Newsletter 106: Public Interest Science in Industry-Sponsored Universities.
If the Australian Government wants the public to respect the law then it needs to make the law respectable (Suffragettes 1900's)
In the interests of demonstrating how the Australian government is designing government policy on health and the environment, I would like to provide you with my experience of researching vaccination policy at an Australian university. This is important because it demonstrates how independent research can be removed from policy design when funding is not provided. My research has shown that Australia’s vaccination policies are being designed on research that is sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and is not assessed by an independent board of researchers. In addition, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administrator (TGA), that approves and monitors the safety of vaccines, is 100% funded by industry. That is, the companies that benefit from the TGA approving their vaccines/drugs for use in the Australian population, also monitor the safety of these vaccines/drugs in the population. This represents an extreme conflict of interest.
I am providing this information because the Abbott/Turnbull government recently introduced the ‘No Jab No Pay’ social welfare policy that mandates 12+ vaccines for children under one year of age in order for parents to receive welfare benefits from the government. This is a discriminatory social welfare policy that coerces parents to use vaccines for financial benefit, even though Australia’s public health policy states vaccination in Australia is not compulsory. This policy is also dangerous for human health if the government is using pharmaceutically funded research that is not assessed by an independent board or an independent TGA. It is also unconstitutional and cannot protect the public interest in these policies because researchers use trade secrets to prevent all of the clinical trial data from being independently assessed.
Here is chapter 6 of my thesis titled Industry Influence in Research and Policy that describes the way science is being performed in industry-sponsored universities. Recently my research has been criticised by Associate Professor Leask, social scientist with the government funded National Centre for Immunisation and Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), and I have included my reply to her unsupported criticisms of UOW and my research in this newsletter. Below is a description of my journey to complete an investigation into the government's vaccination policies, as an independent researcher who vaccinated her own children.
Experiences in researching vaccination in Australia:
In 2006 I completed my Master of Science degree (Population Health) at the University of Wollongong (UOW) in the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences. This included a major research project investigating the evidence for the Australian government’s policy on whooping cough vaccine An Analysis of the Federal Government’s Whooping Cough Policy. This project was awarded a high distinction in 2006 by UOW academics and I requested to continue my research in the Faculty of Health/Behavioural Sciences with a PhD. I was informed that this Faculty would not provide supervisors to investigate vaccination and that my PhD should be completed in the Faculty of Arts because of the politics involved. It was recommended that I complete this project in the School of Science and Technology Studies at UOW. Consequently my PhD research has been completed in the School of Humanities with Brian Martin (Professor of Social Science) as my principle supervisor. I applied for government funding for this independent research examining the development of the government’s vaccination policy but no funding was provided.
Since publicly debating my research in 2009 I have been attacked with false and misleading information in the media and on social media by journalists and individuals with links to the Australian Skeptics and SAVN lobby groups. Please find below a copy of the letter I have written to Associate Professor Julie Leask, at the NCIRS to address the criticisms she has made of my research on her blog. This letter asks Julie Leask to support the criticisms she has made about the public interest science that I performed at the University of Wollongong and completed in 2015. I am waiting for Julie Leask’s reply to this letter and will publish it when I receive it.
5 May 2016
Dear A/Professor Leask,
It has been brought to my attention that you are seeking to undermine the academic process by questioning the University of Wollongong re the awarding of my PhD that critiques the Australian government's vaccination policy. In addition, you have chosen to describe this award as "deeply concerning". Here is the quote from your blog:
'Another teleconference – this time to discuss a paper that I and colleagues are writing that covers the deeply concerning decision of the University of Wollongong to award a PhD based on a highly questionable critique of vaccine policy making in Australia. More on that later.' (https://julieleask.wordpress.com/)
I am very concerned about your comments and actions particularly as members of lobby groups (SAVN and the Australian Skeptic groups) have misused the university's processes to tarnish my research, instead of debating the issues. In fact, you also declined to publicly debate this topic when a public forum was organised at the University of Technology in Sydney (UTS) (15 October 2015). And like administrators of the SAVN lobby group and Australian Skeptic lobby groups, you prefer to attack the academic process and the person, instead of publicly debating the issues.
As your comments are criticising the UOW as well as my research, I am giving you this opportunity to publicly debate the issues you are concerned about. Here is a link to my thesis http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4541/ and I have copied this email to the Vice Chancellor as well as the academics who have observed the attacks on my research and reputation by lobby group members. These lobby groups have presented false and misleading information about my research in the mainstream media.
Therefore I am asking that you please provide your concerns about my PhD thesis to myself and the others copied into this email so they can be publicly debated. I would also like you to provide the reason why you and Professor McIntyre declined to attend the public forum organised at UTS in October 2015 to debate the issues surrounding the 'No Jab No Pay' policy. This issue involves financial coercion to use a medical intervention in a social welfare policy (not a public health policy) - a breach of the Nuremberg Code, the Australian Immunisation Handbook and many other human rights codes.
Please ensure that your response is copied to everyone in this email and it will also be debated with other concerned community members. I look forward to your prompt reply.
Judy Wilyman PhD