Catherine Hughes has been appointed to the SKAI Advisory Group, which will provide advice on the scientific direction and governance of the SKAI Collaboration, a three year project funded by Australian taxpayers via the federal Department of Health.

The SKAI Advisory Group provides advice on the scientific direction and governance of the project. The members of this group are:

Professor Terry Nolan, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne

Ms Karen Booth, President, Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA)

Dr Greg Rowles, General practitioner

Dr Elizabeth Marles, Royal Australasian College of General Practitioners

Catherine Hughes, Light for Riley

According to the NCIRS website linked above, the SKAI Collaboration will, in consultation with parents and health professionals, develop a package of resources designed to support conversations about childhood vaccination.

Hughes’ qualifications to provide scientific and governance advice have not been disclosed, nor whether the position was advertised, and, if so, what the selection criteria were.

The Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (AVN) recently reported on Hughes’ deep and longstanding connection with anti-choice groups, the Australian Skeptics and Stop the Australian Vaccination Network.

Catherine Hughes speaking at the 2017 Australian Skeptics Convention

Formal qualifications aside, Hughes’ connection with such disreputable groups, and her public derision of parents who hold concerns about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, raises obvious questions about her suitability for appointment on character grounds alone.

Derisive banner used in Catherine Hughes’ “anti-vaxer” presentation

A vaccine promotion star is born made

It was widely reported back in March 2015, that the Western Australian health department had fast-tracked an antenatal Whooping Cough vaccine program, allegedly in response to the death of Hughes’ son Riley.

However, a document obtained through Freedom of Information, and provided to the author, clearly shows that the pregnancy program was instigated by WA Health doctor Paul Effler – not in response to Riley Hughes’ death on 17 March 2015 – but rather, on 13 March 2015, which was on or around the day Riley Hughes was first admitted to hospital.

The program was officially approved by Acting Director-General Bryant Stokes on 18 March 2015, the day after Riley Hughes died.

What then was the real rationale for fast-tracking the pregnancy Pertussis vaccine program, if not the death of Riley Hughes?

This important question must be answered by the Western Australian health department.  As taxpayers, we have the right to know.

Light for Riley campaign generated unprecedented hatred and division

None of us could have been prepared for the onslaught of hatred that flowed from the Light for Riley campaign.  For example, how could anyone forget Claire Harvey’s hit opinion piece in which she accused the unvaccinated of killing Riley Hughes.

By failing to publicly denounce  that vile opinion piece, both Catherine and Greg Hughes (father of Riley) tacitly endorsed Harvey’s unfounded accusations and use of Riley’s death to attack parents who hold concerns about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

Arguably, Harvey’s despicable opinion piece was actually incited by Greg Hughes himself.  A public post by Greg Hughes, two days before Riley’s death, set the climate for the vicious campaign which was to follow.

A (now private) post on Greg Hughes’ Facebook timeline showing his connection to Stop the Australian Vaccination Network

Australia is in dire need of an independent vaccine watchdog

Regardless of one’s views on the integrity of Catherine and Greg Hughes – my personal opinion being that they are nothing more than ‘useful idiots‘ who are being used by higher powers – our vaccine program desperately needs an independent body to watch over key decision-makers, at both the state and federal levels.

The Consumers Health Forum, a nominee of which sits on key vaccine committees, has failed to ‘keep the bastards honest’.  We are stuck in an endless cycle of orchestrated vaccine campaigns.   This needs to change, because vaccines are now being mandated for receipt of childcare subsidies and enrolment in childcare services in some states.

I propose that a nominee of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (AVN) or another vaccine choice organisation be appointed to all vaccination advisory bodies in an observer (not voting) role.

After all, what do our public health officials have to hide?