Diluted Thinking

in Australian healthcare

AVSN: Fairdinkum Radio interview Meryl Dorey


The Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network is the subject of a current health warning issued by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. The warning, in part, states:

"The Commission considers that AVN's dissemination of misleading, misrepresented and incorrect information about vaccination engenders fear and alarm and is likely to detrimentally affect the clinical management or care of its readers."

"Given the issues identified with the information disseminated by AVN, the Commission urges general caution is exercised when using AVN's website or Facebook page to research vaccination and to consult other reliable sources, including speaking to a medical practitioner, to make an informed decision."

For accurate information about vaccination, please visit the Immunise Australia Program website and I highly recommend reading Immunisation Myths and Realities: responding to arguments against immunisation.

Interview transcript.

Host: Leon Pittard, Fairdinkum Radio
Guest: Meryl Dorey, Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network
Date: 23 March 2012

Leon: Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for joining me today on fairdinkumradio.com. My name is Leon Pittard, I am your host, and I am joined today by Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network. And our discussion today is regarding legislation in Australia regarding vaccinations. Good morning Meryl, welcome to Fair Dinkum Radio.

Meryl: Good morning, Leon, thank you.

Leon: Meryl, we're going to talk a little bit today about the current legislation as it stands in Australia. Many parents are concerned about what the situation is with their children. So let's start with the children and what the situation is with their school attendance.

Meryl: Yes. Now there's actually an awful lot of people in the community who are being misinformed about this issue. So many people. Everytime I give a talk I ask how many people here think vaccination is compulsory in Australia for school children, and a good percentage of the audience will generally raise their hands. And I think it's quite intentional that the medical community and the government, in fact, the education department, are trying to convince parents that they have to vaccinate their children in order for them to go school. But that's not the case. Education is compulsory in Australia; vaccination is not. So, in every state or territory an unvaccinated child is not allowed to be discriminated against simply because they're not vaccinated. That said, there are two diseases, measles and whooping cough, where if your child is not vaccinated they can be excluded during an outbreak of these diseases in the class. So, let's say your child is unvaccinated is in a class of 30 and one of the children is diagnosed with measles. It's not up to the school to do this. The doctor is required by law to report that case of measles or whooping cough to the government. The government then contacts the school or pre-school or childcare centre and asks for the list of children in the class and who's vaccinated and who's not. And then at that point the health department or the public health unit will contact the parents of the unvaccinated child to say that there's been a case reported in the class and they have to keep their child home for two weeks. And that is two weeks from the last case that's reported. So if one case is reported this week, and then next week another case is reported, and the next week another case is reported, you have to keep your child home for that entire time until fourteen days after the last case. And if that's pre-school or childcare you still have to continue paying your fees during that time. You, as a parent, have the right to say "ok, you're telling me there's a case of measles or whooping cough, I would like laboratory proof to say that it is measles or whooping cough." Because, in general, the vast majority of the time when doctors will report a case of these two diseases, they'll be wrong. It's only when they actually have the laboratory proof that you can be assured that it is measles or whooping cough. There was a study done in the UK that said 97.5% - so almost a 100% - of measles cases that were diagnosed by doctors, turned out on blood tests to be something else. So, if you are contacted by the school and are told you have to keep your child at home, you are certainly within your rights to say "thanks very much, can I please see laboratory proof". So, no school, no pre-school, no childcare centre, can discriminate against a child because they're unvaccinated.

And another issue that a lot of parents are concerned about is whether or not they will lose any of their financial entitlements if they choose not to vaccinate. And the short answer is they will not. The government has just introduced a new piece of legislation that started last July. There's a $726- a year payment for a child who turns 12 months, 2 years and then just before school called the Family Tax Benefit Supplement Part A. And all the newspapers reporting that if you don't vaccinate your child, you won't get this payment. And this is why you really can't trust what you read in the media because all you need to do is register as a conscientious objector and you will get all of your government entitlements, including this payment, and including the childcare benefit which is the other payment that's linked to vaccination compliance. So, you need to either vaccinate fully or register as a conscientious or medical exemptor, and you will be able to get these payments. So you can't lose out on any of these payments even if you choose not to vaccinate.

