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Family law and vaccination in the courts again

By October 4, 2018October 28th, 2021No Comments

There has been concern expressed over the fact that a mother has enlisted the support of a notorious anti-vaccination campaigner, Dr Judy Wilyman, to provide an “expert opinion” in a family law and vaccination case where the parents are in dispute over their children’s immunisation.

In the matter heard in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane, a father is seeking to have his children vaccinated while the mother opposes this.

The matter will likely again raise questions over the standard of experts providing opinions in family court matters, which we mentioned in our blog last week.

In this case, there is concern over the fact that Australia’s most outspoken anti-vaccination activist is now presenting herself as an expert witness in a family law and vaccination matter in the courts.

Dr Wilyman, who has submitted an “expert witness statement” to the court in relation to the issue of vaccination, came under fire back in 2016 when she received a humanities PhD from the University of Wollongong after claiming an immunisation conspiracy involving government and the pharmaceutical industry. She herself has no particular expertise in immunisation science and doesn’t hold any medical qualifications.

When her PhD was awarded it was widely discredited by scientists and academics in the medical field, the peak clinical societies relating to microbiology, virology, immunology and infectious diseases, scientist Gustav Nossal, and even the executive dean of the University of Wollongong’s science, medicine and health faculty, Alison Jones.

In her thesis Dr Wilyman, who the newspaper describes as “a militant vaccination critic”, argued the World Health Organisation “colluded with pharmaceutical companies in a conspiracy to spruik unneeded vaccinations”.

In her court statement she argues that the government is not only turning a blind eye to vaccination dangers, but “suppressing evidence immunisation is ineffective and harmful”. She argues this amounts to the government “coercing parents”. She also argues that medical science has not proven that vaccines are not harmful.

Her statement claims that the government’s intervention on the issue of vaccination represents “coercion in a medical practice, instead of informed consent, and it is contrary to the good medical practice guidelines [and] all international human rights covenants”. Her statement contains claims that both doctors and the pharmaceutical industry ignore the risks of immunisation. She says the government has not supplied “hard scientific evidence of safety and efficacy of vaccines because it cannot”.

She challenged the father to provide such evidence, and if it were not forthcoming, argued that “fully informed consent has not been provided and there is no evidence that vaccinating with the full schedule of 16 vaccines will be in the best interest of [the children subject to the court case]”.

Dr Wilyman said: “If the mother does not wish to vaccinate then the default position must be not to vaccinate.”

While the mother is presenting Dr Wilyman’s statement in support of her case, the father in the matter has enlisted the former director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research, Peter McIntyre, to rebut Dr Wilyman’s arguments.

Australia’s Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has dismissed her claims. The government’s spokesperson said: “The science is in and the medical experts advice is absolute – vaccinations save lives and protect lives and they are an essential part of a healthy society. We have no time for false claims made by anti-vaxxers.”

The newspaper reports that until a judgment is delivered in the case, it’s impossible to know how the credibility of Dr Wilyman’s statement was regarded. From the article, it appears that her credibility is somewhat in doubt:

To back her claims of expertise, Dr Wilyman lists a number of presentations and publications on the topic of immunisation, including a 2011 work in Medical Veritas. That website is run by Leonard G. Horowitz, who claims vaccinations lead to “genocide” and that the Rockefeller Foundation is engaged in “musical cult control” through the tuning standard.

In her statement, Dr Wilyman claims:

“I am qualified to write this report because I am an independent person with expertise in public health and the effects of toxins on the human body”.

But rather than Dr Wilyman’s statements simply being accepted by the courts, it’s quite likely her report’s admissibility will be challenged as an “expert report”, according to University of Queensland academic Patrick Parkinson, quoted in the newspaper. He points out “there is a very rigorous test of admissibility” regarding expert witnesses:

“They must demonstrate they have expertise in the area and they must demonstrate their views and recommendations are based upon that expertise…This seems to be the law working properly.”

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

You may also like to read our blog on family law and vaccination.

Do you have questions about family law and vaccination? Alliance Legal Services is experienced in all family law related immunisation issues. Whatever help you need, feel free to call us on 02 6223 2400.

Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Legal Services.

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