Chiropractor Simon Floreani issued an official wrist-slap for anti-vaccinationism

Eighteen months ago the Chiropractic Board of Australia, reacting to a string of examples of chronic anti-vaccinationism from its members, issued a press release stating that it was finally taking a stand. On August 8 2013 the CBA stated this:

The Chiropractic Board of Australia is cracking down on chiropractors who step outside their primary role as healthcare practitioners and provide treatment that puts the public at risk.

To protect public safety, the Board has:

  • ordered practitioners to remove all anti-vaccination material from their websites and clinics
  • removed several courses from the list of approved CPD programs, and
  • introduced random audits of practitioner compliance with the Board’s registration standards.

Three months later, after it became quite obvious that many chiropractors weren’t taking the strong advice of the CBA, the President of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia, Laurie Tassell, opened up on the recalcitrants in his presidential address, posted in the November 2013 issue of The Australian Chiropractor. Enough was enough. This was really starting to look…well…even worse than before:

Tassell CAA TACThere is one line in there which always gives me cause to stroke my chin. You see, one chiropractor, Tim Shakespeare, has already been booted from the CAA NSW board (yes, he was a board member), for “posting photos with well known speakers openly critical of vaccination”. Complaints were lodged and “disciplinary action” was taken by the CAA NSW. Shakespeare and the business for whom he manipulates were also forced, by the NSW HCCC and the NSW Chiropractic Council, to remove an entire mural containing false claims of the effectiveness of chiropractic and its effect on immunity. There is, however, always a cloak of secrecy surrounding what actions are taken against whom and for what. This brings me to Simon Floreani.

Simon Floreani is the husband of the uber-star of Australian chiropractic, Jennifer Barham-Floreani. Floreani is also the immediate past-president of the CAA National, finishing up his role in 2011 (Laurie Tassel took over in 2012). Here are the Floreanis in 2014 posing with what the CAA president would term a “well known speaker openly critical of vaccination”, Andrew Wakefield:

JBF 12 WakefieldSeriously, you don’t get much higher in the academy of anti-vaccination than the summit of Mount Wakefield. Does it make it worse that the above event was CalJam, run by the delusional Billy DeMoss, a man who claims the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre of innocent children was a “hoax”? Yes. Yes it does.

And here are the Floreanis flicking the bird to the CAA and the CBA, duck-facing with Billy DeMoss on September 20 2014, at Chirofest, in Seattle:

JBF 26 Chirofest photos with Simon Floreani and DeMoss

As a reminder of the esteem with which Floreani is still held, in 2013 he won an award for outstanding service, presented by the CAA Victoria:

Floreani 4 oustanding service award CAA VICSo this guy is still at the top of the chiropractic game. He is receiving awards from the professional association of Victoria, and he is the immediate past-president of the National professional association.

Indeed, so untouchable was President Floreani and his CAA at that stage that Floreani – the professional member, with his wife, of the anti-vaccine fundamentalist group, the Australian Vaccination Network – thought it appropriate to present a video with discredited anti-vaccine homeopath, Isaac Golden, detailing how homeopathic immunisation is “safer” and just as “effective” as immunisation. I kid you not. Paul Gallagher’s post here is mandatory reading for this example in the recent history of the CAA’s anti-vaccinationism. Floreani and Golden kick in at about 3:00 in this video, also created by Paul:

So, what has brought us to Floreani, again? Well, for the sake of brevity – and in the public interest and in the interests of public health and safety – Floreani’s business, called Vitality, in Melbourne, was visited by someone who went for a genuine chiropractic visit. The person noticed several examples of anti-vaccine literature, including AVN paraphernalia, laying around intended for clients, and was rightly concerned enough to lodge a complaint with AHPRA, who investigates on behalf of the CBA. What makes it even worse is that it seems to have been the same anti-vaccination paraphernalia which was seen in July 2013’s ABC Catalyst investigation; an investigation which prodded the CBA into making its August 2013 vaccine/evidence declaration. How we come full circle:

