'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.

Comments

  1. Oh what a feeling

    I got a feeling after coming across your blog post. I have advocated for people living with Epilepsy and have spent many many hours over 6 years speaking to people who have a child who lives with Epilepsy and adults living with epilepsy.

    You spoke in such a way that you were advocating for those with Epilepsy but I must say you showed ignorance in your post regarding the whole purpose of the challenge.

    The fundraising side of it means nothing to those who have done the challenge. Who are mostly family and friends of those living with Epilepsy or people living with Epilepsy.

    The part that mattered to all of us is that it raised awareness firstly of epilepsy and secondly of the dangers of bathing alone. You stated in your blog post that the deaths occurred due to no supervision.

    Guess what that is what the challenge is about warning people of the risks of drowning.

    There were some great conversations early on that had people reminding others not to bath alone. It was encouraging and supportive.

    As an advocate I am sure you would appreciate how coming together to support each other for a common good is what it's all about and in the process making change at a grassroots level and if your lucky at a state and national level.

    Not sure if you are aware but our attention spans are getting shorter there are studies to prove it so something a bit off centre like the #epilepsyaustraliabubblebathchallenge has gotten people's attention (including Ricky Gervais).

    I wonder what your blog post was trying to achieve. Was it your own opinion after many conversations with people who disagree with the challenge or your own opinion with no consultation. Take some time to have a look at some of the pics.

    There is one of a little girl and her sibling who passed away about three weeks after the photo due to Dravet Syndrome. Her mother talked about how her daughter couldn't have a bath by herself. Her mother recognised the importance of raising awareness of epilepsy.

    More recently a mother who's daughter has a very rare form of epilepsy decided to use the first opportunity in 8 weeks for her daughter to have a bath as an opportunity to bring awareness to her daughters story and syndrome. The child had not had a proper bath in 8 weeks due to severe uncontrolled seizures that kept her bed bound.

    The many other stories of why people shared need to be read before making assumptions an organisation is doing it for financial gain. As an advocate you speak for many people such a shame you didn't do your research before being so presumptuous.

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