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.
In this blog series, NOFASD Australia will be exploring the themes that arose across the submissions made to the inquiry. We begin our series by reviewing an overview of FASD, as provided in the NOFASD Australia submission. NOFASD Australia highlighted the need for individuals, communities, and institutions to be FASD informed.
People who are FASD informed understand that:
- FASD is a preventable disability
- Research has found that even small amounts of alcohol can harm your baby, so the safest option is not to consume any alcohol during pregnancy
- Communities must support women to plan alcohol-free pregnancies
- If women are drinking alcohol and engaging in sexual activity the best solution is to use contraception to prevent pregnancy
- FASD is present in every community where alcohol is present; FASD is not a problem faced only by Aboriginal Australian communities
- The Justice and Education systems must recognise the presence and impact of FASD on children and adults engaging with the institutions and respond with care and consideration
- 50% of pregnancies in Australia are unplanned, creating a high risk for prenatal alcohol exposure across the country
- 60% of Australian pregnancies are exposed to alcohol. Not all exposed pregnancies will result in the neurodevelopmental impairments which are diagnosed as FASD, but all pregnancies can be alcohol-free if the community works together to prevent prenatal alcohol exposure
- FASD is a largely invisible disability. To improve visibility, institutions must engage their workers in training to help them become FASD informed
- Aboriginal communities across Australia have led the way in community-based prevention strategies and other communities must follow their lead
- Become FASD informed by completing the free FASD training course online: https://www.nofasd.org.au/blog/foundations-course/
The final outcomes of the Senate inquiry are due to be released on 17th March 2021.
Stay tuned to the NOFASD blog for a summary of the findings.
You can view the complete NOFASD Australia submission (submission 40) here: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/FetalAlcoholSpectrumDi/Submissions