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Misty Mountain Health Retreat loses ACNC charity registration

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The Australian Charities and Non-Profits Commission (ACNC) has officially stripped health promotion charity Misty Mountain Health Retreat Ltd of its charity registration, effective 23 March 2020. As a result of this revocation, Misty Mountain is now barred from accessing Commonwealth charity tax concessions.

“Generally, the approach we take is to provide guidance and focus on education. However, when charities do not comply with their obligations, or fail to demonstrate a commitment to good governance, we take a tougher approach. We have a duty to advise the community about organisations that fail to meet their regulatory obligation,” said ACNC Commissioner, the Hon Dr Gary Johns.

According to the ACNC act, Misty Mountains has 60 days to lodge an objection.

Despite announcing its decision to revoke the charity’s registration, the ACNC has not released the results of its investigation, nor raised the nature of the concerns raised due to provisions of the same law. But, the ACNC has been investigating complaints against Misty Mountains since 2019.

Charity under fire

According news site The Guardian, the ACNC was already investigating the activities of Misty Mountains-affiliated wellness coach Barbara O’Neill who had been found “giving potentially fatal health advice to vulnerable clients” since 2019

O’Neill also came under fire from Healthcare Complaints Commission after she told patients that “cancer was a fungus that could be cured with bicarbonate soda rather than through conventional medical treatment,” the article said. As a result, the HCC banned her from giving any medical services in any form, whether it be voluntary or paid, for life.

She is also the wife of Michael O’Neill, who serves as chairman of Misty Mountain Health Retreat Ltd. Michael is also the founder and president of the Informed Medical Options Party, previously known as the Involuntary Medication Objectors party.

According the same article, the ACNC was also investigating complaints that Misty Mountains was allegedly offering services that were outside its legal scope as a health promotion charity.

According to the ACNC website, a health promotion charity is an institution that primarily “promote the prevention or the control of diseases in human beings.” The ACNC lists activities such as raising public awareness of a disease, undertaking medical research, work to raise awareness of diseases as some of the ways that an organisation that can qualify to be a health promotion charity.

Instead, Misty Mountains appears to be effectively operating as a “wellness holiday resort,” one of the complaints said.

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