The Loop - Nofasd Australia - Issue #4, December 2013

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NOFASD Australia
Issue #4, December 2013
Dear Members & Supporters,
Below are our key areas covered to keep you in The Loop,
This month in "The Loop"

As 2013 draws to a close, we have been reflecting upon what has been a busy year for NOFASD Australia.
Our achievements include our new name, new look and new website, creating a fresh resource for our network.  We’ve also joined the social media revolution and are now on Facebook.  Our first Strategic Plan 2013 – 2016 was developed and implemented, and we continue to provide an ongoing support service for individuals and families living with FASD.  NOFASD Australia has participated in a number of government consultation processes on a range of issues, presented at both national and international conferences, and delivered over 20 training and information sessions around the country reaching in excess of 400 participants.

Of particular interest to readers this month is the release of two important calls to action. The Call to Action from the recent Australasian FASD Conference is now available, as well as a Call to Action from the “Our Common Voice” event that brought together parents and carers from around the country to share their experiences of living with FASD. NOFASD Australia is now in the process of sharing the Call to Action from parents and carers with a range of government and non-government stakeholders.

In other news, you may recall that NOFASD Australia made a submission to the SA Government Social Development Committee Inquiry into the Sale and Consumption of Alcohol in May this year.  An interim report from the committee has been released. 

With the holiday season upon us, parents and carers may find the article on dealing with challenging behaviours over the festive season particularly useful.  You can find the link to the article within the ‘International News’ section.

Watch this space for some new NOFASD Australia initiatives in the New Year. In 2014, we will be launching Phase 1 of a national support network for parents and carers.  If you are interested, please contact us via our website

We will also be implementing a YouTube channel, and would appreciate anyone willing to share their stories about living with FASD contacting us.  We feel that the use of short film to tell the stories of people living with FASD or of those working with individuals and families living with FASD will be a really powerful advocacy and awareness raising tool. We also plan to make our presence known on Twitter in the new year.

Remember to ‘Like’ us on Facebook and share the link with your family and friends, as well as encourage your networks to subscribe to the NOFASD Australia Community so that they can receive this newsletter and other important updates.

We wish you all a happy and safe festive season.

Terri Baran
Administration Officer

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Of Special Interest

This month we provide an important follow-up to recent national and international events. 

Australasian Conference on FASD

  • The ‘Call to Action on FASD in Australasia’ is now available in the Policy and Advocacy section of our website.
  • A Call to Action from Australian and New Zealand Parents: “Our Common Voice”, resulting from the preconference event for parents and carers that preceded the Australasian FASD Conference, is also available on our website.
  • Video links are now available from the plenary sessions held on each day of the Australasian FASD Conference.
    • To listen to Plenary Session 1 (presentations by Professor Elizabeth Elliott and Judge Anthony Fitzgerald from the Auckland District Court and Youth Court), click here.
    • To listen to Plenary Session 2 (presentations by NOFASD Australia Chair, Ms Sue Miers, CEO, Marninwarntikura Fitzroy Womens Resource Centre, Ms June Oscar, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda), click here.
Canadian FASD Prevention and Legal Issues Conferences

Following NOFASD Australia's attendance at the First International Conference on Prevention of FASD and the Consensus Development Conference on Legal Issues in FASD, we have made the following documents available on our website:
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National News and Media

Justice System failing to deal with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

The Law Report, broadcast on ABC radio, features Damien Carrick speaking to Patrick McGee, June Oscar, Judge Tony Fitzgerald and Magistrate Catherine Crawford about the justice system seemingly unable to cope with the range of challenging behaviours that come along with FASD. Listen to the broadcast

Interim Report released by the South Australian Government Social Development Committee Inquiry into the Sale and Consumption of Alcohol

The South Australian Government Social Development Committee recently released an interim report as part of its inquiry into the sale and consumption of alcohol.  NOFASD Australia is disappointed that the report does not include any recommendations.  As readers may recall, NOFASD Australia made a submission to the inquiry in May 2013 and also provided oral evidence to the committee (not publically available).  Read the NOFASD Australia Submission.

