Australia’s chief anti-vaccination group in tatters.

What’s left of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc.? Answer: not much, at least officially.

Following the claim that the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network’ (AVSN’s) Facebook page was handed over as a fan-operated page to a fake profile, “Ben Rush” (whom I have discussed previously), they have finally changed the name of the page to “Fans of the AV(S)N”. In addition, it is now mostly operated by the new admin Giselle Tonee, who is behind the recent (TW) rape analogies—presumably the reason they’ve gone the extra step in trying to distance the Facebook page from the organisation through the change of name. However, these also appeared on the AVSN’s Twitter account, which is still officially theirs:

AVSN Twitter page screenshot

This official AVSN Twitter account is still linked to (and posting) posts made to the Fans of the AV(S)N Facebook page, which includes the aforementioned rape analogies:

(photo now removed by the AVSN), and

In other news, the domain, and therefore the web site and email addresses, has recently been transferred to another organisation, Australian Vaccination News (AVN), details as follows. Note that it’s important that it be a non-profit organisation with the initialism AVN, otherwise they’d be ineligible to hold the domain under auDA rules.

Domain Name
Last Modified 25-Feb-2015 02:36:36 UTC
Status ok
Registrar Name NetRegistry
Registrant ID OTHER IA03156
Eligibility Type Non-profit Organisation
Registrant Contact ID PAGR1412
Registrant Contact Name Greg Payne
Registrant Contact Email
Tech Contact ID PAGR1412
Tech Contact Name Greg Payne
Tech Contact Email
Name Server
Name Server
DNSSEC unsigned

The organisation is registered in the Northern Territory, so almost certainly (particularly given the small size of Darwin) the Greg Payne listed is the Greg Payne who won the Richard Morris Community Spirit Award, for the greater Darwin area for volunteering for the St John Ambulance service. I do hope for the sake of the public he was vaccinated. I assume he’s related to (former?) AVSN committee member Kaye Payne aka Kaye Marskell:

AVSN membership 2013-02-28

Despite this, the page still carries the name and logo of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc.:

Taken 2015-05-15 09:30 AEST.

Taken 2015-05-15 09:30 AEST.

It also carries the current contact details of the AVSN:

AVSN contact details 2015-05-15

How do I know these belong to the AVSN and not the new web site operator the AVN? Because I called up that number and when the receptionist answered as from the “AVN” I asked what that stood for and was told quite clearly the “Australian Vaccination Skeptics”, leaving off the “Network”, although I was not corrected when I used the name in full, and it’s clearly not the Australian Vaccination News organisation. Note that the contact details have changed from the previous contact details, which were listed as recent as the 21st of April 2015 as:

AVSN contact details 2015-04-21

i.e. those of Meryl Dorey, who no longer seems to play any role in the AVSN at all. Indeed my good friend Ken McLeod has made enquiries:

Good morning Ms Dorey

Is there any truth to the rumour that you have severed all links to the AVSN?


Ken McLeod

We have asked NSW Fair Trading and the current president as to who the current public officer is. This was Meryl’s position after her presidency ended, and it seems from the contact details that she is no longer Public Officer. Update: NSW Fair Trading have confirmed (18/05/2015) that Meryl Dorey is listed as the current Public Officer. So what does she actually do in that role, then?

The change in contact details follows the recent donation drive on the 13th of April 2015 to establish a fighting fund “to oppose government moves to force families to decide between vaccinating their children or putting food on the table.” So where is the money going? Have we seen any use of this money to oppose these Government moves? No. Or even to help the families? Again, the answer is no. So where is the money going? Well at Level 14 Lumley House, 309 Kent Street in Sydney, we find Serviced Offices International, who provide, amongst other services, phone answering and mail handling services. The cheapest plan that covers both (as per the AVSN’s listed contact details) is $195/month, and the receptionist confirmed that the AVSN were paying for it.

Based on the above information, I have written to the new domain and web site owner to clarify some points:

Dear Mr Payne
I’m writing a blog post on how the AVSN no longer officially holds a number of digital assets, and I noticed that your association, the Australian Vaccination News – Risks, Information, Scepticism & Empowerment, Inc., now holds the domain (and therefore the web site of)
I am wondering what your relationship is with the AVSN—I assume you are a relative of (former?) AVSN committee member Kaye Payne / Marskell, please correct me if I’m wrong—and what arrangement you have with the AVSN to operate a web site that still carries their name, logo, and contact details?
Also, I’m wondering if you still volunteer for St John ambulance service and if so, do you meet all of their vaccination requirements?


