The Morrison-Joyce Government is investing more than $37 million for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) diagnostic services to increase access and reduce waiting times as well as launching a new National Awareness Campaign for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Women.
FASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder resulting from prenatal exposure to alcohol. It is a preventable disorder which can have a terrible, lifelong impact on mothers, their babies and families.
FASD babies suffer increased risk of premature birth, as well as permanent damage to their brain and other critical organs. More than 2 per cent of Australian babies may be born with some form of FASD.
From November 30, in an Australian first, a new awareness campaign to increase awareness of the risks associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding will commence. The campaign aims to support and inform women to make healthy choices while planning and during a pregnancy to reduce the risk and the incidence of FASD.
Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce welcomed the additional funding and said the extra support and services would benefit Australian families in New England.
“Not only will this funding help support Australian children with FASD, the new campaign will help to raise more awareness of FASD and the increased risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“Today’s announcement is just another example of the Coalition Government’s commitment to improving the health of Australians, including in New England and ensuring they can access the support and treatments they need, when they need it.”
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the Coalition Government was providing $27.4 million to the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), who will deliver the campaign.
“The campaign will feature messages for the general public, priority groups such as women at higher risk of alcohol exposed pregnancies, health professionals, and Indigenous populations,” Minister Hunt said.
“It also builds on our ongoing commitment to support women and families to stop drinking when trying for a baby and during their pregnancy, to prevent babies from being born with FASD, and help babies born with this condition.”
The Morrison-Joyce Government is also supporting children with FASD and their families by investing $9 million to expand diagnostic services in New South Wales (including regional locations), regional Victoria and Southern and Central Queensland.
Minister for Regional Health, Dr David Gillespie, said it’s important that all families and children that need these support services can access them when and where they need them, regardless of where they live.
“The University of Sydney will receive more than $4 million to boost FASD services through the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network in multiple rural and regional communities in NSW, as well as Sydney,” Minister Gillespie said.
“The funding will also support Patches Assessment Services (NSW), the University of Queensland and the Victorian Foetal Alcohol Service (Monash Health) to deliver new services and treatment to Australians who need it.”
This funding brings total Government investment in the fight against FASD to more than
$78 million since 2014.
The funding to expand FASD diagnostic services was announced in the 2020–21 Budget as part of FASD diagnostic and support services to support the National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Strategic Action Plan 2018–2028.
For more information visit the Department of Health website for the National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan 2018–2028.