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C is for Canberra, R is for Rally, V is for Vaccine

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On Sunday 15th of September a Vaccination Conference was held in Canberra. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt and Shadow Health Minister Chris Bowen were invited to attend but unfortunately both had prior commitments.

The conference featured speeches by Michael O Neill, Marelle Burnam Burnam, Dr Judy Wilyman, Taylor Winterstein, Tristan Wells and Allona Lahn. The conference was sold out and the packed audience thoroughly enjoyed the presentations and the Q and A session.

This built up momentum nicely for the Health Rights Rally that was held outside Parliament House the next day. A ‘V is for Vaccine’ protest was planned (the movement started by Josh Coleman in the USA) for the rally and there was a planned photography session for 9 a.m. in front of Parliament House.

Early on the morning of the rally we were informed we would have to be there early for photos as a VIP, the Prime Minister of Fiji, was arriving at Parliament. When we arrived at Parliament House there were cannons set up, and security everywhere, ready for the special arrival.There were marching bands and lots of pomp and ceremony.

Photographs were managed to be taken before the area was cleared for the cannons to be fired. Please visit to our new Gallery page to see the photos, as well as speeches from the rally.

Canberra rally everyone

Ironically there was another group of protestors there that morning as well. It was a group of doctors protesting climate change. We were on the same page with them about caring about our children and the future so a few people went and conversed with the group.

Some of them were on board with the fight for basic health freedoms, some were not. At any rate they knew what our group was there for. Allona Lahn had an interesting dialogue with some of the group members.

By this stage the official VIP welcome had finished so the rally was able to begin in earnest. At its peak there were about 150 rally participants. Many of them were mums and dads with their young children. There were so many beautiful babies!

There were several powerful speeches given (please see our Gallery) before the group moved around to the roadside in front of Parliament House and began chanting towards Parliament House. The incredible Tay Winterstein (below) lead the chanting which included “My body, My choice”, “My child, my choice”, “This is human rights, we will not comply”, “No Jab No Pay No Way” and “Vaccines can cause injury and death”.

Taylor Winterstein parliament really

A federal police officer approached the group and said the megaphone could not be pointed towards Parliament House. The megaphone had to be pointed towards the sky. Apparently those in Parliament House didn’t want to hear what we had to say.

Afterwards the rally continued with some more speeches and then there was time for networking and mingling to discuss the day’s events. It was wonderful to meet so many amazing people. Never doubt that this movement is strong and powerful, because it certainly is.

Most people left after the rally but a few stayed on and went into Parliament House for a visit. Security would not allow through any shirts with slogans they deemed inappropriate. Anyone wearing an “Ask me why I don’t vaccinate shirt” had to cover up with a jacket, or put their shirt on inside out. No jab No Pay No way shirts were also not allowed.

The Be Brave shirts were acceptable. Once inside Parliament House, some group members decided to go and watch the lower house sitting.

Despite having VIP tickets which should have allowed fast service, they were made to wait until everyone else was processed. Then they were taken to a soundproof room and had a security-guard escort. They were told by security that they thought they were there to disrupt proceedings. Security knew who every member of our group was and were very attentive the whole time we were there.

Thoughts

My own thoughts on Canberra are that the conference and rally were a raging success. The energy surrounding both events was amazing. The rally day could not have been better. The weather was perfect and the wind was blowing exactly the right direction to carry our chanting straight to Parliament. It was an honour to meet so many empowered families willing to stand up and fight for our basic human rights.

I found Parliament House itself rather awful to be honest. It felt like at every turn we were prevented from having anything to do with the people that are supposed to represent us, and ensure our health and well being. We couldn’t point our megaphone towards them, we had to sit in soundproof rooms, lest they hear our voices. I really felt the Canberra bubble. It feels like our elected officials truly are insulated from the results of the policies they enact.

There were some political meetings held the next day. My takeaway from that was there are many people in Parliament who do share our concerns about vaccination policy in this country. Unfortunately they know that voicing such concerns is political suicide. They have to be very careful how they broach the subject or they will be ruthlessly attacked, especially by the media.

For us to see change on the political landscape, we need to see enough change in public opinion. That is our mission, and we need to accept it. I know we keep saying it ad nauseam, but really, speak up. If you are concerned about your health rights in this country you need to be heard NOW.

It is incredibly empowering to stand up and have your say. With Vaccine Injury Awareness month rapidly approaching I urge everyone to think about what actions they plan to take.

Overall, Canberra was an incredible experience and I think we definitely need to rally there again sometime next year. It will be bigger and better than ever. One way or the other, we will be heard. Be Brave.

~ Aneeta Hafemeister

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