National Alcohol Policy Scorecard 2013 Results Released

The first National Alcohol Policy Scorecard results have been released for 2013 by the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA).  The findings have shown that the majority of Australia’s jurisdictions are failing to implement evidence-based alcohol policies.  “Only three out of nine jurisdictions achieved an overall pass grade (50% or higher) on the alcohol policy scorecard,” states Professor Mike Daube, Co-Chair of the NAAA and Public Health Association of Australia alcohol spokesperson.

Opinion:  Let’s end stigma over pregnancy drinking

A recent study into the treatment needs of women who are pregnant and alcohol dependent found they are poorly served by health services, and fail to receive support.  For women who are alcohol-dependent, not consuming alcohol during pregnancy is not simply a matter of choice.  Alcohol dependence is a condition that requires significant supports, and for women who are pregnant and alcohol-dependent, these supports are simply not available.  Read more... 

Women and children at risk, says June Oscar

Respected Aboriginal advocate June Oscar has attacked a State Government funding agreement she believes will strip money for crisis care at Fitzroy Crossing's women's refuge putting vulnerable women and children at risk.  Read more... 

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International News and Media

New Asante Centre Resources on FASD and the Justice System

  • FASD and Communication Disability: Strategies for Youth in the Legal System. 
Individuals with FASD are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system and experience high rates of substance abuse and mental health problems.  Adolescence and early adulthood reflect particularly critical developmental periods.  These challenges are known, but there is a gap in knowledge with respect to our understanding of how best to meet the treatment needs of justice-involved individuals living with FASD.  Free curriculum download.
  • Promising Practices in Substance Abuse Treatment for Justice-Involved Youth with FASD Research Report. 
Communication for youth with FASD within the language-heavy legal system can be overwhelming.  From interviews through to court hearings and following probation orders, communication impairments create barriers and appropriate engagement can be challenging. Read more...

Prenatal exposure to alcohol disrupts brain circuitry

Prenatal exposure to alcohol severely disrupts major features of brain development that potentially lead to increased anxiety and poor motor function, conditions typical in humans with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), according to neuroscientists at the University of California, Riverside.  Read more...

A Case for a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women in Canada

In a report released 8 October 2013 – The Case for a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women in Canada – the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters & Transition Houses (the Network) outlines gaps between policies and legislation in Canada related to violence against women (VAW).  The full report can be downloaded here.

First Peoples Child & Family Review journal: Special Issue on FASD

The Fall 2013 issue of the First Peoples Child & Family Review focuses specifically on FASD.  The FPCFR is a Canadian journal dedicated to interdisciplinary research honouring the voices, perspectives and knowledge of First Peoples through research, critical analyses, stories, standpoints and media reviews.  
Several articles focus on FASD prevention and tackle topics such as developing community programs for pregnant and early parenting women who use alcohol and other substances that operate from an Indigenous knowledge framework, FASD prevention with women who have FASD themselves, and insights from workers in a home visitation program for women with a history of alcohol and drug abuse.  Read more...

Making life easier for parents/carers in the holidays

Some great ideas for dealing with challenging behaviour in the holiday season. Read more...

‘Don’t Drink’ Coasters Urge Pregnant Women to Avoid Alcohol

Before taking a sip of alcohol at nearly a dozen local bars and restaurants, San Diegans will be reminded of the dangers of mixing alcohol and pregnancy thanks to a beverage coaster campaign led by the new Southern California chapter of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (SoCal NOFAS), in partnership with University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.  Read more...

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Latest Research

Children with prenatal alcohol exposure at higher risk of developing problems with social skills
J.L. Quattlebaum & M.J. O’Connor, Child Neuropsychology: A Journal on Normal and Abnormal Development in Childhood and Adolescence, Volume 19, Issue 6, 2013
This study published in Child Neuropsychology found that drinking alcohol while pregnant means your child is more likely to develop issues with social skills as they grow older.  The results of the study indicate that children with prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) who do not have a global intellectual disability are at high risk of developing significant problems in a broad array of cognitive, emotional, behavioural and social domains. Read more...

