Offensive vans to de-register

By Senior Constable Mick EMERY

Imagine, for a moment, that you are the proud mum of a young child who is just learning to read…Your nights of reading to your child in bed are reinforced during a drive through town as your little angel sits in the back – sounding out the names of shops like “baker” and “butcher” or even attempting the names of street signs.

Anything that can be read is attempted by your child and lovingly corrected by you as you proudly pull up at the new park – beaming as junior starts an innocent, child-like conversation with another child.

You’re about to start a mature conversation of your own with another parent when – in a louder than normal voice – your child sings out “mummy, what’s a *#!* ?”

The smile freezes on your face as you quickly look around at all the other parents – yep, they all heard it too. And, if they didn’t hear it the first time, junior makes sure of it the second time in an even louder voice: “mum – what’s a *#!*?”

You look at junior and see immediately where the question has come from: a backpacker van has stopped near the park, and your child – now along with every other child – is looking intently at the mural painted on the side, and trying to make sense of the words…(which includes numerous references and imagery of a sexual nature).

Backpacker vans like this one are a common sight in Rainbow Beach – I’m sure most of you reading this would have your own recollection of a slogan that was ‘a bit off’ (at best) or some that are outright degrading or offensive to at least one sector of the community.

It’s easy to see how children, in particular, could be confronted with concepts beyond their level of development. Most parents are happy to discuss ‘age appropriate’ matters of a sexual nature with their children as they develop – but this kind of advertising has no regard for the wishes of the parent (let alone any regard for the child).

Aside from exposing children to inappropriate concepts, some of the other slogans are offensive and degrading towards women; some are racist; and some encourage violence.

If you see a slogan that you find offensive – now there’s something you can do! (Apart from having awkward conversations with your kids at the park).

New legislation provides for the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) to ‘de-register’ a vehicle if it carries offensive advertising. TMR relies on members of the public to initiate the process, by first submitting an online complaint to the Advertising Standards Bureau. This can be done at

With your help, backpacker vans advertising sexually explicit or violent messages will no longer be a common sight in Rainbow Beach – and there’ll be no more awkward conversations with junior at the park!

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