On my website I have invited medical practitioners and other health professionals to debate the information that I am providing on Australia’s vaccination policies. John Cunningham decided to take up this offer in February/March 2014. He is a leader of the Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN) lobby group and a medical practitioner. When responding to my request he chose to send his opinions in unsolicited emails to members of the public, including UOW academics involved with my research and journalists. This occurred whilst I was a student at the University of Wollongong (UOW).
Here are the corrections to the personal opinions and misinformation provided by John Cunningham in unsolicited emails to members of the public and UOW academics in 2014.
Further, in July 2014 John Cunningham, made a complaint to the University of Wollongong about my research project completed in 2006. This research project was a critique of the Australian government’s whooping cough policy and the research was awarded a high distinction by UOW academics in 2006. Yet, in July 2014, John Cunningham, made allegations of academic misconduct about this research. This was 8 years after the coursework was completed and the degree awarded. An investigation was implemented even though UOW academics found no evidence of academic misconduct and concluded that this was an unwarranted investigation. When university investigation guidelines are not followed unwarranted investigations can occur.
In November 2014, the ABC provided anonymity to ‘two medical experts’ who provided information about UOW’s investigation even though the university’s procedures were confidential and the investigation had not been completed. I received an apology from Judy Raper, the UOW Vice-Chancellor of Research for the unwarranted investigation and she stated that the university’s processes had been misused: “university processes are not a forum for academic debate”. The unfounded allegations made by an organised lobby group in a confidential investigation were published in the mainstream Australian media even though there was no evidence to support the allegations and the investigation was incomplete at the time. This research project on whooping cough vaccine is published unchanged on my website ‘An Analysis of the Australian Federal Government’s Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Policy’ and it received a high distinction from UOW academics in 2006.
Professional lobby groups have used the mainstream media and university processes to misinform the public with their personal opinions about my research and my reputation has not been protected. UOW would not put out a media release to correct the public record and the ABC would not remove the misinformation when I requested that my name and research should be cleared of this smear campaign. Here is the letter I wrote to the ABC and the ABC added a correction to the article that stated:
In May 2015 an investigation by the University of Wollongong Student Conduct Committee found Dr Wilyman not guilty of academic misconduct. The Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Judy Raper stated that the investigation should not have happened and that “academic misconduct processes are not a forum for academic debate”.
If students reputations are not protected when they attend universities to get endorsement for their academic research and if universities are not obliged to correct the public record when false and misleading information is provided then I believe they cannot fulfil their role in maintaining academic integrity in public debates of scientific issues.
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- JUDY WILYMAN