This is the YouTube video of the Lateline segment on the HCCC's report against the AVN. The report will not be publicly available for another two weeks. The transcript comes directly from the Lateline website. You can find the Blog post here.
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission has compiled a damning report after examining Australia's most prominent anti-vaccination group, the Australian Vaccination Network.
The commission accuses the AVN of providing inaccurate and misleading information and selectively quoting research out of context to argue against vaccination.
It's also noted accusations that the AVN harassed the parents of a child who died of whooping cough last year, after they'd advocated the importance of childhood vaccination.
The report's likely to go public within the next two weeks.
For its part, the AVN maintains it's not an anti-vaccination network, merely wanting parents to make informed choices.
Steve Cannane reports.
STEVE CANNANE, REPORTER: Meryl Dorey runs the Australian Vaccination Network from a home office on the North Coast of NSW. The AVN provides anti-vaccination information through their website, their magazine and seminars. But an investigation into the AVN by the Health Care Complaints Commission has found that the information they provide to parents is inaccurate and misleading.
MERYL DOREY, AUSTRALIAN VACCINATION NETWORK: This was not an independent investigation. This was an investigation by an organisation that set out to support Government policy, which is pro-vaccination. ... We do not agree that the HCCC has any jurisdiction over us and we have been telling this from the very beginning and we are seeking legal advice on this issue.
KEN MCLEOD, COMPLAINANT TO HCCC: I think they're a bunch of ratbags. I mean, reason and science just does not break through. They're not interested in the reality, they're interested in conspiracy theories and junk science.
STEVE CANNANE: Ken McLeod is the man who took the initial complaint against the AVN to the Health Care Complaints Commission.
KEN MCLEOD: I remember as a six-year-old seeing the look of horror on my father's face as the doctor told him that my sister had polio and my mother just being so shattered. And I remember going to the hospital ward in Townsville to visit my sister and it was an entire ward full of dozens of kids, little babies with polio. And it was awful, absolutely awful, and then only a year or so later, the polio vaccine came and this just disappeared. It was like magic. And it was just wonderful, and then, all these years later you now find people who are trying to set the clock back fifty years, and I thought, "Someone's got to do something."
STEVE CANNANE: More and more people rely on the internet for health care information. If you Google vaccination, the Australian Vaccination Network comes up second on the list of sites. But nowhere on their website do they declare they are an anti-vaccination organisation.
MERYL DOREY: Our position is to provide information that balances the information that parents get from their doctors and from the government. We have never said that we provide both sides of the story. We don't.
STEVE CANNANE: Nobel prize-winning immunologist Professor Peter Doherty says denying children vaccines is a crime against humanity.
PETER DOHERTY, NOBEL PRIZE WINNER: The reason it is a crime against humanity is it's really a crime against children, and children are vulnerable, we're responsible for them and basically anything that will adversely affect children strikes at us as a society.
STEVE CANNANE: Dana McCaffery died of whooping cough in March last year. She was just 32 days old - too young to be vaccinated against the disease also known as pertussis.
What her parents didn't realise was that they lived in an area with one of the lowest rates of childhood vaccination in the nation and one of the highest rates of whooping cough.
The McCaffery's live just a few kilometres from the headquarters of the Australian Vaccination Network. They say they've been harassed by the AVN since their daughter died and that the AVN has made repeated claims that Dana didn't die of pertussis.
TONI MCCAFFERY, PARENT: Our daughter wasn't even buried and it began. It began the day before her funeral. It began with phone calls to the Health Department to get her medical records contending she didn't die of pertussis.
STEVE CANNANE: This email from Paul Corben, the director of public health at the North Coast Area Health Service, backs up Toni McCaffery's claims.
PAUL CORBEN, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH, NORTH COAST AREA HEALTH SERVICE (male voiceover): "Ms Dorey called me on 12 March seeking details of your daughter's illness and death. Ms Dorey contended that I had misled the public in attributing your daughter's death to pertussis."
MERYL DOREY: I never said any of that. All I asked was ...
STEVE CANNANE: That's what he says in an email to Toni McCaffery.
MERYL DOREY: Well, I'm sorry, that's not true. That is not true. All I said was, "How was the diagnosis made? If it was a quick test, do you know that it's a real test and that the result is real? Was it really whooping cough?"
STEVE CANNANE: Meryl Dorey says repeatedly that Dana McCafferey "supposedly" died of pertussis.
TONI MCCAFFERY: It's the most offensive statement because I watched over five days my beautiful daughter suffer the most agonising death. She was just this innocent little girl who - it was cruel. But then to be put in a position where I have to prove that she died of pertussis, that's even crueller.
DAVE MCCAFFERY, PARENT: And she's diminishing the fact that pertussis does and can kill and it's gonna lead to someone to make a decision about vaccination that could put their baby or their family at risk, and that's not right.
STEVE CANNANE: OK, there is a post that you made in reference to the sceptics which said, "Isn't it incredible how they have made Dana into a martyr because she supposedly died from whooping cough?" Now could ...
MERYL DOREY: Did I say that?
STEVE CANNANE: Yeah.
MERYL DOREY: I don't believe I did.
STEVE CANNANE: OK.
MERYL DOREY: Let me see.
(Steve Cannane hands over statement.)
MERYL DOREY (reading from statement): "... but ignore all of the children and adults who have died after vaccination."
STEVE CANNANE: Yeah, but you still said that.
MERYL DOREY: I did say that and I still think that a death is a death.
STEVE CANNANE: Could you imagine reading that if your daughter had died of whooping cough? How would that make you feel?
MERYL DOREY: Can you imagine reading the Stop the AVN site or the Dana site ... ?
STEVE CANNANE: I'm asking you about comments you've made; I'm not asking you about comments they've made.
MERYL DOREY: OK. That's fine. That's fine.
STEVE CANNANE: Can you imagine reading those comments?
MERYL DOREY: I can imagine and it would probably be hurtful and I would be sorry if she felt hurt from what I had said. But, from my point of view, all children are important, all deaths are important.
STEVE CANNANE: The McCaffrey's have made their own complaint to the HCCC about the AVN. They have continued to advocate publicly for vaccination and say the AVN continues to publish false and hurtful comments about them - like this Facebook post by an AVN representative.
AVN REPRESENTATIVE (Facebook post, female voiceover): "One day I hope the parents of this baby tell the whole story and are able to see how they've been used by a group of ruthless scumbags with alterior (sic) motives. Then maybe they will be able to honour their child's life with the truth."
DAVE MCCAFFERY: To suggest that we're being used by a group of people, that we're not honouring our daughter's life with the truth, is just reprehensible. They're terrible people.
STEVE CANNANE: The AVN has been given 14 days to comply with the HCCC's findings and place a statement on their website telling consumers they provide anti-vaccination information and that this information should not be read as medical advice.
Steve Cannane, Lateline.