Breaking the taboo

June 1, 2017

Breaking the taboo

Some conversations can be hard to have, but when they have the potential to prevent a family from facing the unimaginable, they are worth listening to.

This month, Profile is celebrating the vibrant tapestry of amazing families that make up the Sunshine Coast. The ones who lead unique lifestyles and laugh in the face of the obstacles posed by modern society. The ones who refused to give up on their dream of being parents and instead built their own unique family. And the ones who have been dealt a difficult hand in life but together, are doing their best to overcome it.

But with Friday, 30 June marking the 20th anniversary of the first nationwide, signature Red Nose Day, this month it is also important to remember the families, like mine, who have experienced the unimaginable and will never quite be whole again. And while it might not be a happy or comfortable topic to discuss, it’s vital that we do.

I was catching up with a girlfriend recently when the topic of Red Nose Day came up after seeing the merchandise available at a store.

“I know it’s a fundraiser, but I have no idea what it’s for,” she told me.

“It’s to raise awareness and research money to combat SIDS, and support families who have experienced it,” I informed her.

“Oh, I think I’ve heard of SIDS – what’s it stand for again?” she replied.

While I was concerned by her lack of knowledge about the cause, I can’t say I was all that surprised. She wasn’t the first person I’d had this conversation with, and I doubt she’ll be the last – because even though those silly red noses are a fun way to grab the public’s attention, the message behind them is being lost, as Red Nose Day is no longer drawing in the figures and attention it used to.

In an age where medical funding for research is hotly contested and there are more and more charities out there competing for attention, it’s no wonder the message is getting lost among the static.”

Since forming in 1977, Red Nose (formerly known as SIDS & Kids) has raised $16.7 million, helping fund several scientific breakthroughs in discovering the cause of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and supporting thousands of grieving families through the most impossible of situations. But the ultimate factor attributed to the decreased numbers of SUDI (sudden unexpected death of infants) cases is Red Nose’s promotion of risk reduction campaigns, particularly their safe sleeping messages. Despite the number of SUDI cases being down by 80 per cent, the fact Red Nose Day is losing impact means these potentially life-saving messages are no longer getting across to the young families who need to hear them most.

In an age where medical funding for research is hotly contested and there are more and more charities competing for attention, it’s no wonder the message is getting lost among the static.

And I get it; every day we have news presenters telling us about more tragic causes we should donate to, or we are overloaded by stories on social media, so we start to tune it out. We can’t afford to stop to listen or donate to every cause.

But when it comes to something that presently can not be screened, treated or cured – something that can only tackled by minimising the risk and passing on this knowledge to others – we need to be all ears.

This is not about creating fear, and while it’s certainly a worthy cause, this isn’t about raising money. It’s about educating ourselves about the risks.

So to the millennials out there – don that red nose and rock that awareness-raising selfie. Just make sure you also take the time to truly learn about what you are supporting, and pass it on to others.


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