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Social Media Campaign Looks to End Use Of the Word ‘Retard’


Monday, 26th February 2018 at 4:38 pm
Luke Michael
A new campaign has been launched in Western Australia urging people to stop using the word “retard”, with the word appearing on social media approximately every five seconds according to WA’s disabilities minister.


Monday, 26th February 2018
at 4:38 pm
Luke Michael


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Social Media Campaign Looks to End Use Of the Word ‘Retard’
Monday, 26th February 2018 at 4:38 pm

A new campaign has been launched in Western Australia urging people to stop using the word “retard”, with the word appearing on social media approximately every five seconds according to WA’s disabilities minister.

The R word campaign, launched last Wednesday, is run by not-for-profit disability support provider Avivo.

It has launched a website, containing videos of people with disability and their carers and families recounting their experiences with the word.

One of those featured is Casey, a 21 year old with autism.

“When you use the R word it makes me feel upset, a little angry and just makes me feel like I don’t belong… so just don’t use the word,” Casey said.

Another person featured is Tessa, whose brother Richard has a mild intellectual disability.

“When you use the R word, I want to tell you that it makes my brother, who has a disability, feel sad and unworthy,” Tessa said.

“I want him to feel empowered, happy and ready to charge in this world. I don’t need these outside elements impacting on his personality.”

WA’s Disability Services Minister Stephen Dawson helped launch the social media campaign to stop using the R word, which he noted appears on social media about every five seconds and is used frequently in everyday language.

“The R word is insulting and disrespectful – not just to people with disability but also to their families, friends and carers,” Dawson said.

“It’s never okay to use the R word – not in humour or frustration. People should stop and think about whether they would use the word on someone they love before they direct it towards somebody else.

“The R word campaign is a fantastic initiative by Avivo and I do hope it leads to more awareness, which in turn helps create a more accepting and inclusive society for people with disability.”

Dawson said that as part of the digital campaign, a selection of Twitter users who write the R word will be specifically targeted with a tweet including one of the 12 campaign videos featured on the website.

These users will then be directed to the website with information and education about the word’s use and meaning.

Lisa, mother to 8-year-old Archer – who has cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, epilepsy and a vision impairment – said using the R word made her “feel sick to [her] stomach”.

“I have a child with disabilities and it’s demeaning. It’s not a word that we want to hear and it shouldn’t be a word that anybody uses to describe somebody else,” Lisa said.

The campaign website said that the R word has been used more than 115,000 times on Twitter in the past seven days.


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.


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