Fair Trading Minister Stuart Ayres today welcomed the announcement that the former Australian Vaccination Network Incorporated (AVN) has changed its name to Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network Incorporated.
Minister Ayres said Fair Trading had acted in the public interest by directing the Association to change its name in January 2013 and was pleased to see the closure of the matter.
“The decision to change its name to Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network Incorporated follows earlier action by Fair Trading requiring the Association to adopt a name which more accurately reflects its anti-vaccination stance.
“I am pleased to see the Association has adopted a name which reflects its purpose, given its overwhelming focus on the publication of anti-vaccination messages and information,” he said.
Minister Ayres said the adoption of a new name brings closure for the public with the new name coming into effect as of last Friday, 7th March 2014.
Fair Trading originally directed the Association to change its name under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 after receiving numerous complaints, including from the Australian Medical Association, that the AVN name was misleading given its anti-vaccination stance.
The Association unsuccessfully challenged Fair Trading’s direction in the then Administrative Decisions Tribunal with the Tribunal ordering the Association to change its name on 25 November 2013.
Minister Ayres said the new name is a win for the public and consistent with the Tribunal’s decision.
“The Association’s challenge to Fair Trading’s direction placed the decision squarely in the hands of the independent umpire. The Tribunal decision upheld Fair Trading’s direction, recommending the Association adopt a name which reflects its scepticism about vaccinations” he said.
Although not required to decide the issue of the new name, Magistrate Hennessy, Deputy President indicated that a name which included the word “risk” or ”sceptic” and vaccine or vaccination would be acceptable.
Minister Ayres said it was important that the Association was up-front about its anti-vaccination stance and that its name does not mislead the community about a very significant public health issue.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the vast majority of children in NSW are fully immunised for their age and that vaccines used in Australia have gone through extensive testing to determine their safety and effectiveness.
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