The Uniting Church in the City has withdrawn access to their venue for a scheduled AVN seminar, due to be held in Perth tomorrow night.

According to the Church there were concerns raised by a number of people, including prominent church members who are experts in the field of ethics and public health, that the message promoted by the Australian Vaccination Network is not in line with the ethos and values of the Uniting Church in Australia.

No Uniting Church in the City venue is being made available to the AVN for tomorrow night’s meeting (update AEST 20:42, please see below; it has been cancelled with plans to reschedule in the next four weeks).

The AVN organised the seminar following the recent spate of adverse reactions to the seasonal flu vaccine in children under five years of age.

Australia wide, over 400 reactions have been reported, in five states, the majority of which occurred in Western Australia. Authorities are still investigating the cause of high fevers and febrile convulsions. Most children recovered, but one child in Queensland died 12 hrs after receiving the vaccine. The coroner found no evidence to implicate the vaccine.

The AVN seminar, “Flu Vaccines and Informed Choice” was described in an e-newsletter;

“This talk examines the risk of flu to children, the effectiveness of the vaccine and the additional risks to children’s health of adding another vaccine to the childhood schedule.”

Both media spokesperson and immediate past-president, Meryl Dorey and Murdoch University PhD candidate Judy Wilyman were scheduled to talk.

“To date, more than 300 serious reactions to the current seasonal flu shot have been reported in children under the age of 5 with one child known to have died within hours of being vaccinated. All the indications are that this figure grossly underestimates the actual number of reactions. In her talk, Meryl Dorey will discuss how vaccines are intended to work and why it is that they often don’t. She will talk about the known side effects of childhood and adult shots and reveal that according to the Australian government, as few as 1% of vaccine reactions ever get reported, leading to a belief that they are perfectly safe.”


This is not the first time the AVN has been refused access to a venue after having organised, booked and advertised a seminar. In 2009, they were forced to find another venue at short notice after a school in Mt Barker, South Australia declined their appearance, following notification of the nature of their material.

In a blog post entitled “AVN Under attack” Meryl Dorey described how those opposed to her ideas “…have tried to get venues where I am scheduled to present vaccination seminars to cancel and have harassed those who sponsor such events.”

Whilst publicly claiming to be the “pro-choice”, the AVN preaches a clear anti-vaccination message, designed to scare parents into shunning vaccinations for their children.

They were also recently refused paid advertising in The Child Group magazines, distributed free Australia wide and targeted specifically to parents, for similar reasons.

In South Australia, the AVN was able to secure a new venue at the last minute.

A recent tweet from the AVN (@nocompulsoryvac) published at 12:31 AEST, May 13th said; “Flying out to Perth, WA for our seminar tomorrow nite on flu vax. If you haven’t booked yet, extra chairs have been put in-call 1800 007 468 about 5 hours ago via HootSuite”.

At the time of writing, it is not known if Mrs Dorey is aware of the venue cancellation.


Meryl has just sent an e-newsletter about this. The text is reproduced below. Please write to the Uniting Church to thank them for taking a responsible stance here. Or call them on (08) 9321 9711.



At about 12:45 this afternoon, I was standing on line, waiting to board a plane that would take me to Perth. I had packed, arranged rides for my children, caught up on my office work for the next few days and was ready to just sit back, relax and enjoy the flight (while going over my powerpoint slides for the 20th time!)

As I was waiting my turn to give my ticket to the hostess, my mobile phone rang. I almost didn’t answer but seeing that it was a Western Australian number, I thought I’d better.

Little did I know…

On the other end of the phone was a Mr Andy Corkill who is the Mission Development Officer for the Uniting Church of Perth.

He was calling to inform me that the Church Council had received calls from the WA Dept of Health and from some of their own congregants including a senior academic from a university in Perth. All these people were urging the church to cancel our seminar which was taking place on Friday night.

Mr Corkill informed me that the Council had met the night before and decided that they would cancel the event and that there was really nothing he could do to change this because it was a decision made by the Council – not by him.

When I told him that we had over 100 people booked in to attend and that I was about to board a flight from QLD to Perth specifically for this event, he suggested that we find another venue. He was quite helpful and said they would be happy to post a sign at the Uniting Church to let people know the location of the new venue – hah!

I asked him where he thought I would be able to find a venue for over 100 people in just over 24 hours and he replied that he couldn’t help with that but I couldn’t have any Uniting Church venues.

So – off to the counter I go and ask them to pull my bags off the plane – down the $750 we paid to the Church for the venue and the almost $700 for the plane fares.

Don’t be downhearted!
A person could really be forgiven for feeling more than a little bit downhearted by these events. After all, there are children all across Australia who have died or been seriously injured by the flu vaccine in recent weeks. There is a little girl in PMH right now who was in a coma for some time and now faces a difficult and uncertain future because of this shot. And yet, the Department of Health and certain academics have decided that Australian parents need to be treated like mushrooms and kept away from any information that might call into doubt the safety of shots.

Unfortunately for them however, this action is going to backfire and backfire badly. This backlash is already starting!

The media in WA is now asking the following questions:

1- Who at the department of health chose to put pressure on the Church to force them to cancel our seminar? Why would a small event, attended by only 100 people, be of concern to the government?
2- Who was the senior academic who used his status as a member of the Uniting Church congregation and a supposed expert on this issue to state that the AVN should not be allowed to speak at a Church venue?
3- By trying to suppress this information, is the government trying to pretend that these reactions never took place? Are they stepping on our right to freedom of communication – a right that has been upheld by the High Court of Australia?

In the meantime, we contacted everyone who was booked into the seminar tomorrow to let them know it’s been cancelled. Several of these people have excellent contacts with larger and better venues in Perth and we are hoping to reschedule this talk for sometime within the next 4 weeks.

Of course, we will let you know as soon as we have rescheduled.

UPDATE#2 16/05/10

The Church has now issued a press release stating their reasons for cancelling the AVN seminar. To read the pdf, click on the hyperlink “Cancellation of Australian Vaccination Network Event” on this page.

To read some of the emails apparently sent to the Church from AVN supporters, go here.

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