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Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Page: 2923

Dr STONE (1:51 PM) —foetal alcohol spectrum disorder or foetal alcohol syndrome is the greatest cause of non-genetic permanent intellectual and physical disability in newborns in Australia. In fact, if you drink while pregnant you are running an enormous risk with your baby. Nearly 60 percent of Australian women do drink alcohol during their pregnancy. Too many do not know the risks they take.

Yesterday, in a bipartisan approach, members and senators formed a new group with the aim of eliminating FAS and FASD from Australia. We are one of the few developed nations still not taking this problem seriously; a problem which affects young Australians right through their lives in very serious and debilitating ways. This group aims to ensure that in the future there are warnings on alcohol product labelling. We need a national diagnostic tool for this condition, and this is under development. We need better education for practising medical professionals, service providers and particularly police and those who work in the judiciary. We need to assist and support pregnant women who have alcohol dependency and we need to learn from best practice overseas.

Of course, we need to give FAS and FASD the status of recognised disabilities in Australia to facilitate better funding for the delivery of services, and to help families who are dealing with the victims of FAS or FASD and who struggle every day to make sure that their children have a decent life.