Complex Health Needs in the Youth Justice System: A Survey of Community-Based and Custodial Offenders
SA Kinner, Ph.D, L Degenhardt, Ph.D, C Coffey, Ph.D, S Sawyer, M.D., S Hearps, P.G.Dip. Psyc., G Patton, M.D., Journal of Adolescent Health, Published 27 November 2013
A recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that many juvenile offenders come from profoundly disadvantaged backgrounds with family histories of incarceration, mental illness and substance abuse.  Improving health services within the juvenile justice system and the community could reduce the risk of repeat offences.  Read more...

Maternal alcohol consumption producing fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Quantity, frequency and timing of drinking
P.A. May, J Blankenship, A Marais, J.P. Goassage, W.O. Kalberg, B Joubert, M Cloete, R. Barnard, M De Vries, J Hasken, L.K. Robinson, C.M. Adnams, D Buckley, M Manning, C.D.H. Parry, H.E. Hoyme, B Tabachnick, S Seedat, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, pp 502-512 Volume 133, Issue 2, 1 December 2013
In order to better understand Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, more concise, accurate measures of maternal prenatal alcohol use are needed.  This study finds variables that combine quantity and frequency concepts that distinguish mothers of FASD children from normal controls.  It finds that there is a significant variation in alcohol consumption both within and between diagnostic groupings of mothers bearing children diagnosed within the FASD continuum, confirming that no safe level of alcohol consumption in pregnancy is known.  Read more...

Prevalence and Predictors of Maternal Alcohol Consumption in 2 Regions of Ukraine
C.D. Chambers, L. Yevtushok, N. Zyrnak-Zakutnya, Y. Korzhynskyy, L. Ostapchuk, D. Ackmedzhanova, P.H. Chan, R. Xu & W. Wertelecki, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, Published online 3 December 2013
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are thought to be a leading cause of developmental disabilities worldwide.  However, data are lacking on alcohol use among pregnant women in many countries. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and predictors of alcohol consumption by pregnant women in Ukraine.  The findings support the need for education/intervention in women of childbearing age in Ukraine and can help inform targeted interventions for women at risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy. The initiation of a standard screening protocol in pregnancy is a step in the right direction.  Read more...

Recognising FASD-Related Speech and Language Deficits in Internationally Adopted Children
T Elleseff, Adoption Advocate, No. 66, December 2013
Despite all the available research, very limited information exists for parents and professionals regarding how alcohol-related speech and language deficits manifest in children. This article provides an overview of how prenatal alcohol exposure affects social, communicative, and cognitive development.  Read more...

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Upcoming Events

For a full listing of upcoming events please visit our events page on our website.

5th Annual National Disability Summit 2014 – Melbourne: 17th - 18th March 2014

Examining the theme of “Ensuring Sustainable & Successful Disability Reform through the NDIS”, the National Disability Summit presents a diverse program showcasing insights and case studies from individuals across the entire Disability Sector to give a realistic and insightful overview of the NDIS rollout to date, and recommendations for moving forward successfully.

Key highlights this year include the State Launch site feedback sessions, led by key individuals who are leading the NDIS rollout on the ground within each of the sites, followed by an engaging panel discussion looking towards recommendations for refining the scheme. There will be plenty of debates and discussions for the audience to have their input, including focuses on open-access employment, supportive decision-making (focusing primarily on those with complex needs) and the realities of what choice and control looks like on the ground.

For further information and registration, click here. Early bird registrations close 31st January 2014.

Youth Alcohol and Other Drugs Practice Summit – Melbourne: 28th March 2014

A must for youth practitioners in health, community services and government working with highly vulnerable young people and at-risk young people, particularly those with substance abuse problems.  Youth AOD treatment and early intervention is an emerging and specialised field.  It is increasingly important that effective approaches are identified and documented.  The Summit provides an opportunity for practitioners to both contribute their knowledge and to develop their understanding and skills in a range of areas that are critical to affect youth AOD service delivery.

For further information and registration, click here.  Early bird registrations close 31st December 2013.

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NOFASD Australia is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Health System Capacity Development Fund.

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PO Box 206, Normanville , SA 5204

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