Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder destroying Indigenous communities

Release Date: 
7 November 2014
Media release

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report released today paints a disturbing picture around Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

The report titled Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Strategies to address information gaps highlights the limited information about the prevalence of FASD and the lack of a co-ordinated approach in prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, the Hon Alan Tudge MP, argues the report strengthens the case for welfare reform in many Indigenous communities.

"FASD is at crisis levels in many Indigenous communities," Mr Tudge said.

"We know from some individual studies, some places in Australia have the highest rates of FASD in the world. In Fitzroy Crossing, for example, one in four babies are reportedly being born with FASD. The brain damage does not go away. A baby born with FASD will likely struggle at school and have significantly diminished chances of getting work."

FASD is 100 per cent preventable. It is possibly the most preventable cause of intellectual impairment among children in the world.

The Government has already taken positive steps with its National FASD Action Plan and is also looking at additional measures to get on top of the alcohol problem in our Indigenous communities in its response to the Forrest Review.

"Part of the answer is education. We certainly need a better understanding of the prevalence of FASD and its nature. But we also have to be serious about how we provide welfare. This is why we are seriously considering Andrew Forrest's idea of a cashless debit card."

"If we do not get on top of the alcohol we will never end the Indigenous disparity," Mr Tudge said.