Leon: How do people register as a conscientious objector?

Meryl: Good question. The forms are required by law to be held in every Medicare office, Centrelink office and GPs office. But unfortunately what we're finding is that the majority of these places act like they've never heard of these forms. We have a link to them on our website or someone can just do a search on Google for conscientious objector forms and you'll find it and you can print it out. Now you need to go to an immunisation provider, and that's either a GP or a council clinic sister who's been authorised to give vaccines. The law says that the doctor or the clinic sister is required to counsel you on the benefits and risks of vaccination as they see it, and then to sign the form to say that they've counselled you. What's been happening a lot is that a lot of doctors are refusing to sign the form because they say they don't agree with the parents' decision. Now it's not their place to agree or disagree; they're required by law to sign the form after they've counselled you. So if a doctor refuses to sign the form you are within your rights to file a complaint against that doctor, and the complaint will be upheld. If you don't feel like a confrontation - and let's face it, who does - the Australian Vaccination Network has started a buddy system where we have people, a lot of them are older people who have gone through this with their own children, who are willing to go to the doctor with you, with information, so that when you go and say I'd like to get my conscientious objector form signed, if the doctor jacks up and says, "no way, I'm not going to do it", this person can then step in and say, "I'm sorry, are you aware that you're required by law to do it. Here's some information you might like to have; maybe we can sit down and talk about it". So, it takes the onus off of you to be fully informed about this. I mean, most parents should be fully informed anyway, but when you're in a situation where you're under stress and doctors can be intimidating, it's good to have that backup, it's good to have the support. So if anyone is having a problem getting the form signed, or they don't even want to face this issue without some help, all they need to do is contact our office and we have people all over the country who are very happy to go along with you and support you to get your form signed. And once the form is signed we urge you, very strongly, to take a copy of it and send off the original. The original goes to the Health Insurance Commission in Tasmania and they constantly, constantly lose these forms and you have to go through the whole process over again. It doesn't seem like it's an accident because it happens so often. So, if you keep a copy of the form and they tell you they've lost it, make a copy and send off the copy. But always keep a copy of that form. And the form, the conscientious objector is only necessary for those two government payments, the Family Tax Benefit Part A Supplement and the Childcare Benefit. You don't need it for school, you don't need it for any other reason. You just need it for those two payments.

Leon: So, therefore, as you've stated, the conscientious objector form is really just so that you can still access those benefits. And the doctor actually signing it is really just an indication that he has informed you of the risks and the supposed benefits of the vaccination.

Meryl: Exactly. That's the only reason they sign the form. They're not saying they agree with you, or disagree with you, or do anything else, it's just saying that they've done their job to counsel you.

Leon: Now the other area that I'm interested in, which is probably the most delicate issue, is people who work in the healthcare system like nurses or hospital staff or just people connected with the hospital in some way. What is the situation with healthcare workers within the department of health?

