AVN meeting flops

The Australian Vaccination Network’s latest meeting in Perth to promote its cause has proved to be a major ‘disappointment’ – to say the least – for the antivaccination group, with only a tiny audience turning up.

Unlike its first controversial meeting on June 1 at the State Library of WA, which reportedly attracted a ‘house full’ audience of about 200, the latest meeting on July 20 at the same venue attracted less than a third of that number, with around 60 people turning up, some of whom were Skeptics.

One of those Skeptics reports that many in the audience left during the seminar by AVN acting-president Meryl Dorey and Murdoch University PhD student Judy Wilyman, and with some more departing before question time.

Local Skeptic and podcaster Kylie Sturgess says “There was no crowd outside, even before the 6.30pm official start. Unlike the  last time they lectured, there were no parents I could see, no babies in arms or children, and a few sparse flyers and pamphlets on just one table, rather than the splashed array of paperwork on two tables they had last time

“There were security guards as before, with just as boring a job as it must have been last time, with well-behaved Skeptics politely handing out our flyers. There was no list of names to be seen; a fellow Skeptic was even able to buy a ticket at the door – clearly bookings ahead of time just weren’t popular for Dorey the second time around.”

She suggests several possible factors that might have contributed to the sparse attendance for the lecture. One factor might have been a once-is-enough attitude; another might have been Skeptical flyers handed out at the first meeting. An important influence was no doubt a free public information seminar by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research (TICHR) on “Vaccination. The Experts. The Facts”. Held on July 1, it featured the latest scientific evidence surrounding childhood vaccination.

But the key factor was probably the recent NSW Health Care Complaints Commission investigation of the AVN – which said the group was misleading and inaccurate – plus a critical ABC Lateline report that followed up on the HCCC’s report.

Skeptics throughout Australia had worked hard on presenting facts to the audience at the latest meeting, and should be congratulated for their efforts which helped to achieve obvious results.