Dr Matthew Berryman
Posted in health | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Moruya Chiro and “Wellness”

On the 20th of October, 2014, I wrote the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to make the following complaint:

Well-adjusted babies

On the 8th of October, Moruya Chiro and Wellness (ABN 98 527 501 549) stated that

We have a great collection of wellness resources for you. Come in to browse our library – some of them have been donated by clients. You are welcome to borrow any of our books on short-term loan.

As you can see in the screenshot image one of these books is Well Adjusted Babies which contains a chapter, in which one finds:

  • Claims that vaccination is ineffective:

Should the artificial immunity diminish and the individual be re-exposed to the antigens as a teenager or adult, the health consequences are unknown. It is suggested that the severity of experiencing these diseases increases with age and can often be fatal.

A well-nourished child will go through rubella, whooping cough, chicken pox and the rest with flying colours. Only the vaccinated develop atypical forms of the diseases (atypical measles, mumps and whooping cough) which are much more dangerous.

  • Claims that homeopathic vaccination is an alternative:

Homeopathic vaccinations are an effective and safe alternative to conventional innoculations and warrant your investigation.

Whooping cough is often slow to develop and may respond well to conservative management, including chiropractic, osteopathy, homeopathy, herbs, acupuncture or acupressure.

I am concerned that patients attending the Moruya Chiro and Wellness are provided with misinformation about vaccination, which can lead to a risk of illness or death.

Moruya Chiro and Wellness's bookshelf

Moruya Chiro and Wellness’s bookshelf

Cure cancer naturally

On the 11th of October, Morura Chiro and Wellness then posted an advert to the Truth About Cancer video series to be made available for free, based on a book. In particular the claim is made that one can: Find out how to prevent and treat cancer 100% naturally” both on the Facebook post and on the linked website, which reads:

28 Doctors, 11 Scientists, 9 Survivors And 1 “FDA Dragon Slaying” Attorney Break Their ‘Code Of Silence’ And Expose The TRUTH About Cancer And Exactly How To Prevent, Treat And Beat it 100% Naturally

Facebook post about cancer miracle “cure”.

Facebook post about cancer miracle “cure”.

Having reviewed this page and the trailer video,

I am concerned that members of the public are being provided with misleading information about cancer treatment by Moruya Chiro and Wellness. In particular the video recommends that people avoid tested and recommended treatments for cancer in favour of a natural miracle “cure”.

Further, I note that Moruya Chiro and Wellness removed the two warnings from a member of the public (as captured in the screenshot before they were removed), which link to both the TGA page on medicines and medical devices over the Internet (which contains a warning on wild claims particularly around miracle cures), and the ACCC Scamwatch warning on miracle cure scams.

I believe this advertisement is in breach of the following aspects of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code, which states that advertisements:

  • 4(2)(a) must not arouse unrealistic or unwarranted expectations of product effectiveness.

  • 4(2)(b) must not be likely to lead to self-diagnosis or inappropriate self-treatment of potentially serious diseases.

  • 4(2)(g) must not claim that the advertised product is magical or infallible.

  • 4(2)(h) must not claim that the advertised product is invariably effective.

  • 4(2)(i) must not claim that goods are completely safe, harmless, or free of side-effects.

  • 5 must not refer to serious conditions such as cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, or mental illness (subject to exceptions).


I received the following response from the TGA on the 28th of October, 2014:

Dear Matthew,

The TGA has been forwarded the attached complaint by the Complaints Resolution Panel.

The TGA has assessed the complaint and determined that no further action can be taken as the material does not appear to promote a therapeutic good and instead appears to relate to ‘health services’ and books. As such this material would be outside of the TGA’s jurisdiction.

You may wish to raise this matter with your State Health Department or the ACCC who may be able to take further action.

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), however, followed up with Moruya Chiro and Wellness, who, as per the below letter, removed the materials in question. Well done to the HCCC for following up on this and keeping me informed as to progress, in addition to allowing me to check that the materials had indeed be removed before closing the case.

