Pro-immunisation

One of the defaced billboards. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d416382
One of the defaced billboards. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d416382

The Immunisation Alliance of WA, based in Success, erected two billboards along South Terrace to support their message that parents could live an alternative lifestyle while still vaccinating their children, using six local families as case studies.

But both billboards have been defaced with the website for the Australian Vaccination Network, a group that has been vocal in its opposition to immunisation and support of those who choose not to do so.

Coolbellup mother Katie Attwell, whose family are one of the six case studies and who also drove the campaign, said she was disappointed at the vandalism.

‘It’s really disappointing that elements of our community cannot tolerate efforts to start a different conversation,’ she said.

‘Anti-vaxers are already well-organised and the anti-vax voice gets a strong airing in my circles, but parents have organised around this issue in an effort to promote a different discourse and to let others know that not everyone in Freo is an anti-vaxer.’

Australian Vaccination Network president Greg Beattie said the I immunise campaigners had said they wanted a discussion about the issue and that they should listen to the other side of the coin.

‘What they don’t realise is that defacing the sign is part of the discussion; the I immunise people need to listen to it,’ he said.

‘There needs to be plenty of vigorous discussion on this issue.

‘We would never condone that (graffiti) activity, but we do consider it was inevitable.’

Immunisation Alliance of WA project officer Deanne Brescacin said the billboards were crucial to the campaign because of their location after Fremantle was announced as one of the worst areas in the country for vaccination percentages in children.

‘We have received a few comments from anti-vaxers and while we are unlikely to change the minds of staunch anti-vaxers, we are open to respectful conversations,’ she said.

‘However, we are primarily interested in those members of the community who are yet to make a decision.’