Wednesday, August 12, 2015

'Oh, what a feeling...exploitation.'

"Every year, small children die in their driveways when their parents accidentally reverse over them in their SUVs. Take a photograph of yourself doing a Toyota jump in your driveway to raise awareness about the perils of childhood!"

"Too many toddlers and children drown every year. Last year, 30 children under fourteen drowned in pools, at beaches and at inland waterway locations. You can help raise awareness about the possibility of drowning by taking a photograph of yourself in your pool and posting it to Facebook!

Don’t you think they’re good campaign strategies? Why not?"

That’s right. They’re offensive. The idea of your healthy, live child posing in the same place that someone else’s dead child has been to ‘raise awareness’ is a horrible idea. Yet Epilepsy Australia has chosen to do just that, with their ‘epilepsy australia bubble bath challenge’ campaign. They’re saying that you can ‘raise awareness’ – and, of course, funds – by posting an image of yourself in a bathtub.

In 1998, 34 year old Alice McTye drowned in the bathtub after a mix-up with her medication and after being left unsupervised in care in an Adelaide facility. By 2000, another three young men in the A.C.T. had died, including Brett Ponting, a man who had experienced seizures in the past. In 2008, 18 year old Jack Sullivan drowned in a bathtub in respite care – not because he had epilepsy, but because he was not supervised in the bathtub by his support worker. The government-funded respite facility where he died had a string of complaints lodged against them and many agencies had shunned the facility because of its record.

People with disability need care and support, not offensive and demeaning campaigns that exploit us and seek to profit from our circumstance. It might make you feel good, posting an image of yourself surrounded by bubbles – you’ll be part of a trend, it won’t cost a cent, others will think you’re a good person. You’ll feel good about yourself. But think, just for a moment, about how Jack and Brett and Alice’s families will feel when seeing your ‘bathtub selfie’. And think, for a moment longer, how the charity you donate to chooses to portray the people they say they support.

Image description: A toddler is retrieving a ball from behind a reversing SUV. Superimposed on the image is a picture of a women doing the 'Toyota jump', her legs bent as she leaps into the air.