Meryl Dorey Of The AVN – Appearance On National Indigenous Radio Service (NIRS)

Appearing on the 98.9 Queensland radio station – an Indigenous, government funded radio station - Meryl Dorey is now advising the listeners in rural and remote areas on vaccinations.

Here’s some of the transcript that I’ve made:

Tiga Bayles: Today I have an interesting guest with an interesting topic; we’re talking about freedom of speech, the right to make free and informed decisions or give free and informed consent. We’re not talking about just black fellas today or First Nation peoples we’re talking about all Australian parents. And the topic and subject is vaccinations. You should be in a position where you can give free and informed consent to that issue, to that topic of “do you or don’t you get your child vaccinated”. 

…Yes, the system doesn’t encourage us as parents and  grandparents to do anything other than vaccinate, they are, uh, the propaganda  is all out there, there’s so much of it, and rarely do we get the opportunity to hear somebody say “Here’s another angle on things, here’s another side to that story, here’s some more information regarding what you’re doing, regarding what vaccination means – is that the case?

Meryl Dorey: What you’ve said so true, not only doesn’t it encourage parents or other people who are trying to make a decision about vaccination to make an informed choice, they actively discourage it. We have the health minster in Queensland saying it’s nonsense to look at the other side of the vaccination issue. An the National Health and Medical Research Council which is the government body that’s involved with this, says that you have to make an informed choice. So all we’re doing is trying to support what the NHMR says and allow people to make and informed choice. If doctors and the government were doing their job, we wouldn’t have to be here… it’s all okay, because it’s very important that this information is available.

7.00 min: …what happens in Australia, only about one percent of the reactions that happen after drugs or vaccines ever get reported, so when doctors tell us “Oh, the vaccines are perfectly safe,” what they’re doing is they’re basing that statement on information that’s at least 99% incorrect. You wouldn’t make a decision on information that was so incorrect if you knew how wrong it was.

So, I think that parents need to be aware that doctors are not reporting reactions and we have a reactions database where they can report to us and we report to the government. And of course, since we’ve never had the funding to advertise this except in interviews like this, the reports we get are just the tip of the iceberg.

10:38 minEvery year in Australia, about eighteen thousand people die as a result of adverse reactions to properly prescribed drugs and medical error, and the Health Department and the medical community do not have a great track record when it comes to keeping people healthy. The Australian Bureau of Statistics, say that 40%, so almost half of all Australian children under the age of twelve are currently being treated for at least one chronic condition – so they’re on medication all the time, for a chronic condition. And that was not the case 20 or 30 years ago, this is something fairly recent. The AVN says that the medical literature is showing that vaccination can be one of the causes, certainly not the only cause for that problem.

But people need to be aware of what vaccines they’re giving their children, why they’re vaccinating and how effective and how safe the vaccines are – and this organisation, Stop the AVN say that you’re not entitled to know that. And I think that people should be aware that there is such a strong push from a very small section of the community to stop them from being informed.

Essentially, as I found via Helen Dale and Chrys Stevenson discussing on Facebook, the host, Tiga Bayles agrees with everything she says. Apparently “He believes whole-heartedly in homeopathic vaccines and mega-doses of Vitamin C”.

It’s been suggested by Helen and Chrys that we make a complaint to the station (National Indigenous Radio Service) and to the Australian Communication and Media Authority. “You might mention to ACMA that as Tiga Bayles is the chairman of NIRS it seemed a bit pointless leaving the complaint solely with them.”

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • Daniel Sinnott

    This sickens me – The aboriginal people already have a raft of health problems to tend with, and to have Meryl influencing them against vaccination is abhorrent.

    The woman has no morals and obviously no idea!

  • http://thinkingisreal.blogspot.com/ Andy

    “We have the health minster in Queensland saying it’s nonsense to look at the other side of the vaccination issue. ”

    He didn’t say that, as I recall. He said Meryl Dorey’s information was nonsense. That’s quite a different thing. I’m surprised she’d misinterpret it ;)

    Thanks Kylie. I started listening to it earlier tonight but didn’t get past the 3-minute mark (on fast-forward). I couldn’t stomach it.

  • http://skepticalhumanities.com Bob

    I was wondering what was causing so many Australians on my twitter feed to convulse from sheer irritation. :)

    Is “black fellas” PC in Australia?

    • Kylie Sturgess

      Bob – it’s not a term I would use, but in the context of the transcript, I was quoting the speaker:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Aborigines#Legal_and_administrative_definitions – probably the best overview.