Meryl: This is a difficult one. There has been no legislation passed on this issue at all, but every state has certain policies. New South Wales is the most draconian. So if you're in New South Wales it's very difficult. If you are a current hospital employee, we're being told that you will not lose your job even if you choose not to vaccinate. And doctors, sorry not nurses and other hospital staff, are being told they have to take up to ten vaccines in order to keep their jobs. So if you don't vaccinate you're being told that you will not lose your job but you will be moved to an area where you're not in contact with patients. But we have heard of people who have lost their jobs, and it's illegal. There has been no legislation passed in New South Wales; this is simply a New South Wales health policy which is being used as if it were legislation. There have been at least two legal cases taken on this. Both of them were won by the nurse involved, but yet the policy is still being used as if it was law and it's not. And every state has the same sort of health policy for students. It's not necessarily for people working in the system, but for students. If you are a student in an allied health profession, like a nurse or occupational therapist, something like that, you have to at one point do practical work which means working in the hospital for a couple of weeks. And the hospitals will not allow you to go in there unless you've been vaccinated. Some private hospitals are allowing people to do their practical work but the public hospitals are not allowing it. So there are so many nursing students and other health professionals who are leaving school because of this. And it seems like they are trying to weed out anyone who can think for themselves. If you are willing to say yes to everything that they ask of you, then you can have a job. But if you want to think for yourself and not necessarily agree with everything that public health does, then out you go. So, it's quite frustrating. We spent an entire year working on this issue and unfortunately didn't get a whole lot of help from within the nursing community. And the nurses union actually was involved in drafting this policy and therefore they're not supporting any of the employees who are members of the union who don't want to be vaccinated. It's quite a shocking situation and there is at least one nurse that I know in our area who died after her vaccine. A young woman, 25-26 years old, she became very, very ill after the vaccination, was sick for almost 9 months and then passed away. And we know of many other nurses who are now on disability because they took vaccines that they were told they had to have for their jobs and ended up being permanently injured as a result. So it's just not children and babies who can have these sorts of problems; it can happen to anyone.

Leon: The reason I asked this question is I have someone close to me who was looking at applying for a job in a local hospital as a receptionist and it stated that mandatory vaccines were essential.

Meryl: Well, you're in Queensland, is that right?

Leon: New South Wales

Meryl: New South Wales, that's right. Every other state you can get around it, but in NSW you can't, unless you take them to court. And if you take them to court you'll probably win, but it will be a win just for you. There've been two cases that were won in court and it doesn't seem to have affected the policy. It's pretty extraordinary, actually.

Leon: And the thing is, when you're applying for a job too, you're not really in a position to say, "well look, I'm applying for this job but if I don't get it I'm going to take you to court". I mean, already it puts you on the outer, doesn't it.

Meryl: That's right. And we have a shortage of nurses and hospital staff in Australia and this is not doing anything to help it. I know of one hospital, I think it was Mona Vale in Sydney, where 3 out of the, I think, 5 midwives who worked there actually were on desk duty because they wouldn't take the vaccines. And there are probably many other hospitals where this is happening. So, we have a bit of a crisis on our hands with not enough hospital staff and the government is actually making the situation much worse. And they're saying that this policy is not for the protection of the nursing staff, this is for the protection of the patients. And you got to wonder, if the patients want to be protected from infectious diseases, they can be vaccinated. And if they believe that the vaccines are going to protect them, they can take them. Why do nurses have to be vaccinated in order to protect patients who have the ability to protect themselves?

Leon: Now Meryl, is there any other workplace area that you know of where there is a push for vaccinations, as in mandatory?

Meryl: Yes, in the military. People are being told in the military. Now again, this is illegal. There is nothing in legislation that allows this to happen and, in fact, there's a section of the Australian Constitution that contravenes this. And if somebody wanted to take a case to the High Court of Australia would be wonderful. But if you're in the military and you want to be deployed overseas, you have to be vaccinated. And the people in the military are getting many more vaccines than just about anyone else. And a lot of experimental vaccines, as well. They're getting anthrax vaccines, they're getting so many shots that many of them... these are big, strong, healthy people in general, are becoming quite ill afterwards. And there is no option to say no; you have to do it if you're in the military and you want to be deployed overseas. And I believe even if you're in Australia, unless you want to work behind a desk, you have to take certain vaccines. So it's a lot of control without very much thought, because there are no exemptions available. The policy in NSW if you have a serious reaction you have to still keep getting vaccinated if you're a nurse. There is no exemption available. And the same for the military.

Leon: So for parents with young children, who are going to school, vaccination is not mandatory. There is an option to be a conscientious objector in order to continue to secure any government payments that you might be getting. Now, moving to an article which is dated today, Meryl, on the ABC 1233 Newcastle, a spike in whooping cough cases may have been caused by a new strain of bacteria that is resistant to existing vaccine. Last year, the number of diagnosed whooping cough cases in Australia rose to 38000, the highest record since 91, the article says. And then it goes on to say that we suspect, although it's circumstantial evidence at this stage, one of the reasons that there has been a significant increase in Australia and many other countries in the last few years, is that this strain is not affected as much by the vaccine as the older strains were. So according to this article, the whooping cough sickness is not responding to the vaccines that they have been giving their people.

