Drink Tank

FASD Conference: Time to learn, time to act

The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) are holding the Australasian Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Conference in Brisbane on 19-20 November 2013.

The conference aims to share knowledge about FASD and bring people together from around the region to exchange ideas, practice, research and policy discourse.  The conference will unite those who are passionate about this area of work and provide an environment to make new connections and partnerships.

The program focuses on the key areas of prevention; screening and diagnosis; community and practice; policy and practice; and support for those who are affected by FASD.  The event will also outline up to date research and surveillance information and policy implications for FASD in the region.

FASD is currently the leading preventable cause of non-genetic, intellectual disability in Australia.  Like many other disabilities, people who are born with FASD have the condition for life, and the implications are far-reaching.

For PHAA, progressing the FASD agenda also aligns with our broader organisational priorities in relation to achieving better outcomes for people and communities with complex needs.  The term ‘complex needs’ refers to people who have more than one problem on their plate.  For instance, people with mental health and/or alcohol and other drug problems, victims of prior abuse, people with disabilities and their carers, who may also have trouble accessing education and training, getting work and/or supporting themselves, or who may have come into contact with the criminal justice system due to behavioural problems.  It has long been acknowledged that people with complex needs often fall through the cracks in service delivery – between national and jurisdictional service delivery, between government and non-government services, and between services delivered by different portfolio agencies.

People don’t live their lives within portfolios, and those with complex needs in particular need help to negotiate their way through the maze of available services.  Showcasing successful collaborative efforts in service delivery, with a view to informing whole-of-government approaches to policy and program development, are important priorities in improving policy and program approaches to complex needs.  These issues obviously resonate with families, communities and organisations with an interest in FASD, and the FASD agenda is closely aligned to broader priorities for policy and programs addressing complex needs.

We are calling on like-minded people and organisations to join us at this critical juncture to harness the opportunity to drive meaningful change.

The Australasian Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Conference is being held by PHAA and FARE in association with the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (NOFASD) Australia, the Russell Family Fetal Alcohol Disorders Association (RFFADA), Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, University of Sydney, Alcohol HealthWatch New Zealand and the University of Queensland.  We hope that many Drink Tank readers are able to join us at the conference and we look forward to working with many of you in progressing an agenda for change well beyond the event.

 

Help create a dialogue online before the event to generate more interest and discussion about FASD issues on Twitter. The handle for the event is @FASD2013 and use #FASD2013.

 

Melanie Walker

Melanie Walker

Melanie Walker is Acting CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia.  She is Vice President of Hepatitis Australia and President of the ACT Hepatitis Resource Centre.  She is also currently a Panel Member for the Alcohol Advertising Review Board and a member of the Directions ACT Clinical Reference Committee.

1 comment

  • Good work. It’s basic common sense that alcohol, being a poison, will harm a foetus and accordingly the safest, simplest and smartest option is not to drink alcohol at all.

    Society as a whole needs to be more sensitive to the need to prevent FASD and to show more insight in relation to women who might be pregnant or breastfeeding.

    For example, it’s obvious that a woman who already has a young child or children could be pregnant with another, or breastfeeding. They don’t need to be offered alcohol – if they know they’re not pregnant and won’t be breastfeeding anytime soon they can easily ask for a drink if they want one.

    FASD is yet one more reason why society needs to move away from the tendency to celebrate or mark special occasions or successes by consumption of alcohol. Similarly employers need to ensure that peer-group pressure to drink alcohol at work-related social events is minimised – and really the most ethical approach would be to not permit alcohol at work events.

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