On 9 September 2019, International FASD Awareness Day, an inquiry was referred to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee into effective approaches to prevention and diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and strategies for optimising life outcomes for people with FASD.
Individuals, organisations, and institutions across Australia made submissions which explored the breadth of the impact of FASD on Australian communities. NOFASD Australia reviewed all submissions and extracted a series of quotes which define themes that arose across the submissions.
In today’s blog, we explore the theme of the economic impact of FASD on Australian society.
- FASD is a preventable disability which results in lifelong difficulties including:
- ongoing physical and mental ill health
- disengagement from education and employment
- increased likelihood of entering the justice system
- These difficulties place a financial responsibility on public funding for assessment, intervention, and daily support;
- Australian researchers estimate FASD costs the public $AUD16 billion every year; clearly, FASD impacts every Australian;
- Prevalence rates of FASD in Australia are still unknown but a conservative estimate, based on results from countries with similar drinking cultures, assumes 2-5% of the Australian population are living with the lifelong disability;
- Long-term prevention strategies aimed at reducing drinking across all sectors of the community can reduce the economic responsibility placed on public services;
- Alcohol use is impacted by social pressures and expectations, cultural trends, and education about the harms of alcohol. Increased education aimed at changing Australia’s drinking culture will have extensive public health benefits that will improve the lives of all Australians; and
- Improve your knowledge or help someone else become FASD informed by completing the FREE FASD training course here.
The final report from the Senate inquiry was released on 17th March 2021.
Stay tuned to the NOFASD blogs for a summary of the findings.