Meryl: Well, it's worse than that, Leon, because it's not a matter that it's not responding to the vaccine, but the vaccine itself may be the reason that the whooping cough bacteria has mutated. We may have touched on this in one of our earlier talks but it's like we have antibiotic resistance because we have overused antibiotics, so the bacteria that cause certain diseases mutate, or the ones that are actually affected by the antibiotic die out, and other ones come to the fore. Well this is exactly what seems to be happening with the whooping cough vaccine. And it's been going on for over 25 years. I have articles going back to the early 1990's from the Netherlands where they talk about this. And this was with the old vaccine, the whole cell vaccine, which we're told is so much more effective than the one that we're using now. And if you look at the articles back then you're finding exactly the same information. We're having outbreaks, they're happening in the vaccinated, and it's because the bacteria that's causing the disease is not actually the same as the bacteria that's in the vaccine. There are two main strains of whooping cough, a bacteria that can cause the diseases that would be considered whooping cough. One of them is called Bordetella pertussis, which is the bacteria that's in the current vaccine. And the other one is called Bordetalla parapertussis. And the diseases clinically are identical. Parapertussis tends to be a little bit milder but it can be quite serious as well. So parapertussis has never been in the vaccine and much of what we call whooping cough has most likely been caused by this Bordetalla parapertussis. But the bacteria that we have in the vaccine no longer matches what is circulating in the community. And this is one of the reasons why we're seeing so many children and adults getting whooping cough, even though they've been fully vaccinated. And unfortunately this newer strain of the bacteria seems to be far more virulent or dangerous than the older strain, which is why we're seeing children dying for the first time. Well, I think the child that died a couple of years ago in NSW was the first death from whooping cough in over a decade in Australia. And you're right, we have more cases then we've ever had. In fact, we have more cases per capita, so if you figure out the population rate of Australia before the vaccine was introduced to the schedule in 1953 and the per capita rate today, our rate today is higher than it was before we had the vaccination. And yet, if you read the article, it says that the doctors are still saying everyone needs to get vaccinated because it's the best thing, it's the only way to prevent whooping cough. Well, it's not preventing whooping cough, and it may even be making us more vulnerable to whooping cough, which is why we're seeing so many more cases. And this year looks to break last year's record. So it's not stopping. I was interviewed on AM for this morning's program about this issue as well, and what the government has been sort of hiding this information. One of our members spent 12 months trying to get it from the Department of Health and they finally gave him the data but they restricted how he could use it. But in Australia, with our huge rate of whooping cough, 75% of the cases in children, so people who'd been recently vaccinated, 75% of cases in children younger than 4 years of age are fully vaccinated against whooping cough. Another 14% are partially vaccinated. And only 11% are unvaccinated.

Leon: It's incredible. It's like you said, if you just look at the figures, the whooping cough vaccine has not prevented whooping cough. And as you've stated it's obvious it's mutated because the whooping cough vaccine is not working.

Meryl: That's right.

Leon: The thing is that, it seems like the people that have the statistics, don't want the common man to have those statistics, which leads me into my next thought is an article by Mia Freedman in The Telegraph on Sunday. And the article, incredible it is, the headline is "Vaccination can't protect babies against stupidity". Now I note that the headline is obviously the angle of the story, the stupidity angle. And that's of course up there in big print to make it look as though anyone that would think different, or question vaccination, is obviously stupid. The article goes on to say that everyone's an expert today because everyone feels like they need to do their research on different things. And it goes on to talk about a person that, a friend of this researcher, and this friend did some research on vaccination and decided that he did not want to vaccinate his child. He goes on to say, "while I accept that my former co-worker was a thoughtful person who meant well, I'm floored by the extraordinary assumption that he knew better than every scientist in the world. Not to mention Bill and Melinda Gates who are spending hundreds of millions of their own dollars funding vaccination programs in third world countries to eradicate killer diseases such as malaria". Now, what I find interesting about this article, Meryl, is that he goes on to say what on earth could make a civilian believe that his google research is superior to decades of science.

