Australian & New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) Conference 2022

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventConference/SymposiumAcademic


The challenges and dangers posed by the Covid pandemic have highlighted the value of immunisation programs, as a critical element of public health initiatives to reduce the risk of death or serious injury from preventable diseases. Clear, convincing and compelling communication about immunisation is critical in encouraging parents to immunise their children and address vaccine hesitance or fear of vaccination. Interestingly, pro-immunisation communication initiatives are not the sole province of governments or public health agencies.
Light for Riley is a Facebook site and private initiative of Catherine and Greg Hughes, the parents of Riley Hughes, who died from whooping cough in 2015 when he was four weeks old and too young to be immunised. Following Gee (2014), this study utilises discourse analysis to investigate a selection of posts from Light for Riley and offers insights into the arguments the Hughes family and other parents offer on the importance of immunisation. Gee’s (2014) Building tools and Building tasks were used to interrogate the data and reveal the importance of the identities of parenthood and motherhood to the Light for Riley discourse; expressed in a highly personalised way through individual stories and experiences shared by the Hughes family, other parents, mothers and interested parties who posted replies. Along with expressing empathy and sympathy for Riley’s death from a preventable disease, parents and interested parties shared intimate details of their own fears and losses. This study reveals the nature and power of the private and personal approach in advocating for immunisation in online communication spaces.
Period22 Nov 2022
Event typeConference
LocationWollongong, Australia, New South WalesShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Social media
  • Pro-immunisation messaging
  • Vaccine hesitance
  • Paracrisis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Immunisation

Sustainable Development Goals

  • SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being

Countries where activity occurred

  • Australia