Response to my complaint to the HCCC

Response to my complaint to the HCCC

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bash, OS X dhcp, and you

tl;dr: OS X is not vulnerable to shellshock exploitation via DHCP. So the shellshock bug is kinda nasty for anything running bash, particularly if you have services like Apache (and particularly with CGI scripts that use bash) open to the world. There are already active remote exploits as well as local exploits that target applications like VMWare Fusion (example). OS X comes with a vulnerable bash, and if you don’t want to wait (e.g. you are running Apache to the world) then you can update using these instructions. Now since DHCPclient implementations on Linux can be vulnerable this raises the question as to whether OS X is vulnerable to an attack via DHCP Looking at the Apple write of bootp (which handles BOOTP and DHCP in OS X starting with 10.0 and also looking into 10.1 and 10.9.4 (the latest for which source is downloadable), there are no calls to system() so we’re all good on that front. There is, however, in all of them, a call to popen, which sits inside tftp_get(). Thanks to Joe Vennix for pointing this out: Reading the man page for popen() reveals: > The command argument is a pointer to a null-terminated string containing a shell command line. This command is passed to /bin/sh, using the -c flag; interpretation, if any, is performed by the shell. That is called in the version supplied with 10.0: ./bsdpc.tproj/bsdpc.c: local_filename = tftp_get(inet_ntoa(server), path, &len, 5); Reader ErichL (see comments) points out that early versions of OS X (actually 10.0-10.2, not 10.3) didn’t come with bash, and Alastair points out that while the login shell was tcsh, the system shell was probably BSD’s Bourne shell, also not the GNU project’s Bourne Again SHell (which fits with the BSD heritage of OS X). So 10.0 isn’t affected.

The tftp_get() function is not called in the version supplied with 10.1, nor in 10.9.4 (and I assume fairly safely everwhere in between). Reader ErichL further points out that 10.8+ use configd instead of bootp (the software) and checking that code doesn’t reveal any system or popen calls. I’ve also tested the latest developer build of 10.10 (Yosemite) using some OS X-supplied DTrace magic, which reveals no spawning of bash or sh under a normal DHCP connection (i.e. no fancy options). The commands I used for checking are: sudo execsnoop -c sh sudo execsnoop -c bash I hope the above has been of some help getting to grips with shellshock on OS X and welcome feedback on this blog, or if it pertains to the patch script then leave a comment on the gist itself. Kudos and thanks to Yinette and Rob for their hard work on shellshock more generally.

Posted in Apple, security | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Universal Medicine cult wins Lismore Chamber of Commerce’s People’s Choice Award

Upon learning that the Universal Medicine cult recently won the Lismore Chamber of Commerce’s People’s Choice Award, I wondered whether it was as a result of vote spamming, as they have a prior form for that. So I wrote to the Lismore Chamber of Commerce to enquire further about their win:

Dear Madam/Sir,

I am writing an article on Universal Medicine winning the Lismore Chamber of Commerce’s People’s Choice Award, and invite your response on the following questions:
* Do you have any comment on the fact that a new-age esoteric breast and ovary massage “healer” group has won the People’s Choice awards?
* Do you think it reasonable that a charity is eligible for this award, instead of restricting eligibility to regular Lismore business for this award?
* Who was eligible to vote in the People’s Choice award?
* What if any measures were taken to prevent vote spamming by members / followers of this group?

Dr Matthew Berryman

I received the following response:

Dear Dr. Berryman
Re your email of Aug. 25th concerning the People’s Choice Award, the general public voted for their chosen business (s) so the award went to the business that received the most votes…just like an election. The voting rules were publicised prior to the awards night and the Chamber had nothing to do with the selection of the winning business…it was as the name implies, The People’s Choice Award.
I hope this answers your questions satisfactorily.

So, in other words, they have no comment other than to point out the eligibility criteria for votes, which are simply that anyone could have lodged a vote through either the Lismore Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page (poll obviously no longer appears) or through a nomination form available from the Northern Star newspaper. Thus, it was open to spamming by any business—and Universal Medicine is registered as a business, apparently you can sell kooky beliefs—that can get members / customers to vote. Their win is just further evidence of the grip they have over their members, and I wonder in the absence of that which deserving Lismore business might have won this award.

Posted in cults, ethics, health | 5 Comments

Mrs Dorey, devoid of science, resorts to lying.

In her recent Facebook post, devoid of any science, Mrs Dorey refers to the fact that I’m not a medical doctor. My qualifications aren’t related to the content as I was quite clearly referring to the HCCC decision, along with Fair Trading and other laws and regulations. As Mrs Dorey knows, I have a PhD and I have had a peer reviewed scientific paper on vaccination published, without any financial support. Mrs Dorey has no peer reviewed scientific publications to date on vaccination. If her arguments had any merit, why hasn’t she published? Particularly with millions of dollars raised and over two decades of research behind her. There’s no big conspiracy here, it’s that either she hasn’t bothered to try and publish her research, or it hasn’t been judged to have any merit by actual scientists. Ditto her attack on our poster presentation at the PHAA conference. Do her followers seriously believe the conspiracy theories she raises and not question why their money that they freely donate and give in membership fees are not used by Mrs Dorey to attend such a conference to influence Government policy with her supposed research?

