The Australian Government is committed to reducing the health risks from drinking alcohol and has made significant investment over several years in improving our understanding of FASD in Australia. The Australian Government is building upon the strong foundation of existing investment through committing over $20 million over four years towards a FASD Action Plan, commencing in 2013-14. The Government’s FASD Action Plan has been informed by the report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs Inquiry into FASD - FASD: The Hidden Harm released in November 2012, undertaken following a reference jointly by the Minister for Health and the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. The Action Plan is built upon a platform of five key priority areas which are outlined below. The detail of the Action Plan will be developed through consultation with key stakeholders and agencies.
Enhancing efforts to prevent FASD in the community - $5 millionThe Action Plan will promote consistent messages, through primary care providers about the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Specific actions will include utilising the Medicare Local Network to reduce and prevent substance misuse, including prevention of alcohol related harm, and continuing activities to promote and embed awareness of the risk of FASD.
Secondary prevention targeting women with alcohol dependency - $4.8 millionUnder the Action Plan practical support will be provided to women who are alcohol dependent to reduce and ultimately cease alcohol consumption. This will include building the knowledge and capability of non-government alcohol and drug services and primary care services to engage with and provide practical support to pregnant women who are alcohol dependent through compassionate and effective interventions.
Better diagnosis and management of FASD - $0.5 millionThe Action Plan will continue efforts to improve the diagnosis of FASD. This will support the finalisation of the FASD diagnostic tool which has been developed through Commonwealth funding. It will also enable the development of guidelines to support diagnosis and early management of FASD through close consultation and partnership with key professional colleges.
Targeted measures supporting prevention and management of FASD within Indigenous communities and families in areas of social disadvantage - $5.9 millionThe Action Plan will strengthen existing efforts to prevent FASD and reduce its impact on remote Indigenous communities, building on community supported alcohol management plans and other supply control measures currently in place, and seek opportunities to reduce the impact of FASD on families impacted by multiple disadvantage. Activities will include building the capacity of Regional Tackling Smoking and Healthy Lifestyle Teams and New Directions Mothers and Babies Services to prevent and reduce the impact of FASD. Tailored support through programs such as Communities for Children will target areas of disadvantage.
National coordination, research and workforce support - $4.0 millionThe Action Plan will inform and coordinate whole-of-government efforts to reduce the impact of FASD through information exchange and awareness-raising across relevant Government service providers. This will include establishment of a collaborative network of FASD experts to improve information exchange and to continue to build and promote the evidence base, including promotion of the results of the NHMRC targeted call for research on FASD in Indigenous communities.