Commentary by Connie May, MHST
Launch of the new FASD Handbook resources from DEN in Tasmania
As a public relations volunteer for several One Generation Changes projects, one of my personal missions is to help prevent the population harms that stem from substance use, including smoking and alcohol, two of the largest threats to our community health and social well-being.
A One Generation Changes project is a community led project that aims to make a difference for disadvantaged children within THIS generation or the one immediately following; using a “pay it forward” type of volunteerism.
My interest in helping spread the word about FASD risks is three fold.
One: people close to me are dealing with the impacts of unintended alcohol exposure to children during pregnancy.
Two: I’m well aware of the strong drinking culture of our country as a population health researcher/writer and believe the incidence of FASD is far greater than most of us currently recognise or are willing to openly acknowledge, and that this means adequate supports are difficult to come by.
Three: If every person impacted by FASD has a social circle of influence of at least 100 people, and we can prevent FASD as much as possible and support those that are already impacted by the condition, then ultimately millions of people might be helped.
So when I was asked if I could take some photographs at the DEN’s launch in Tasmania’s Parliament (by Hon Michael Ferguson), I jumped at the chance.
What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was how emotionally moved I would be by the event.
Here’s why I was moved to tears filming the launch of The FASD Prevention Handbook on the 7th of September 2016.
Collaboration and Sharing
Firstly, I was moved by the beautiful sense of camaraderie and cooperation between the different groups that helped to bring this resource to fruition. The ambiance was so warm and inclusive that it highlighted to me, again, that a collaborative cross-sector approach is too often missing from other non-profit organisations and community support groups. BIG TICKS for warmth and inclusion to the DEN crew with Shirleyann Varney, and to the Hon Michael Ferguson, MP (Tasmanian Minister for Health, Information Technology and Innovation and Leader of Government Business in House of Assembly), and to the attendees and FASD movers and shakers including NOFASD educator Anne Heath, Dr Adrian Reynolds, Grant Herring and so many others I had the pleasure to talk with on the day.
Shirleyann Varney and Anne Heath
Acknowledgement & Women Centred Knowledge
It was also lovely to see that DEN made note of the people that were diligent in bringing the resource to fruition and acknowledge the support they had from NOFASD.
Awareness and Intent to Support Impacted Families
Alcohol intake, admittedly, is a popular past time and income source for many agencies. As part of our culture and economic system, it can be difficult for people to face that it has serious harms to our population. It takes even more guts to admit we need to take serious steps to acknowledge those harms and do something productive about preventing them and helping impacted families. But everyone who attended the launch clearly recognised the need, and were passionate about making a difference in sharing knowledge and resources to help.
The Tasmanian Minister of Health Clearly understands the Issues surrounding FASD and the need for more support
Often launches of new community resources are seen as an obligatory attendance function by most politicians. Not so for the launch of the FASD Handbook by the Hon Michael Ferguson, MP, Tasmania’s Minister of Health.
Ferguson spoke articulately and passionately about how moved he has been by the information he’s seen on FASD in the community, from the likes of DEN, FASD and media reports, which fortunately are increasing at exponential rates as our understanding – and community interest – grows. He also noted he was particularly moved by a Four Corners report Hidden Harm (By Deb Whitmont and Mary Fallon) which is available at this link: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2015/11/02/4341366.htm.
All of which goes to show you that it takes a community to raise a child, and a community to become aware and caring about FASD to raise a child that isn’t impacted by prenatal exposure to alcohol, by helping EVERYONE understand the safest options about drinking during pregnancy.
Which is, as we all know: NONE FOR NINE.
Many thanks to the wonderful DEN team and to NOFASD’s new Director, Louise Gray, and Educator, Anne Heath, for inviting me along to witness a milestone for Tasmania, for our Country as they help lead the way, and for people living with – or at risk of – Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
Congratulations Tasmania, DEN and Australia for a milestone year in raising awareness of FASD and putting more energy, funding and time into prevention and support measures.
Connie May, MHST
One Generation Changes