SIDS Charity Deregistered by Regulator
8 April 2015 at 2:43 pm
A Brisbane-based charity promoting alternative causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and linked to the controversial anti-vaccine lobby, has been deregistered by the national charity regulator.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has revoked the registration of Get Rid of SIDS Project Inc following a review into the organisation’s operations and activities describing the charity as “not complying with the Act”.
The charity was established by Queensland health activist Stephanie Messenger, who is also associated with the anti-vaccine organisation, Australian Vaccine-skeptics Network (AVN) and was listed as an organiser of the cancelled anti-vaccine seminar which featured US fundamentalist Sherri Tenpenny as the keynote speaker.
The charity’s purpose on the ACNC register was described as “promoting the prevention or control of diseases in humans”.
Messenger has previously caused public controversy over a children’s picture-book she wrote two years ago called Melanie’s Marvellous Measles, which she said was to “educate children on the benefits of having measles”.
The ACNC said the charity is an association incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 (Qld) which had Deductible Gift Recipient status as well as tax concessions since it was established in 2010, which have now been cancelled.
However the charity founder, Stephanie Messenger told Pro Bono Australia News that “what has happened is nothing more than a vendetta against me personally”.
“(I have) no interest in the negativity.Our work into SIDS research will continue regardless,” she said.
In documents logged with the ACNC, the Get Rid of SIDS Project (GRoS) received annual revenue of less than $250,000 and its main purpose was to fund research into an alternative cause of SIDS known as the Toxic Gas Theory, based on the work of New Zealand toxicologist Dr Sprott.
The charity included in its 2013 AIS statement to the ACNC that “new volunteers have joined our organisation and we expect to get our sleep study completed, or in the very least, much advanced, this year.” The charity sought public donations to help fund the research.
The GRoS charity’s website states; “Millions and millions of dollars have gone into researching SIDS over the last couple of decades with no result except supposed identification of some risk factors, while some research has been ignored or fobbed off without thorough testing. The Toxic Gas Theory is one example of this.”
Acting ACNC Commissioner David Locke said the deregistration decision is effective from 01 April 2015 and the charity has 28 days to lodge an objection to this decision.
“The ACNC is committed to protecting public trust and confidence in the sector, which includes revoking the charity status of organisations which are not operating in accordance with the ACNC Act and Regulations,” Locke said.
“All charities have to be established for charitable purpose and for the benefit of the public. Where concerns are raised with the ACNC about a charity’s operations, we take these seriously and look into all of the circumstances. We will act firmly and quickly where we believe organisations are not entitled to ongoing charity registration.
“The ACNC has made a decision to revoke Get Rid of Sids Project’s registration as a charity under 35-10 (1) (a) of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (ACNC Act),” Locke said. According to the Act this includes providing false and misleading information.
The ACNC said it is prevented by secrecy provisions in the ACNC Act from disclosing the full details of any case.
Another 6,000 charities could face the same fate as Get Rid of SIDS Project Inc for failing to report to the ACNC for two consecutive years.
A spokesperson from the ACNC said the regulator had already written to thousands of charities warning them of the possible loss of their status.
"Yesterday we issued notices to approximately 3,000 charities informing them that they will lose their charity status for failing to complete their reporting for two consecutive years," the spokesperson said.
"The charities have 28 days to respond to the notice. Failure to do [so] will result in revocation of charity status as at 11 May 2015. A further 3,000 charities will be issued with notices later in April."