Vaccination network charity banned

THE Australian Vaccination Network will no longer be permitted to collect charitable donations after the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing revoked the organisation's fundraising authority.

The decision, effective from Monday, came after the OLGR found the AVN had breached Section 31 of the Charitable Fundraising Act.

It found the AVN had not raised funds in ‘good faith' because it had refused to comply with a request made earlier this year by the Health Care Complaints Commission that a disclaimer be displayed on its website, stating the information provided was anti-vaccination and not medical advice.

“This has resulted in an unacceptable risk of potential donors to the organisation being misled when making a decision whether or not to make a donation, which has led to appeals not being conducted in good faith,” the OLGR said.

The OLGR also found fundraising appeals had been ‘improperly administered' because the AVN's website may have misled people into believing they were making a donation to a cause which promoted vaccination, whereas the organisation adopted an ‘anti-vaccination position'.

The OLGR also found it was in the public interest to revoke the fundraising authority, referring to the AVN's failure to comply with the HCCC recommendation to display a website disclaimer.

This failure posed a risk to public health and safety and, for this reason, it was not in the public interest to permit the organisation to conduct fundraising appeals under the Act, it said.

AVN media spokesperson Meryl Dorey said the decision was an abuse of power and a government attempt to suppress legitimate dissent.

“Had the OLGR based its decision upon the simple errors which were found during our audit – errors which any small, volunteer-run organisation can and does make – it would have been unfair, but not unexpected,” Ms Dorey said.

Ms Dorey said the AVN was a victim of a campaign to shut it down, which had included death threats to committee members and hate mail.

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