Meryl: And to use that word 'civilian' several times in the article, and I thought she really means layperson, but the use of the word civilian, was that intentional or was that an accident. Are we just little soldiers for our government or what is the story. It was an interesting word.

Leon: Meryl, obviously this is the theme of my work, studying these social changes and social engineering that happens to populations largely, mostly through the media and through corporate interests behind the media. You're right in pointing out, what on earth could make a civilian, a common person, a layperson, believe that his google research is superior to decades of science. And it goes on to say, and it's a very good example, just ask any GP who has to contend with self-diagnosing patients determined they can identify their prognosis and treatment. Now I had the actual experience of this, where I was misdiagnosed by a doctor, and I did my research and I believed that his opinion was wrong. When I went to another doctor I got a completely different diagnosis and the diagnosis was according to the research that I had. So, the information in this article is almost like you should not question your GP.

Meryl: Exactly. I actually wrote a blog about this article because it was so incredible to me. Mia Freedman says towards the end of the article, "I'm not suggesting that we become a flock of sheep or suspend critical thought" and then she says in the next sentence, "but I don't need to do my research before I vaccinate". Well, the history of medicine is such a long and squalid history of errors and a million people dying in the United States every year from medical error. Over 19,000 in Australia dying from the same reason. You know, you have to earn that respect. Doctors are not infallible, medicine is not infallible, and it's our body, our child's body, and we need to take responsibility for it. So, I titled my blog "Celebrating ignorance - Mia Freedman says embrace your inner moron". Because that's exactly what I felt like she was saying, she was saying we're all too stupid, just let your doctor tell you what to do.

Leon: Yes, and the thing is that as I've discussed quite often on my program, is that we are moving into this environment of a technocracy, where we are being told that we must accept the decision of the experts above us. And science is always brought up as though it is immutable. Now 40 years ago doctors were advertising Camel cigarettes on television. Right? So what I'm saying is that 40 years ago nicotine was being propagated as something that was good for you by doctors that were sponsored by the tobacco companies. So here we are now, 40 years later, and we're saying we can see that in human history the so-called scientists are often wrong. And so, we as individuals, when it comes to affecting my life, we need to take some personal responsibility about the decisions we make for myself and for my children. But what really gets to me about this article, Meryl, especially towards the end where it said "I'm baffled by this growing sense that everyone has the right, indeed the obligation, to challenge the facts". It's just incredible, isn't it.

Meryl: It's frightening that to think that an intelligent woman - and I think that she is an intelligent woman - could basically throw her hands up in the air and say I am not going to take responsibility for my life and I don't understand why any of you want to do that, want to take responsbility, why you want to make informed decisions. I mean, informed choice is celebrated by the government, it's celebrated by the medical community, but when we try and actually exercise our right to informed choice we're being told that we shouldn't be doing that. And as I said, you know, you don't even have to go back 40 years, look at Avandia that was just withdrawn for diabetes because it was causing so many deaths. Look at Vioxx and, you know, Merck the company that made Vioxx actually put together a hit-list of doctors who were opposed to it and said they wanted to get them where they lived. I mean, this is the sort of thing the drug companies are covering up the information on the dangers of their products, doctors are only learning about the products from the drug companies. In general it seems that doctors, unless they do their own research, can be quite ignorant of both the effectiveness and safety of drugs and vaccines. And yet we're supposed to go to them and say 'you are God and therefore please tell me what I need to do'. And I'm saying, the AVN is saying, and thousands of doctors around the world are saying, that we need to take responsibility. Mia Freedman said that on the one hand we have science and on the other hand there is no other hand. That's not true because the fact is that there are paediatricians, immunologists, specialists, GP's all over the world who say that mass vaccination is not necessarily a good thing and that we need to be looking at each individual before we vaccinate them and finding out whether or not they are going to be the ones who are going to be reacting and whether or not they are the ones who are going to have problems as a result of the vaccine. And that just makes sense. You know, vaccines are drugs and not every drug is for every person. Some people will react to antibiotics, some people will react to different products. We need to know what a person's susceptibility is, and yet Mia Freedman, in her wisdom, is saying 'no, everyone can be vaccinated safely' and that is simply wrong. And I think it's dangerous.