Floreani 16 Catalyst AVN pamphlet on Hep B in waiting room

Also seen on Catalyst, in the Floreani business, was Jennifer Barham-Floreani’s book Well Adjusted Babies, which contains a 40-page anti-vaccine chapter so rife with misinformation it would almost make Meryl Dorey blush (almost). Notable citations in the chapter are ex-Dr Rebecca Carley, Not-a-doctor Viera Scheibner, the NVIC, Jim Carrey, “British vaccine expert Andrew Wakefield” (I’m serious), and homeopath Isaac Golden. Golden is cited, of course, as an authority on the effectiveness of homeoprophylaxis. We now know Golden’s reputation was officially trashed in the recent Federal Court case in which the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission succeeded against Homeopathy Plus!, the court finding that Homeopathy Plus! “engaged in misleading conduct and made false or misleading representations regarding the effectiveness of the whooping cough vaccine and homeopathic remedies as an alternative”. I would argue strongly that Barham-Floreani is doing precisely the same thing.

To quote the Barham-Floreani gibberish which no longer even borders on reckless endangerment; it is a stark example of it, fit for inclusion in any dictionary :

Homeopathic vaccinations are an effective and safe alternative to conventional innoculations and warrant your investigation. [p380]

Floreani 15 Well Adjusted Babies in Catalyst as antivax example

One can only hope the Chiropractic Board of Australia has read the Barham-Floreani chapter on immunisation. I’ll even send them a copy. I am imagining they will need it.

Anyway, after an investigation, findings were laid down by the CBA against all four chiropractors at the Vitality business, and all four chiropractors were issued with a formal caution, in private. The other chiropractors named and cautioned by the CBA were Ian Northeast, Mark Stafford, and Michelle Ronan. Most notably, Michelle Ronan has recently gained a spot on the board of the CAA Victoria.

It would be more appropriate that someone with as much form as Floreani should have such findings attached to his name publicly, and permanently, so as to “protect public safety”, as the CBA claims. A private caution – such as this is – is just not enough. It’s not enough, given his history of recalcitrant anti-vaccinationism practised at the peak of the profession. I mean, compare the slap on the wrist given – in private – to Floreani with the chest-thumping pronouncements of the CBA just over one year ago. One would think at least an undertaking should have been accepted by the board. At least that would have shown up on Floreani’s AHPRA registration page, so as to, as the CBA claims, “protect public safety”. The provision of anti-vaccination misinformation should even warrant that conditions be placed on a practitioner so as to, as the AHPRA glossary states, “protect the public”. All that aside, it appears that the CBA does indeed have an avenue to make a caution public. It would be nice if they would investigate it:

a National Board can require a caution to be recorded on the register of practitioners.

I am always left with a hollow feeling when I reminisce the warnings of President Tassell. What disciplinary action is being taken against chiropractors who hob-knob with the likes of Wakefield and DeMoss? It’s not just the Floreanis. There are also lesser lights like Laurence Tham and Tim Shakespeare – Shakespeare is appearing at CalJam again, soon, along with a cavalcade of anti-vaccinationists like DeMoss, Wakefield, Jeanne Ohm and, this is not a joke, Alex Jones of Prison Planet – and, as already noted above, recently Australian Spinal Research Foundation President Martin Harvey and Jennifer Barham-Floreani also shared the bill with Wakefield at Chirofest, in Seattle:

JBF 19 chirofest Harvey Wakefield

Why is it left to members of the public to do anything about these outliers to reason and evidence? We’ll certainly know what internal action is being taken when it is consistently made available for the public, to whom the CBA owes the greatest duty of  that aforementioned safety.

In general, if the public doesn’t know which chiropractors are practising non-evidence based malarkey and worse, such as anti-vaccinationism, then, how can the public make an informed decision about their choice of chiropractor?

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23 Responses to Chiropractor Simon Floreani issued an official wrist-slap for anti-vaccinationism

  1. Sue says:

    The recent findings against Homeopath SHeffield and her business Homeopathy Plus, in relation to false claims about immunisation, are relevant here. Golden’s “evidence” was also soundly dismissed by the Federal Court.

