The ninth day, of the ninth month of the year is International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Day – when we are reminded that there is no known safe limit of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
Today is about acknowledging the lifelong physical, neurological, developmental and behavioural problems for children if their mother drinks alcohol while pregnant or breastfeeding.
These problems are proven and are collectively known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
The Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol state clearly that the safest option for women is not to drink alcohol if they are planning to become pregnant, are pregnant, or breastfeeding.
The Turnbull Government is committed to tackling this issue and is supporting a range of FASD prevention, support and diagnostic services through new grant funding under the Taking More Action on FASD initiative.
Four organisations have secured grants through the Taking More Action on FASD initiative – Patches, the Telethon Kids Institute, Griffith Enterprises and NOFASD Australia.
They will now roll out programs to assist people and their families affected by FASD and help prevent further incidences.
Patches will receive $2.7 million over three years to increase their FASD Diagnostic Services in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania to ensure people get diagnosed quickly and access the services they need promptly.
The Telethon Kids Institute will receive $2.5 million to deliver a FASD prevention, education and referral program in the Northern Territory and New South Wales. This means communities and health workers will have better access to information about the harms associated with drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
Griffith Enterprise, through Griffith University in Queensland, will receive funding of $1.3 million to help Queensland children with FASD earlier in life to get the ongoing care and services they will need over their lifetime.
NOFASD Australia will receive $1.5 million to provide telephone and online information support for all Australians, as well delivering education and training workshops to individuals, parents, carers, service providers, school communities and organisations.
Remaining funding provided under the Taking More Action on FASD initiative will be used to further increase access to diagnostic and support services, as well as support priorities identified in the Commonwealth’s new National FASD Strategy currently under development.
In addition to these grants, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) will provide at least $1.5 million in partnership projects to conduct targeted research for better prevention and screening of FASD in Indigenous communities.
The Government is also pleased to launch the National FASD Hub. This important resource, developed by the University of Sydney, provides access to comprehensive information for health professionals, parents and carers, other professionals (including for justice, education, child protection and disability services), researchers and policy makers.
The Hub can be accessed at the FASD Hub Australia website.
The Turnbull Government is committed to reducing alcohol-related harms for all Australians no matter where they live.
By preventing FASD in our community we will safeguard the health and wellbeing of the next generation of Australians, and beyond.
For more information about FASD and our actions for better health, visit the Department of Health's website.