Leon: And yeah, also I think there's some - the major flaw in the proponents of mandatory vaccination is that she goes on to say even though this guy might have well intentions, his ill-informed decision has the potential to affect my family and yours. Well, if they're vaccinated, how are they going to be affected because they're covered.

Meryl: Don't confuse me with logic. That's very true. Did you notice when she talked about this guy and talks about how he did all this research, she mentioned that he left school at the age of 16, and wasn't that a little elitist for her to say, well that's why he made that decision, he obviously wasn't very well educated, so any research he did wouldn't have been accurate or good anyway.

Leon: That's right. The other thing you did mention which... I have to comment on this. The psychological programming in this is incredible because there's two sentences which are complete opposites where she said, "I'm certainly not suggesting become a flock of sheep or suspend critical thought" but the very next sentence says, "I don't need to do my research before I vaccinate".

Meryl: So she is suggesting that.

Leon: She is suggesting, and this is incredible because in a way she's made a statement to say you can't claim that I am not thinking this or that I'm advocating this, but then she does advocate it. It's just incredible. And I see this whole article is really aimed at people to make them feel good about not thinking, to make them feel good about not researching, to make them feel good about I don't have to worry about anything, I'll just trust the experts.

Meryl: That fact is that Mia Freedman is the product of the government's health policy right now which is everyone needs to vaccinate and we need to fear and hate those who don't do it. And that's exactly what she's saying. She's saying if you don't vaccinate you're not just making a decision for your child, you're making a decision for my vaccinated child. And it doesn't take a whole lot of intelligence to work out that that can't possibly be right. But this is like you said, suspending critical thought, this is exactly what the government wants people to think or not think, just to feel. Anger and fear at other people who've made decisions that are different than yours, and there's not very much difference between this sort of attitude and the attitude of racism or sexism because it is an illogical fear of people who are different. So this is what the government is trying to do.

Leon: You're absolutely right there. Creating the fear and then saying that we had the answer, and the answer is mandatory vaccination and you don't think about anything. We will look after the results. Unfortunately, with human life, we are left with the results of the effect on our children and our own health for as long as life lasts.

Meryl: That's right. And that's why we need to make an informed decision. It's not just enough to say I'll do whatever my doctor tells me because as lovely as a person your doctor is, they are not the be all and end all. You as a parent will always be more expert in your child's health than any doctor possibly could be. And that's because your around them 24 hours a day. You know when something changes, you know what they do. And you need to have the confidence to use your doctor as an advisor but, in the end, to accept that it's going to be your responsibility to make the decision.

Leon: Meryl, in closing, what else can you see on the radar in the near future? I suppose the push for flu vaccinations with winter coming will be on the agenda.

Meryl: Oh, it's starting already. There's a very strong push for the flu vaccine. But Leon, I'd like to say one thing and I'm not sure if we talked about this. This is about the Friends of Science in Medicine. Did we discuss this already, because I don't want to go over it again.

Leon: I don't think so. Go ahead.