    If a non-registered provider is to be formally financially sanctioned for these action, shouldn’t an even greater penalty apply to registered health care providers who promote the same misinformation?

    • wzrd1 says:

      It appears that self-policing is ineffective. Perhaps it is time for the government to provide proper oversight, lest the next epidemic in Australia become a major killer of children in ways not witnessed since early in the past century.

  2. lazygun01 says:

    It irritates me beyond measure that they are allowed to describe themselves as “Doctors”. At least, I assume all the “Drs” in the above picture are Doctors of Chiropractic ( except for Wakefield, obviously, who was a medical doctor and is now thankfully struck off). I do think that the general public have a completely different impression of what a “Dr” means – For the overwhelming majority, it means a medical doctor – and it seems to me these guys are effectively trading on that public misapprehension when they style themselves “Doctor”. That really should be a protected title, reserved for medical doctors only IMO.

    • I agree entirely. “Doctor” should be a protected title. This is what happens when the CAA, at the time when Floreani was president, has too much bargaining power at the time when the government was attempting to get chiros under AHPRA regulation.

      • @advodiaboli says:

        Yes it says a lot in that subjective manipulation of public perception was – and still is – far more important than provision of evidenced based care.

        Nonetheless with Alex Jones in the mix the Right To Bear The Stick That Goes Click will surely be safe.

      • psychtld says:

        Well, it kinda IS a protected title: you cann’t call yourself ‘Doctor’ unless your degree is doctoral. Well – MB ChB or equivalent can get one the honorific version as a medical practitioner; but the problem isn’t to do with the title ‘Doctor’ – it’s a problem with regulation of educational institutions and the rights to award degrees called ‘Doctor of … (whatever)’.

        In the UK, when chiropractic was first being taught, the pathway was BSc (Hons) in chiropractic and that was followed by a postgraduate qualification: the Diploma in Chiropractic (D. C.). The doctoral route to professional training and status seems to be a uniquely American idea, where professions seem to be basically graduate-entry only.

    • skepticalj says:

      anyone can call themselves Doctor. If we all did it, maybe the public would start asking “doctor of what”?
      Isn’t it funny that ‘Chiropractor’ is a protected term as is

      “Chinese medicine practitioner, Chinese herbal dispenser, Chinese herbal medicine practitioner, Oriental medicine practitioner, acupuncturist ”

      So is ‘Nurse’ – I think nurses should be called Doctor. They have more training, respect, experience and science than any Chrio, Acupuncturist or Herbal dipshit.

      • Colleen Taylor says:


      • psychtld says:

        “anyone can call themselves Doctor.”

        Er… no, they cannot. My highest degree is that of Master. I cannot call myself ‘Doctor’ anything.

        As I’ve said elsewhere – the problem is not with the title ‘Doctor’: it is to do with who can award doctoral degrees (particularly without having any substantial research component to the degree’s coursework).

        • Martin says:

          Actually you can call yourself doctor. It is not a protected title.

          You can’t pass yourself off as a medical professional without a relevant degree, but there is no law saying you can’t put doctor in front of your name.

  3. Thinking_Chiro says:

    In reply to lazygun01:
    I am in total agreement with you in regards to the misude of the title Dr. When there was state boards, NSW was the most active and used to visit practices for unannounced audits resulting in fines and chiro’s being put on probation.Then AHPRA came along and gave the title. I actively campaigned against it at the time, to no avail.
    The Floreini’s and Co have been officially warned and the process involves three strikes. Has she removed the antivaccination chapter from her book? Strike two! Has she been diciplined for appearing with Wakefield at Chirofest? Strike three! (This appearance was after the official warning to the profession). AHPRA needs to publicly follow up on their initial warning to the antivaccination fringe. There should be zero tolerance on such an important public health issue. Just look at the Disneyland outbreak in DeMosses back yard!

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