Vaccination network to be audited

Meryl Dorey.
Meryl Dorey.

THE BANGALOW-BASED Australian Vaccination Network will undergo a full audit by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing following complaints it has been unlawfully fundraising.

Charity inspectors are expected to soon visit the organisation’s office to examine records and interview staff to check if it has been operating in breach of the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991.

A spokesperson for the office said it made inquiries about the network last year after a complaint was lodged.

The office warned the network about a breach of its fundraising authority conditions as it did not have a mechanism to properly and effectively deal with complaints relating to fundraising.

The audit will also attempt to determine whether the network has conducted unlawful fundraising during a period it was without a fundraising authority, between July 2, 2007 and June 2, 2009.

Network president Meryl Dorey said the authority had expired but they had been granted an extension.

The complaint against the network was lodged by a group known as Stop the AVN, which was formed after the death of Lennox Head baby Dana McCaffery from whooping cough last year.

The group blames the network for low-immunisation rates and high levels of whooping cough in the Northern Rivers.

Mrs Dorey described the group as a ‘thorn in the AVN’s side’.

On July 14 last year, Stop the AVN member, Ken McLeod, lodged a complaint with the Health Care Complaints Commission about the network and Mrs Dorey, on the basis she was assuming the role of a health educator and advisor, but was in breach of the code of practice for health providers by disseminating wrong information.

The commission is expected to conclude its investigation soon.

Mr McLeod is also threatening Mrs Dorey with legal action after she published statements about him online that he alleges were defamatory.

The group has also lodged a complaint with the Registry of Cooperatives and Associations alleging the network has operated in breach of the law.

The Northern Star was unable to confirm if the registry received the complaint.

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