Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the term used to describe the wide range of lifelong physical and neurodevelopmental impairments that can result from drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Children and adults who have FASD live with significant cognitive, health and learning difficulties.
FASD is a significant social and public health issue in Western Australia. A 2018 study from Telethon Kids Institute found one in three young people in youth detention in WA has FASD. Initial diagnosis remains complex. Four years after ‘the Australian guided to the diagnosis of FASD’ was released in 2016 FASD is still not officially recognised as a disability, and many vulnerable individuals struggle to access FASD assessments, which means people are not receiving the support they need.
While there is no cure for FASD, there are effective interventions and supports that can help lessen the impacts. Importantly, FASD is preventable. A whole of Government plan to tackle FASD, including prevention activities, needs to be developed. Meanwhile, early recognition and early therapy will minimise adverse outcomes. Education, Health, Child Protection and Justice workers must be equipped with the tools to effectively work with people with FASD including the skills to determine whether a person should be assessed for the condition.
Alison’s questions in Parliament have shown the WA Labor Government has repeatedly failed to act on important recommendations regarding FASD. She will continue to push for progress in this complex, but important area.