Meryl: Ok. This is John Dwyer, he's one of the heads of this organisation, I use the term lightly because they're not really an organisation, they're just a loose group of people who want to stop anyone from being able to access any natural therapy. They're trying to shut down chiropractic, homeopathy, naturopathy. They call this non-evidence-based medicine, where the majority of drug based therapies are not evidence-based as well. And Friends of Science in Medicine are getting a lot of publicity and what they're trying to do is close down any university courses that are teaching any of these healing arts, like chiropractic. And the thing is if you want evidence-based medicine, don't you want it taught in a university? But they are very strong in trying to make sure that we lose our right to use these sorts of therapies. And I want people to be aware of this and I actually believe it's important that people write to their member of parliament and say that they oppose any restrictions on our ability to choose natural therapies or to choose to become a natural therapist. Because if John Dwyer and the Friends of Science in Medicine have their way, there will only be one answer to any health issue in Australia, and that will be mainstream medicine and drug-based therapies. So I think that's a very important thing for people to be aware of on the radar and to become active on as well. And if you use a natural therapist, please talk to them about it as well and make sure that they are aware of it and that they contact their association and say what are you doing to help protect us.

Leon: Absolutely. And once again it's the push towards the label of science, that only the certified science is to be respected and any other question is to be looked at as dangerous. Very well said and we need to keep them on the radar. Now, Meryl, recently you had a court case and fill us in a little bit about what the court case was and what the results were.

Meryl: Ok. Well, we had, there's an organisation called Stop the Australian Vaccination Network whose intention is exactly what their name is, to shut us down, to force our organisation to close down. And of the members of this group filed a complaint against us over two years ago now, almost two and a half years ago, with the Health Care Complaints Commission. And the Health Care Complaints Commission jumped through hoops to say that they had jurisdiction to investigate us because they're actually a government body that's supposed to be making sure that dangerous doctors are not operating. But instead, they went after our community organisation and myself personally. And from the very beginning we said they had no jurisdiction and it turned out after two and a half years of fighting and a case in the Supreme Court that we were right. The HCCC in their investigation came out and said that we were dangerous, deceptive and misleading, and as a result of that we have lost our charity authority, we have had two years of incredible stress but it's come out that the NSW Supreme Court agreed with us and said that the HCCC had no jurisdiction to investigate us, that both the original complaint and the investigation were outside the HCCC's jurisdiction, and everything has been wiped as if it never happened. So we're very gratified and very happy, and we've had costs awarded to us as well, so hopefully that can get us back on track because the last two years not being able to take new members, not being able to take donations because we lost our authority to be a charity, we've had to let go of all of our office staff. I've been doing everything myself. Hopefully this, we've turned a corner now with the Australian Vaccination Network and we'll be able to start growing again and start really working on the issues that we want to work on, which is protecting the right to freedom of choice and making sure that if people want information on the other side of vaccination it's available and there for them.

Leon: Does that mean that automatically your charity status is reinstated?

Meryl: No. Next week we have a hearing in the Administrative Decisions Tribunal in New South Wales, and the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing that administers charities has admitted that the only reason they removed our charity authority was because of the warning from the Health Care Complaints Commission. So we do believe that they're going to have to give it back to us because that warning is null and void. But at this point in time the court is out as they say, but we're hoping that it will be and once we get that charity authority back, we can take new members, we can take donations from the general public. It will make life easier for us and as I said, can continue to do the job that we need to be doing, and that we've done since 1994, supporting and informing Australians.

Leon: For the last two years you've basically been living on breadcrumbs, Meryl, just trying to battle through this case.

Meryl: Yes, I say the smell of an oily rag, that's how we've been travelling but it's been a very difficult time. But I have to say a big thank you to all of our members because if people were members of the AVN when this happened they were allowed to maintain their membership and to donate. And if it wasn't for the support of our members we would have closed down two years ago. But with the help of our members we've kept going and I think we've been fairly effective even though we've been running on a skeleton staff. Now that this is over with, we should be going from strength to strength. And it's a good time for us to be doing that because as you said before, the pressure is really on to try and stop anyone from thinking about vaccinations, natural health, or whether or not they want to question medical treatments.

Leon: Well, that's great news and we look forward to seeing what the results are next week, and hopefully you'll be able to restore your charity status and more people will be able to join and help support the work you do. You do great work, Meryl, and we appreciate it very much. Thank you. Well Meryl, thanks for joining us today, we appreciate your time and research and wish you all the best for the future.

Meryl: Thank you very much, Leon.