas with more outbreaks of diseases like measles and pertussis.”

    So you see, even though other parts of Australia have good coverage for pertussis vaccines, the Northern rivers have one of the lowest levels in the country.

  • scep dick

    So what is the response to the claim that we have the highest whooping cough vaccination rate at right now but still are having whooping cough outbreaks?

  • reasonablehank

    Maggie. Don’t forget she cited whale.to yesterday (we have the screenshots). It’s not the first time, but we have pics!

    Also some advertisers pulled out from advertising in her magazine once they found out how disgusting were the views of the editor. None of the duped were made aware of the link between the AVN and the magazine at the time of payment; but, once they found out it didn’t take long for them to cancel, and to scream across the rooftops why they cancelled.

    As you mentioned above, I am waiting with bated breath to see the police report incident number for her death threats. I am thinking that she has as much evidence for this threat as she has for the ‘threats’ she deceitfully accuses Ken McLeod of making. But that’s another story of trails of subterfuge winding their way to another courthouse, for another day…

  • How did they lose 58,000?

  • Ilijas

    I’ve got the champers ready!


    plus, they didn’t post a message that I’d put on Dorey’s page criticising her for asking for money. In the best possible taste, of course. 😉