      Another great summary – in http://www.brumac.com.au/aust-ed-atsi.html:

      “The Little Red, Yellow and Black Book, published by Aborginal Studies Press, has this under the heading “What we call ourselves” (page 7):

      Government officials and other people who want a word to include both Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people use “Indigneous Australians” or “Indigenous peoples”. This language is also used in the United Nations, who refer to Indigneous peoples from all around the world. When referring to ourselves, we use a variety of broad, regional “tribal” or linguistic labels. For example, those of use from New South Wales and Victorial might call ourselves Kooris, Queenslanders Murris, or, in the north, Bama, Tasmanians Palawa, South Australians Nunga and south-west Australians use Nyoongars (also Nyungar). (There can be different spellings to some of these words.) Those of us living on the coast call ourselves “saltwater” and others “freshwater” people. But many of us would rather be identified by a language label; for example, a Gurindji man or a Gubbi Gubbi woman. Torres Strait Islanders prefer to use the name of their islands to identify themselves to outsiders; for example, a Badulayg or a Meriam. Socio-political groupings are also common in the native title area — by definition these groups are bound by their laws and customs. This can be reflected in the use of the word “nations” or “peoples”.
      When referring to Australia’s Indigenous peoples it is acceptable to say “Aboriginal people”, “Torres Strait Islanders” or “Indigenous people”. When written, these labels are capitalised. You may sometimes hear us referring to ourselves as “blackfellas” in a joking, non-derogatory way. However, we advise you not to use it unless you know your audience well.”

  • Mandrellian

    Oy vey *shakes head* That’s the last thing indigenous people need – a proven liar implying vaccines aren’t as safe as “They” tell you.

    Due to conditions like poverty, remoteness and reduced access to services, Aboriginal children routinely contract preventable conditions like tuberculosis, Hep A, invasive pneumococcal disease and Hib. And Dorey’s on the radio sending mixed messages to those in the greatest need of a clear and unambiguous source of information. The broadcasting authority needs to know what the station is pushing on its listeners.

    Source: [http://www.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/content/Handbook-indigenous]

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  • Aliasalpha

    Okay thats it, I’m running for government. When swept into overwhelming near-dictatorial power by a combination of rhetoric, wit and devastating good looks, my first act will be to enact a law where people trying to contradict provable science, especially for personal gain, will have to provide conclusive evidence for their claims or be repeatedly punched in the face by me. I think its the personal touch that makes good government…

    • http://immaletyoufinish.blogspot.com AspieWarrior

      I’ll vote for you :)

  • Liz

    As a health professional who has first hand seen the complications of middle ear infections in the indigenous community, Meryl’s comments enrage me. Health literacy is quite poor in many Indigenous communities and her ridiculous comments only aid in creating greater confusion and lack of understanding of major health issues. Vaccination is one of several ways to help prevent and/or mitigate the severity of otitis media in Indigenous children. Health professionals already face major hurdles in providing services to Indigenous communities, and this woman’s ignorant comments only increase the challenges we face. She has no understanding of peer review or evidence based practice (something which all legitimate health professionals must adhere to). I can’t believe people even give this idiot air time when there are so many REAL health professionals who would jump at the opportunity to provide evidence based information on effective treatment and prevention of various health issues faced by many Indigenous Australians.

  • Alex

    A little nitpicky, but this pissed me off:

    “The Australian Bureau of Statistics, say that 40%, so almost half of all Australian children under the age of twelve are currently being treated for at least one chronic condition – so they’re on medication all the time, for a chronic condition.”

    This matches roughly with the analysis of chronic conditions in the ABS National Health Survey (NHS), however she completely misinterprets it. For someone to be considered to have a chronic condition in the NHS they need to have been diagnosed and expect it to last for 6 months or more, but there is no requirement for them to be medicated.
    Further more, the most common conditions are asthma, hay-fever and undefined allergies (12%, 8%, and 6% of all children respectively) which, as far as i am aware, are usually medicated intermittently.
    The next most common are long and short sightedness, about 4% of children each, which are usually treated with glasses.
    So the claim that 40% of children are on medication all the time is stupid, and she is either being deliberately misleading or amazingly negligent in her research. All this is available in a report that is in the public domain, or for free from the ABS if you want to jump though some hoops, so she doesn’t have any excuse (A Picture of Australia’s Children, 2009 found here: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442468252&tab=2 ).

  • http://mycolleaguesareidiots.com/ Jason

    Kylie, we have a full transcript over at SAVN. We’re working on a detailed response now

    • Kylie Sturgess

      I beat you to it! :p This is all I’ve posted but if you have a formal website, feel free to link to it.

  • http://skepticlawyer.com.au/ skepticlawyer

    Our house cartoonist got to it, rather:

    http://skepticlawyer.com.au/2011/12/20/unreal-australians/

    (I’m Helen Dale, btw, this is just my nom de blog.)

    Jason, when you have a link to your material, would you pop it in the comments over at our place, so I can draw people’s attention to it?

  • http://thecanberracook.blogspot.com Alethea H. Claw

    Err, Alex, while you’re being nitpicky, AIHW is not ABS. (Yeah, OK, both are Australian statistical agencies, so what does anyone care?) There’s very few hoops to get any of our pubs – all are free PDFs.

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  • http://www.thatsmyphilosophy.wordpress.com Chrys Stevenson

    Kylie, I hope you won’t mind me mentioning that I’ve written about my emotional response to this appalling interview on Mama Mia today. The article is here: http://www.mamamia.com.au/news/a-three-part-tragedy-meryl-dorey-on-aboriginal-health/

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