Submission

Senate Community Affairs References Committee Inquiry into effective approaches to prevention and diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and strategies for optimising life outcomes for people with FASD

Publisher
alcohol and drug interventions Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Indigenous children Indigenous health Australia
Description

The high prevalence of alcohol related harm (including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)) in Aboriginal communities is strongly linked to the processes of colonisation which have undermined the capacity of some families to care for their children. Any approach to addressing FASD in Aboriginal communities must therefore be founded on the rights of these peoples as established under international agreements to which Australia is a signatory. 
Poverty and inequality are both strongly correlated with increased rates of addiction, including to alcohol. Government must address the widening income gap and falling incomes of Aboriginal people particularly in remote Australia.

Key Recommendations:

  • That any approach to addressing the high prevalence of FASD in Aboriginal communities must be based upon the rights to self determination of Aboriginal peoples as established under international agreements to which Australia is a signatory, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • That all programs for preventing, diagnosing or treating FASD where there are significant numbers of Aboriginal people in the community be founded on a positive attitude to Aboriginal culture and ways of being, and resourced to be trauma-informed and healing-focused.
  • Provision of access to evidence-informed early childhood development programs for children aged 0 to 4 in at risk families is a key strategy for the primary prevention of alcohol-related harms in the future and for breaking the intergenerational cycle of the harmful use of alcohol. Sustained investment in such programs should be a foundation for addressing alcohol related harm including FASD.

Culture and spirituality are important in addressing intergenerational trauma through supporting resilience, positive social and emotional wellbeing, and living a life free of addiction to alcohol and drugs. Programs for preventing, diagnosing or treating FASD where there are significant numbers of Aboriginal people must incorporate positive attitudes to Aboriginal culture and ways of being, and resourced to be trauma-informed and healing-focused.

Publication Details
Publication Year:
2019