Today (9 September) is International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day.
On this day, we all need to stop and think about what we can do to protect children from being born with FASD, to support women and families to stop drinking if they are planning to have a baby and during their pregnancy, and to help those who are living with this condition.
The Morrison Government strongly supports the fight against FASD. The prevention of lifelong harms to an unborn baby from exposure to alcohol during pregnancy is something that everyone should be committed to.
International FASD Awareness Day is on the ninth day of the ninth month of the year – a reminder to the world that during the nine months of pregnancy a woman should abstain from alcohol. But women should not do this alone, with growing evidence that partners who drink prior to conception can impact the baby too.
The level of physical and neurodevelopmental impairment of someone with FASD can vary greatly, but when a developing fetus is impacted by alcohol exposure, the impacts of FASD are for life. FASD symptoms can be physical, mental, behavioural and sensory.
Our Government is committed to not only preventing FASD but also better diagnosis, management and support for young people with FASD, their parents and carers.
We recently allocated $325,000 to the Monash Children’s Hospital to expand FASD diagnostic services in Victoria. The Government has also provided $75,000 to The Russell Family Fetal Alcohol Disorder Association to further its work to support families, parents and carers.
This funding is on top of $7.2 million I announced last year, along with a National Strategic Action Plan, to support FASD activities across a number of areas, including prevention, screening and diagnosis, and better informing schools, workplaces and communities.
Since a parliamentary inquiry in 2012 into the prevention, diagnosis and management of FASD, the Government has committed over $20m towards projects that raise awareness of FASD and the risks associated with drinking alcohol while pregnant.
The inquiry looked into and reported on developing a national approach to the prevention, intervention and management of FASD in Australia.
We now have this national approach set out in the National Strategic Action Plan, which identifies a series of priorities and opportunities to guide governments, service providers and communities.