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Australian Vaccination Network ordered to change its nameĀ 

25 November 2013

Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts today welcomed a decision by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) to order the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) to change its name on the grounds it is misleading.

The ADT has upheld NSW Fair Trading’s direction to the AVN to change its name.

Mr Roberts said Fair Trading had acted in the public interest by requesting the AVN change its name, based on claims the name is unacceptable under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009.

“Fair Trading acted in this matter after receiving numerous complaints, including from the Australian Medical Association, that the AVN name was misleading given its overwhelming focus on the publication of anti-vaccination messages and information,” Mr Roberts said.

“The time has come for AVN to find a name which reflects its anti-vaccination stance.

“This is about being open and upfront about what you stand for, not hiding behind a name which could mislead the community about a very significant public health issue.”

On 21 December 2012, the Associations Incorporation Amendment (Unacceptable Names) Regulation 2012 commenced. The amendment expanded the classifications of unacceptable names to include a name likely to mislead the public in relation to the nature, objects or functions of an association.

In January, Fair Trading issued a direction to the AVN to change its name on the basis it was undesirable because it had the potential to mislead the public.

On 8 February 2013, the Association sought an internal review of that decision. The internal review was completed on 19 February, affirming the original decision.

The Association then lodged an appeal in the ADT.

At the first hearing on 22 March 2013, Judge O’Connor, President of the Tribunal, placed conditions on the organisation, including that a prominent consumer warning be published on the AVN website and its Facebook page by 26 March 2013.

The warning stated Fair Trading had directed AVN to change its name because it regarded the name to be misleading and that the direction was being challenged before the Tribunal.

AVN has 28 days to lodge an appeal against today’s decision.

Mr Roberts said Fair Trading reserves the right to pursue costs associated with any ongoing legal action undertaken by AVN.

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