With kind permission I reprint the findings of ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs into the recent appearance by Meryl Dorey on ABC 612 Radio Brisbane. It is obvious that Dorey has worn out her welcome and again abused the trust of ABC Radio producers, hosts, and listeners.
Thank you for your email of November 28 concerning the interview of Meryl Dorey conducted by Terri Begley
As your correspondence raised concerns of misleading and inaccurate content, your email was referred to Audience and Consumer Affairs for consideration and response. The unit is separate and independent from ABC program areas and is responsible for investigating complaints alleging a broadcast or publication was in contravention of the ABC’s editorial standards. In light of your concerns, we have reviewed the broadcast and assessed it against the ABC’s editorial requirements for accuracy, as outlined in section 2 of the ABC’s Editorial Policies: http://www.abc.net.au/corp/pubs/edpols.htm. In the interests of procedural fairness, we have also sought and considered material from ABC radio.
612 ABC Mornings interviewed Meryl Dorey of the AVN on Friday 25th November following the federal government’s announcement regarding changing the current maternity immunisation allowance to a family tax benefit. The intention was never to discuss the pros and cons of vaccination, and Ms Dorey was not invited on as an expert on vaccinations, but rather as somebody who heads up an organisation of people who don’t vaccinate their children and therefore will not be receiving these new payments. She was introduced by presenter Terri Begley as, “Meryl Dorey is the president of the Australian Vaccination Network, a group opposed to vaccinations.”
Ms Dorey somewhat disingenuously objected to the introduction, saying the AVN “don’t oppose vaccinations per se but [are] opposed to compulsory vaccinations or penalties for those who choose not to vaccinate”.
The program team believed that Ms Dorey would have something to add to the discussion and Terri Begley’s questions centred on the move to tie family payments to vaccination, whether that could be fairly described as a “bribe to vaccinate“. Unfortunately, Ms Dorey added little and took the opportunity to promote a case against the use of the pertussis vaccine based on distorted and selectively presented information. As this was not anticipated, the presenter was not in a position to effectively challenge Ms Dorey’s assertions.
Notwithstanding that the interview had been preceded by an interview with a representative of the AMA who made a compelling case for vaccination based on both medical evidence and personal experience, the effect was to potentially mislead listeners about the effectiveness of the pertussis vaccine. This was exacerbated by the fact that the introduction to Ms Dorey did not adequately contextualise Ms Dorey’s comments by informing listeners that she is a campaigner against vaccination who has no medical qualifications and her organisation has been the subject of a warning by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission for providing misleading information to the public.
It is our view that Ms Dorey wasn’t introduced with sufficient context to ensure listeners were not misled by her unsubstantiated claims.
Radio management apologises for this lapse.
As you are aware, this is not the first incident of this nature concerning Ms Dorey and radio management advises that it will again communicate to radio staff the importance of providing listeners with all relevant context and information when presenting controversial and potentially dangerous viewpoints – particularly if they propose to interview Ms Dorey.
Accordingly, Audience and Consumer Affairs conclude the broadcast was not in keeping with the ABC’s editorial standards for accuracy as outlined in section 2.1 of the ABC’s Editorial Polices. Please be assured that your comments and this decision have been conveyed to ABC Radio management and the producers of the program.
Thank you for taking the time to write; your feedback is appreciated.
For your reference, the ABC Editorial Policies are available online at http://www.abc.net.au/corp/pubs/documents/codeofpractice2011.pdf
Should you be dissatisfied with this response to your complaint, you may be able to pursue your complaint with the Australian Communications and Media Authority, http://www.acma.gov.au .
Audience & Consumer Affairs
Well done ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs.
I feel for the producers of the program, and the host. They gave Dorey a chance to add to the discussion and she blew them off by abusing their trust whilst opportunistically inserting the Pertussis lie.