Is the AVN finished?

Recently released information shows that Australia’s leading anti-vaccination organisation is on the way out.

The gradual decline of the Australian Vaccination Network from the darling of the movement in Australia to a nonentity has been graphically demonstrated with the release of the organisation’s annual summary of financial affairs lodged with NSW Fair Trading.

The AVN’s income for the 2014-15 financial year was $21,514, less than a tenth of what it was in 2011, and a massive decrease from a peak of nearly $350,000 in 2009.

Likewise for the organisation’s membership numbers – currently 234 diehards versus a peak of over 2000 in 2011.

A third blow to the AVN has been the ‘disappearing Dorey’ trick. Meryl Dorey, the organisation’s founder, president and self-declared “leading expert on vaccination”, has gradually moved away from any role. Papers filed in June indicate she resigned as public officer, that role going to Rebecca ‘Bek’ Henry of Sydney. Dorey had already stood down as president in 2012, and recently returned to the USA.

Little is known of Henry, except she was listed as a committee member in 2013. Current president is Tasha David

The AVN and Dorey are intrinsically linked; for years she was the only spokesperson for the group and had much favourable media coverage. This success was stymied by the arrival of Stop the AVN, a Facebook-based group that continually gathered evidence and lobbied government authorities to have the AVN’s influence and operations curtailed.

This was achieved over years of concerted action with authorities such as the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission, the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing, and NSW Fair Trading, attacking the organisation on a range of fronts – medical, financial and even its name (it was forced to add the word “Skeptics” to become “Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network” in 2013).

Over the years, Dorey had upset many supporters of the AVN with her often unrestrained comments about vaccination, several times comparing it with rape, and comparing legislation limiting the organisation’s activities with the treatment of the Jews in Nazi Germany.

With Dorey’s withdrawal, and the organisation’s serious decline in finances and membership, it can only be a short time before the whole organisation is defunct.

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