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Thursday 16-Feb-2012 (1034 hrs CST)

National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome abd Related Disorders



16 February 2012:

Australia’s peak body representing parents, carers and others affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) has called on the Federal Government to take comprehensive steps to address the single largest most undiagnosed and unrecognised cause of disability in the Australian community.

The National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Related Disorders (NOFASARD) newly appointed National Program Coordinator, Vicki Russell, said that any strategy to tackle FASD must acknowledge that an individual exposed to alcohol before birth, and who experiences adverse fetal outcomes, will live with the disabilities for life.

"The community doesn’t understand that FASD is a lifetime condition. The impact for those with FASD, including their families, and carers is devastating," Ms Russell said.

NOFASARD’s submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders calls for FASD to be recognised as a national registered disability, and underlines that the current failure to provide proper services for individuals with FASD is unacceptable.

"Those living with FASD, their parents, families and carers are doing it tough. It is one thing for a parent or carer to be managing misunderstood behaviours in a child; it is quite another to be ignored or blamed and denied the services they need and deserve," Ms Russell said.

NOFASARD’s submission also stresses the critical importance of a national prevention plan incorporating both a national education campaign together with mandatory alcohol warning labels.

"FASD is the most common preventable cause of birth defects in Australia, yet we still have no national prevention strategies to inform people of the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy", Ms Russell said.

The national education campaign would focus on gender specific education programs for girls and women on alcohol use and would inform all pre-conceiving and pregnant parents of the risks of alcohol use in pregnancy.

Visible, mandatory warning labels would feature on all alcohol beverage products sold in Australia, on all alcohol product advertising in Australia and at all points of sale.

Ms Russell sees the government inquiry as an important first step in recognising the critical gaps that exist in the prevention and management of FASD.

"NOFASARD works on the frontline. Every day we witness the very real impact and toll on those living with FASD, and those caring for them. Much more needs to be done to address their needs and I urge the inquiry to take swift and decisive action," Ms Russell said.

Vicki Russell is available for interview.

Media Contact: Vicki Russell 03 6442 3322 or 0400 133 107





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