The Commonwealth Government launched its latest Strategic Action Plan and announced a commitment of $7.2 million in funding to tackle FASD in Australia at the 2nd Australasian FASD Conference on Wednesday. Minister Greg Hunt made the announcement in a video address followed by a speech by Department of Health Assistant Secretary David Laffan, who spoke on behalf of the Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt AM.
Mr Laffan described FASD as a key project of the Ministers and outlined the three key aims of the Strategic Action Plan:
- Reduce the prevalence of FASD
- Reduce the associated impact of FASD
- Improve the quality of life for people living with FASD
The strategic action plan seeks to deliver on these aims by taking action across four national priorities:
- Screening and diagnosis
- Support and management
- Priority groups and populations at increased risk
Minister Ken Wyatt said the Government’s approach to FASD is to invest in activities which have been shown to be effective. The new funding of $7.2 million will be available from July 1st 2019, and has been broadly allocated to the following areas:
- $1.47 million for prevention-related activities, including new consumer resources and general awareness activities, and support for National FASD Awareness Day, translation and promotion of alcohol consumption guidelines and point of sale promotion activities.
- $1.2 million for new screening and diagnosis activities, which will include reviewing existing tools and guides and developing new tools and referral pathways to assist professionals in non-health settings.
- $1.2 million for management and support activities including tailored resources for people working in educational, justice and policing sectors.
- $1.27 million for priority group activities including cultural adaptation of best practice resources that meet local needs.
- $1.55 million to continue some of the existing activities which have been demonstrated as effective.
The Strategic Action Plan also establishes a National FASD Advisory Group who will report on the progress being made against the aims of the Action Plan and identify emerging issues and gaps to ensure the strategic action plan remains current and effective.
Professor Elizabeth Elliott said that Australia is “unique among other countries in that we now have a national register, a national clinical group, a national hub for research, and a national advocacy group in NOFASD”.
The National FASD Strategic Action Plan 2018–2028 can be viewed here.
To read more blogs from NOFASD Australia click here.
Will this screening be available to adults? As I am sure there are a number of young adults who are living with FASD every day and struggling.
Instead of incarceration, how about rehabilitation or therapy… that’s what they really need.
Not placing them in jail, where they don’t have the mental capacity to understand, let alone learn from a punishment that isn’t fitting of a disability.
If easier access it to become available to adults, is there going to be more than one facility? And where will you advertise this screening?
This is a great initiative and quite misunderstood or unknown. Educating the community is going to be an important aspect of success.
We agree that education and awareness across Australia is essential. We also agree that more diagnostic clinics are needed with services for adults and children.
NOFASD Australia has not yet received specific information on where the government funding will be allocated. We share the information that we receive through blogs, the latest news page on our website, social media (follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn) and our monthly newsletter. You can subscribe to our newsletter here.
We will continue to advocate for increased services across Australia, and encourage you to contact your local MP and/or the Minister for Health to add your voice.
If you have questions about the services available in your local area we encourage you to call the NOFASD hotline on 1800 860 613.
This is most disheartening to see how little money is being given to an immense problem. It demonstrates profoundly the low priority being shown to the nation’s greatest health problem. As more children are placed in out of home care which requires between $3-4 billion annually and then to add to that the costs relating to youth justice, this miniscule allocation of funds beggars belief.
I am a consultant to schools assisting students, teachers, education assistants and administrators to work more effectively with young people who present with behavioural and engagement needs.
The more I work with young people and their educators, the more I see students exhibiting symptoms of FASD, and their schools struggling to cope with their behaviour.
The research indicates that FASD is a life-long condition and can severely impact on a person’s life socially, emotionally and academically – leading to a myriad of issues throughout their lives.
I understand only a small percentage of possible FASD cases are currently being supported by the NDIS scheme, and that diagnosis is an extremely complicated process.
Even with NDIS assistance, there appears to be a lack of support for these young people in an educational setting in regards to funding allocation for assistance – one of the areas of early intervention that would provide life-long benefits for these young people.
Has there been any progress in this situation?
If not, who would be the best agencies to enquire about if/when this assistance might be available? So far, my questions appear to go unanswered..
Neil Hodgkinson – School of Special Education Needs: Behaviour & Engagement
Thank you for your comment and for the work you are doing to support young people living with FASD and other difficulties in the education system. You are absolutely right that FASD is lifelong and that early intervention and support can make a huge difference to the long-term outcomes for an individual. Accessing diagnosis and NDIS funding continues to be a challenge but there is support available to help people navigate these systems. I recommend you contact NOFASD Australia to discuss the specific situations of the students you are working with. Our helpline number is 1800 860 613 or you can send us an email here.
If you haven’t already seen it, the Marulu FASD Strategy recently launched their new book Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and complex trauma: A resource for educators. It was published by the Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre and can be downloaded here. Also, South Australia’s Department of Education has a comprehensive webpage on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. You can read more about this here.