Fremantle contains a number of families who practice what might be regarded as alternative parenting. It is not unusual to see a mother breastfeeding a toddler. Many parents wear their babies and use cloth nappies. These practices are in keeping with Fremantle’s reputation for being clean, green and forward-thinking.
Parents within this community seek to make informed and ethical decisions regarding their children and lifestyles. However, concerns, scepticism and outright opposition to vaccines can be pervasive, and are spread through shared social networks in which they can appear the norm.
When parents elect not to immunise their children, this affects those around them who may become vulnerable to disease due to insufficient herd immunity. At risk are newborn babies too young to be immunised, and individuals whose immune systems are compromised by disease or chemotherapy.
The “I Immunise” campaign was formulated by a member of this community, and addresses parents who identify with natural birthing, breastfeeding and healthy living.
The series of six posters feature champions from within the community who proclaim their support for immunisation. The posters are being displayed in midwifery and birthing services, child health clinics and community organisations. They will also feature on billboards and signs around Fremantle in late January and February.
The “I Immunise” website tells the parents’ stories of why they have chosen to immunise. The “I Immunise” facebook can be viewed at www.facebook.com/i.immunise
Campaign founder Katie Attwell, says, “We want to introduce the idea that immunisation is an ethical practice that protects other people.”
Campaign participant Leela James, a long-time Fremantle resident, was proud to breastfeed her youngest son Kash for her poster, which is also displayed on a billboard on South Terrace and Little Lefroy Road.
The “I Immunise” campaign was devised by Immunisation Alliance member and long-time Fremantle local and activist, Katie Attwell. Katie was concerned for the well-being of her (then) baby son in her beloved community with its low vaccination rates. She wanted to empower others to speak up in favour of immunisation, in the hope of increasing herd immunity. Consulting on the campaign team were Immunisation Alliance members Michael Wise, university professor and father of a primary-schooler, and Jane Jones, a health worker and mother / foster mother. Photographs were taken by Lisa of Lilypad Photography, with graphic design by Sandie at Chocolate Design. The website was designed by Immunisation Alliance Project Officer Sarah Parker.
The Immunisation Alliance WA gratefully acknowledges the Health Department of WA for providing us with the funds to run our campaign. We are also incredibly grateful to our wonderful spokespeople for sharing their stories and motivations, and for supporting the health and well-being of others.
We designed and carried out a research project to ensure this campaign could communicate most effectively to parents making decisions about immunisation. This research was funded by a Vaxigrant from Sanofi, and with additional support from Professor Colleen Fisher (UWA), and organisational psychologist, Immunisation Alliance member and mum-of-two, Melanie Freeman. Thank you very much to the parents who shared their views, stories and feedback about the campaign as part of this research. If you only read one book about immunisation, read this:
The “I Immunise” campaign is run by the Immunisation Alliance WA, a not-for-profit health promotion charity. Those seeking more information can contact 0421 925 775 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Immunisation Alliance of WA can be contacted at email@example.com or www.immunisationalliance.org.au, and the I immunise campaign is brought to you by the Immunisation Alliance of WA. We have many more useful links on our webpage which can be viewed here.
I immunise In the News!
720 ABC interview with Katie
The Conversation – Vaccinations are a vital part of the ethical ‘alternatve’ livestyles
6PR interviewed Katie Atwell 28/01/2014