On my website I have invited medical practitioners and other health professionals to debate the researched 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 an orthopaedic surgeon – not an immunologist. When responding to my request he chose to use the email addresses of UOW academics in a way that could give credibility to the false and misleading information he was providing to journalists and the public in unsolicited emails. This occurred whilst I was a student at the University of Wollongong (UOW) and he had no connection to the university or these UOW academics at the time.
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 an unsupported 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 false 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 the allegations were not supported with evidence. UOW academics concluded this was an unwarranted investigation. When university investigation guidelines are not followed unwarranted investigations can occur.
However, in November 2014, the ABC provided anonymity to ‘two medical experts’ who provided information about UOW’s investigation into this complaint 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 John Cunningham (leader of an organised lobby group) in this confidential investigation at UOW 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 happened because the University of Wollongong allows members of the public (even known lobby group activists) to use the complaint procedures but they are not subjected to the confidentiality criteria because they are not members of the UOW community. The ABC journalists also allowed the ‘medical experts’, who provided the information to remain anonymous when the article was published in the media The sole purpose of this investigation was to harm my reputation and there is no protection for student’s reputations in UOW’s complaint procedures or journalists ethical guidelines.
My research project on the whooping cough vaccine is still 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 universities are not fulfilling their role in maintaining academic integrity in public debates of scientific issues.
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- JUDY WILYMAN