AVN's charity licence reinstated
THE controversial Australian Vaccination Network has started collecting memberships and seeking donations for the first time in almost two years after being reinstated with its charity fundraising licence.
The reinstatement has angered AVN opponents, who believe the group is getting credibility it does not deserve.
The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing stripped the Bangalow-based advocacy group, which is criticised for acting like an anti-vaccination organisation, of its fundraising authority in October 2010 after an investigation found the organisation breached fundraising laws.
Part of the reason for the revocation was the Health Care and Complaints Commission's decision in July 2010 to issue a public warning about what it deemed to be misleading information from the AVN.
In February this year, the AVN claimed a small victory when the NSW Supreme Court ruled the HCCC was outside of its jurisdiction when it issued its warning.
The network claimed another win on Tuesday night when AVN spokeswoman Meryl Dorey received confirmation from the OLGR it was reinstating the group's charity licence.
"We were aware that it was going to happen as the OLGR admitted that the only reason they revoked it was because of the HCCC warning and since that was ruled illegal, they had to give it back," Mrs Dorey explained.
Mrs Dorey was on the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday night as a guest speaker at a Healthy Choices seminar at the Maroochydore RSL Club.
She said she would be taking "memberships and donations" for the first time in two years.
Ken McLeod, of Stop the AVN, said the OLGR seemed to have disregarded the frauds and regulatory breaches it found during an audit into the AVN in 2010.
"What the hell is the government doing giving the licence back when they found these frauds in the first place?" he said.
"It gives the AVN credibility with normal people ... that they don't deserve. We are a little surprised, but the campaign will continue."
A spokesman for the OLGR said it issued the AVN with a new charity fundraising authority after assessing a new application.
"OLGR also took into account remedial action taken by AVN to rectify breaches of the charity laws previously identified," he said.
Mrs Dorey said OLGR told her the breaches were the sort that could be seen in any "small, understaffed organisation".