Dear Health Minister Skinner

PhD student Judy Wilyman wrote another letter. And, Dale dug a hole. Everybody’s kicked a goal.

To the NSW Minister for Health

Dear Health Minister Skinner,

Re: ‘Doctor’s unite to smash the anti-vaccine group’ Sunday Telegraph 22.7.12

I would like to bring to your attention the community concern over this article on vaccination.

The only “community concern” regarding holding the anti-vaccination organisation, the Australian Vaccination Network, to account comes from anti-vaccination advocates like Judy Wilyman, and her supervisor, the anti-vaccination misinformation enabler, Brian Martin.

The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) is a consumer lobby group that represents many professionals and parents who are requesting that the use of vaccines in Australia remains an individual’s choice – as it still is in the UK and many European countries.

The AVN would appear to be a consumer lobby group without a purpose. Immunisation is still an individual’s choice (unfortunately that “individual” is not the child of an anti-vaccination parent; an individual who could choose protection from vaccine preventable diseases like Measles). Individuals can still refuse immunisation, whether they are informed or not. They only need get a compliant medical professional to fill out their conscientious objection form, misleadingly stating that the individual understands the risks and benefits of refusing immunisation for their child.

This article incorrectly states that the AVN is putting out misleading information about vaccines ‘based on conspiracy theories’. This statement is untrue.

I wonder what sort of conspiracy theories might be attributed to the AVN?

The only lobby group discussing ‘conspiracy theories’ is the Skeptics Organisation. Pro-vaccine lobby groups such as the Skeptics, are using websites to attack individuals who present the science that questions the use of vaccines. Many organisations globally are now operating as ‘front’ organisations for corporations and are fighting environmental and public health regulations on behalf of these corporations (Michaels 2008).

Oh, there they are. I would say, “oh snap”; but it might be more accurate to exclaim “unfortunate footbullet!”

I would like to point out that the AMA is only one stakeholder in the vaccination issue and it does not represent all health professionals/consumers and perspectives on this issue.

I would prefer to point out that the AMA bases its policies on best-practice, evidence-based health care. The beliefs of those who pander to anti-vaccination conspiracy nonsense are really irrelevant when discussing evidence.

Dr. Brian Owler (AMA NSW president) is not correct when he says:

I think the name (of the AVN) is deceptive and misleading. People think they are getting information that is objective when it is against vaccination. It is very disingenuous“.

Yes, he is correct. The title of an anti-vaccination organisation should reflect its intent. “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia”.

It is not the role of the AVN to put out balanced health information.

I agree. The AVN has never done this, despite its claims to offer scientific, balanced information. This is why they are called an anti-vaccination organisation.

The public gets its health information from the government and should not need to get information elsewhere. However, if the government isn’t providing all the information on their website then the public needs to provide the missing science and ask why the government isn’t providing this science.

I’m not sure I’ve seen the government provide the type of information the AVN likes to provide.  The government does not: think vaccination equates to the “rape of a child…with full penetration”; compare researchers to “paedophiles”; sell books about the beauty of Measles; sell DVDs by the Church of Scientology and Black Salve spruikers; defend child killers; and on it goes…

The AVN represents one of many consumer groups in Australia presenting the science that is concerning them.

This is belief. This is not science. Do not confuse the two.

But the government is not investigating these concerns. Parents around Australia have requested that consumer organisations (government and non-government) investigate the science supporting the vaccination schedule but these organisations have actively operated against these requests.

The “concerns” have been investigated (just one example). That anti-vaccination liars do not like the results is of no concern to the rest of the community.

One example of this is the NSW HealthCare Complaints Committee (HCCC).

The HCCC acted on a complaint by the Skeptics subscriber Ken McLeod to charge the AVN with putting out misinformation even though the HCCC’s remit is to investigate consumer concerns on health issues.

The Health Care Complaints *Commission* investigated a complaint by Mr Ken McLeod. Read the Final Report here, and see what the HCCC found. Go on. It is awesome.

Consequently the charge was dropped after 2 years (and a court battle) but only after the media had smeared this organisation and misrepresented it to the public.

“Charge”? What charge? The HCCC investigated the AVN. Its findings show that the AVN provides misinformation which is selectively cherry picked, incorrect, misleading and wholly anti-vaccination in its intent. There was no misrepresentation. The findings were accurate and, more importantly, they were never overturned.

The Skeptics awarded Ken McLeod the ‘Skeptics Thornett Award” in 2010 for making the complaint to the HCCC and this included $1000 in prize money.

Yes. This is correct. Over 12 months after Mr McLeod submitted his complaint, he was awarded with a prize. The prize was from the Australian Skeptics. I’m sure there’s a conspiracy in there somewhere, right?

It is subscribers of the Skeptics organisation who are putting out misinformation on their websites and blogs and Dr. Owler’s comment applies more aptly to this organisation.

Not all sheep are white. Ms Wilyman won’t understand this one.

Please visit my website at for evidence of this misinformation and please email me with any requests for further evidence.

Consumers would like to be heard on the issue of ‘choice in the use of vaccines’ and they have a right to be fully informed.

Exactly! Consumers have a right to be fully informed!

I have placed on my website the information that shows that herd immunity did not control infectious diseases in the 20th century.

Sigh. Denialism is so 90s.

The community would like the government to provide evidence for the necessity to link $2,100 in welfare benefits to fully vaccinating a child with 12 vaccines and the requirement to get a doctor’s signature on objector’s forms to refuse this procedure. We would also like evidence of the necessity for health students in universities to update with 10 vaccines to work in clinical situations. Please provide this evidence so I can place it on my website for debate.

Because, immunisation works. Hospitals and other health environments have a duty of care to their patients, staff, and visitors. Allowing unimmunised workers to roam free in these settings would be detrimental to the people who they are trying to help get better, their friends, and their families.

Whilst the government is claiming ‘vaccination in Australia is not compulsory’ this is more in theory than in practice. The government has implemented policies that are pressuring individuals to use an increasing number of vaccines and people are fighting these policies in court. This is a medical procedure and pressuring healthy individuals to use vaccines is against the International Bill of Human Rights.

In practice, immunisation is not compulsory. Get away from the windmill, Judy.

I hope you will visit my website and ensure that consumers are allowed to participate in this debate with complete information supported by the evidence.

Kind Regards,

Judy Wilyman

PhD Candidate

Wollongong University

I believe that the University of Wollongong will again be advised that Ms Wilyman is sending out correspondence under the banner of the university. One day, I’m sure Ms Wilyman will recognise the folly of this practice.

Straight to the Minister’s poolroom.

About reasonable hank

I'm reasonable, mostly.
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