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Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder action group

March 24, 2011

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) or Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the greatest cause of non-genetic permanent intellectual and physical disability in newborns in Australia. In fact, if you drink while pregnant you are running an enormous risk with your baby.  Nearly 60 percent of Australian women do drink alcohol during their pregnancy. Too many do not know the risks they take.

Yesterday, in a bipartisan approach, Members and Senators formed a new group with the aim of eliminating FAS and FASD from Australia. We are one of the few developed nations still not taking this problem seriously; a problem which affects young Australians right through their lives in very serious and debilitating ways. This group aims to ensure that in the future there are warnings on alcohol product labelling.

We need a national diagnostic tool for this condition, and this is under development. We need better education for practising medical professionals, service providers and particularly police and those who work in the judiciary. We need to assist and support pregnant women who have alcohol dependency and we need to learn from best practice overseas. Of course, we need to give FAS and FASD the status of recognised disabilities in Australia to facilitate better funding for the delivery of services, and to help families who are dealing with the victims of FAS or FASD and who struggle every day to make sure that their children have a decent life.



Janine Slinger

June 1, 2011 at 12:21 PM

I am so pleased to hear of some discussion about FASD, as I have a fifteen year old foster child who is significantly effected by fetal alcohol and have had huge problems accessing support and services for him over the years, and big concerns for his future. Australia needs to recognise this enormous issue, take action to prevent it through education and start diagnosing and servicing the children and adults already living with this disability.

Louella Polson

August 13, 2011 at 8:28 PM

Thank you for focusing on this urgent issue.
As manager of a volunteer based Not For Profit Community Services Centre, I am appalled that a client with FASD + mental illness + alcohol abuse has for years been denied help by NSW Govt Disability Services because he was 2 IQ points too high in spite of him meeting other diagnostic criteria for intellectual disability - especially deficiencies in social and adaptive skills.
That so many people like this man with FASD are therefore disqualified from accessing many services including Community Justice, and appropriate supported accommodation is inexcusable.
Even worse is the fact that like this man, hundreds of people continue to find themselves in gaol as 'de facto' institutions.
It is time for awareness, education and justice.

Anne Russell

September 28, 2012 at 10:40 AM

Hi Sharman
Thanks so much for championing FASD in Canberra. It was a great experience to attend the Parliamentarians for the Prevention of FASD meeting and it was a great day for the rffada when you agreed to be our Patron.
From the parents and carers living with FASD that we represent, there is a great deal that we owe you for bring FASD to the attention of Parliament House and also for being instrumental in getting an enquiry underway. We look forward to the recommendations.


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