From Vancouver to Brisbane: FASD Conference 2013

Well hallelujah! It’s finally happening albeit over 20 years behind. The first conference in Australia dedicated to looking at how to bring about change to many Australian families that continue to suffer with FASD in silence.

A lot of the problems associated with FASD could have been alleviated if Australia had adopted similar alcohol warnings that the US, Canada and a range of European countries have had in place for over 20 years.

In 1994, the Aboriginal Drug & Alcohol Council (SA) Inc started producing health promotional resources trying to raise awareness about FASD. We experienced a lot of negativity from a range of people, organisations and medical professionals that there was no such thing. We encountered a lot of opposition but continued anyway.

In 2007, myself along with about 10 Australians and including FASD advocates such as Lorian Hayes, Janet Hammill, Sue Miers, Elizabeth Elliot, Collen O’Leary and Carol Bowers from WA attended the 2nd International Conference on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Research, Policy and Practice Around the World in Vancouver, Canada.

Over 1,200 delegates from countries such Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, Finland, Nigeria, El Salvador, Canada, Holland, Germany, South Africa and the United States attended.

Even though there has been research across the world looking at the impact of alcohol and fetal development – you wouldn’t know it here in Australia.

Doctors and advisory groups are still advising women “it’s ok to drink in moderation’ even though world evidence is overwhelming in its advice that there is no safe amount of alcohol consumed while pregnant.

Although it has taken quite a long time for there to be any action on FASD in Australia I am highly excited that the FASD conference in November will lead to a change in the way we deal with FASD.

We as Australians need to make sure that this issue finally receives the attention that it deserves and actioned on behalf of all those suffering from alcohol consumption during pregnancy.


The 1st Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Australasia Conference is happening in  Brisbane November 19th – 20th. You can find out the latest about the conference on Twitter @FASD2013 and #FASD2013.



Scott Wilson

Scott is the Director of the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (SA). Scott's experience in the areas of substance use, misuse and abuse has seen him on nearly every major governmental and non-government committee in Australia over the past 15 years. Scott is an Executive member of the Alcohol and Drug Council of Australia and has been a co-Deputy Chair of the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee since it was first formed in early 2004. Scott is also a former board member of the Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education.

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