Nor did I claim that the AVN Facebook page is owned by the AVSN. Facebook pages are owned by Facebook. The AVN Facebook page is clearly operated by the AVSN, as witnessed by the high number of postings that Public Officer Mrs Dorey makes there, that posts there are almost always cross-posted to the official Twitter account, and as also acknowledged by the HCCC in their
public warning about the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc. (‘AVN’), formerly known as Australian Vaccination Network Inc., irrespective of umming and ahhing by Fair Trading NSW. I do note, however, this correspondence from Fair Trading NSW where Mrs Dorey has committed to them to change the name, further proof that they operate it:
Screenshot 2014-06-18 13.15.52
The alleged page operator, “Ben Rush”, does not apparently exist. The irony that the original Ben Rush supported compulsory vaccination in defence of the other freedoms of the new republic of the United States of America seems lost on Mrs Dorey and the AVSN.

She doesn’t even display the common courtesy to use my name, claiming that I might censor her post on that basis alone. That’s a tactic that brave defender of unfettered free speech Mrs Dorey openly supports, not I.

Posted in health | 1 Comment

Public liability: AVN, “Dr” David Hendrey & the “Healthy Lifestyle” Expo

Dear Wayne,

I have been speaking with a lawyer, who pointed out to me that liability could arise if an adverse event was suffered as a result of information provided by the AVN or any other exhibitors for that matter. With the right to freedom of speech comes great responsibility, and I am sure that you would be seeking that your exhibitors have public liability insurance that covered such events. I note in fact that your exhibitors kit states: “In particular, the Exhibitor must confirm that the Public Liability Insurance policy held by them covers risks associated with display or merchandise at this Exhibition by the Exhibitor and covers YCHY FOUNDATION and Events”.

Exhibitors would therefore be obliged to report any pertinent details to their insurer regarding the information they provide / devices they sell / etc., such as the HCCC public warning in the case of the AVN, or that your official chiropractor makes false claims to treat autism and HIV. The reason I am raising this with you is that I am concerned, based on rather strong (and I might add defamatory) remarks by Meryl, that she may not have public liability insurance, and that if she does, she may not have advised her insurer of the risks identified by the HCCC in their report. Can you please confirm whether you have received a copy of the AVN’s public liability insurance or not; if so can you please advise me who the insurer is so I can liaise with the Insurance Fraud Bureau of Australia regarding the AVN’s compliance with disclosure regulations.

Warm regards,
Dr Matthew Berryman

Expo organiser Mr Pina-Roozemond responded rather promptly with:

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for the email, just letting you know that I do indeed have a copy of the relevant insurance document.  Taking your lead I called the insurance company to verify that everything was in order and it is.



I’m not entirely convinced that Mrs Dorey would be entirely covered in the event that someone did take her advice seriously, ended up ill, and sued, but I’m not an expert on law or insurance.  I am however pleased that the Expo organisers have considered this, and warned of the dangers of Mrs Dorey’s views and are providing pro-vaccination material:
Screenshot 2014-05-15 13.46.12

Whilst I do take offence at Mrs Robinson having falsely described my robust but polite debate as bullying, I am more offended to hear of bad behaviour on both sides of this issue. I hope the above exchange between myself and Mr. Pina-Roozemond serves as a good example.

Posted in health, human rights, science | Tagged , | Leave a comment

AVN: laughing stock

Hmm, what to say about the AVN’s latest rant against the HCCC except to say that the descriptions fit the AVN much better than they do the HCCC, for example:

Despite claims of the AVSN being an open book, the financial details remain something of a mystery. Why are your computing costs so high, for example—it looks like you are purchasing new computers every year, which seems excessive, along with your web hosting—and I deal routinely with these costs in my job. Also, were the professional fees for accounting, for lawyers, or some combination thereof?
Unlike Stop the AVN, I can’t see any money being spent directly on helping parents. Can you outline on which items in your budget the donations were put to, exactly?

To which the President of the AVN responds

I will not enter into any discussion with you regarding any deeper aspects of our financial affairs.

Posted in health | Tagged , , | 2 Comments