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National FASD Action Plan

NOFASD Australia had campaigned for a National FASD Plan in Australia for over 14 years. It took Sue Miers and a small group of volunteers a considerable length of time to convince governments to listen to their concerns and take the issue of FASD seriously. In August 2013, NOFASD Australia welcomed the release of the very first Commonwealth FASD Action Plan (2013-14 to 2016-2017) and looked forward to working with the Federal Government to further develop the detail of the plan. Then in June 2014, the current government released their National Strategy to Tackle Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder allocating $9.2million “to  tackle what is the highest incidence of FASD or FAS harm in the world in some Australian communities. Babies whose mothers consume alcohol when they are pregnant may be born with a range of irreversible disabilities including cognitive impairment, physical, behavioural and learning disabilities,” advised Federal Member for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone in a media release. 

Below is a timeline of more recent events and activities which have culminated in the development of a national FASD Action Plan.

August 2008 The Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy FASD Working Group, the Department of Health and Ageing and Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia held a FASD Workshop in Adelaide. The goal of the workshop was to identify potential future directions and strategies for responding to alcohol use in pregnancy.

August 2009Monograph submitted to the Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs Working Party on Fetal AlcoholSpectrum Disorders (updated version released in 2012).

March 2010Alcohol in Pregnancy: What questions should we be asking?, Report to the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, led by Associate Professor Jane Halliday and Professor Elizabeth Elliott.

August 2010 – May 2012Project to develop a diagnostic instrument for FASD in Australia. The project was funded by the federal Department of Health and Ageing and led by Winthrop Research Professor Carol Bower from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research and Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM from the University of Sydney. An Australian FASD Collaboration was formed to conduct the project, including health professionals, researchers, consumer and community members. NOFASD Australia is represented on the Collaboration by Ms Sue Miers. Funding under the recently announced Commonwealth FASD Action Plan will enable testing of the diagnostic tool and the development of clinical guidelines for its use.

November 2011The Commonwealth Government announced a national inquiry into the prevention, diagnosis and management of FASD, to be conducted by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs. The terms of reference of the inquiry included prevention strategies, intervention needs and management issues;

September 2012The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) released The Australian Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Action Plan 2013-2016. The Plan was facilitated and developed by FARE and was supported by the collaboration and involvement of 33 leading Australian FASD experts including researchers, doctors, carers, communities and families, including NOFASD Australia. The plan was fully costed at $37 million and addressed five priority areas:

  • Increase community awareness of FASD and prevent prenatal exposure to alcohol
  • Improve diagnostic capacity for FASD in Australia
  • Enable people with FASD to achieve their full potential
  • Improve data collection to understand the extent of FASD in Australia
  • Close the gap on the higher prevalence of FASD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples


To coincide with the launch of the Action Plan, representatives from NOFASD Australia joined FARE and other FASD experts for a ‘Day of Action’ at Parliament House, Canberra, meeting with over 60 federal government politicians to talk about the issue of FASD.

20 September 2012Government of Western Australia Education and Health Standing Committee released its report Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: The Invisible Disability

29 November 2012Final report of the national FASD Inquiry tabled in parliament, FASD: The Hidden Harm – Inquiry into the Prevention, Diagnosis and Management of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

June 2013NOFASD Australia invited to attend a Round Table to provide input into the development of a Commonwealth FASD Action Plan. NOFASD Australia was one of four organisations represented to talk to a range of departmental representatives.

August 2013The Commonwealth Government responded to the FASD: The Hidden Harm report by announcing $20 million over four years for a national FASD Action Plan, Responding to the Impact of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Australia – A Commonwealth Action Plan’2013-14 to 2016-2017. The Commonwealth Action Plan contains 5 key action areas:

  • Enhancing efforts to prevent FASD in the community - $5 million
  • Secondary prevention targeting women with alcohol dependency - $4.8 million
  • Better diagnosis and management of FASD - $0.5 million
  • Targeted measures supporting prevention and management of FASD within Indigenous communities and families in areas of social disadvantage - $5.9 million
  • National coordination, research and workforce support - $4.0 million

Click here to read the National FASD Action Plan

June 2014Current Government FASD Action Plan launched 25th June 2014 by Minister Nash.  Click here to read the media release

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