When I first met Alice in 2018 she told me about the work that her and Bek were doing at Parents’ Voice to represent members and protect our kids against the pull of big food. At the time I was looking for a student placement to complete over summer as part of my Bachelor of Communications at Deakin and was instantly enthralled by the idea of advocating for healthy living for the next generation.
Last year I undertook a unit designed to teach communications students about how corporations, government and the third sector relate to each other to effect policy and maintain a civil society. With this understanding, I was keen to effect policy to make things fairer for Australians who were at the mercy of big business. Working with Parents Voice has been the perfect opportunity.
Parents’ Voice was my introduction to the Public Health sector and I joined the team just in time to help out with the annual 2018 Fame and Shame awards. Fame and Shame introduced me to the very real pressures of being a parent and just how intentionally corporations are targeting children. On the day I photographed our speakers and documented the event for those who couldn’t be there!
Whilst we planning the event, we watched the list of advertisements that had received complaints from parents and I began to gain an understanding of the power imbalance at play. Big corporations like Coca Cola and McDonalds have endless resources and research that tells them that if they build brand affinity with children early on in their lives, they will buy and consume those products for life despite the proven negative impact on their health.
As a communications student, helping behind the scenes to prepare for our event gave me an invaluable media relations experience. Here are Parents Voice, Alice and Bek are a well-oiled machine who were ready to get the word out about who was targeting our kids. This year we managed to get coverage from all the commercial tv networks and I was lucky enough to accompany Alice to appear on Sunrise at Channel 7 and Studio 10 at Channel 10.
I grew up in rural Victoria in the town of Sale, known for its gas plant and RAAF base. As a young person I noticed the significant disadvantage in access to health services and education for people living in rural areas. Having access to education and health services is crucial for setting up young people to live healthy lives.
I hadn’t expected that completing an internship as a communications student could give me such a wealth of understanding in an area like Public Health, a field I had never considered working in. Since I started Alice and Bek have ruined Milo for me (which is 46% sugar!), I’ve learnt the ins and outs of our health star rating system and gained a greater appreciation for the difficult job parents have in raising healthy children.