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International FASD Awareness Day

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day 2019

This year's event is run as a part of International FASD Awareness Month and aims to raise awareness of FASD in Bendigo and the surrounding region. It is again be free to attend for anyone, but we ask that you register using the link below as there are limited spaces.

The event will feature international guest speaker Professor Dorothy Badry, a FASD expert from the University of Calgary, Canada. It aims to attract professionals accross sectors including: health, allied health, community and human services, child protection, justice, education, mental health, drug and alcohol, early intervention, disability, as well as parents and carers and people with lived experience of FASD.

DATE: Thursday October 4, 2019
TIME: 12.00pm – 4.00 pm
LOCATION: Room 2.51 Health Sciences Building, La Trobe University, Sharon Street, Flora Hill, Bendigo, VIC 3551

Full details and a registration link are provided below. Please feel free to forward this message to others in your networks.

This event supported by the Violet Vines Marshman Initiative, La Trobe Rural Health School and the Victorian FASD Special Interest Group.

Summary of the Day

Written by SIG member Sejla Stammers

The short presentations in the morning were from Kerryn Bagley (overview of FASD), Jane Halliday (how common is FASD?), Evi Muggli (Victorian research), Kim Cowan (Goulbourn Valley Health FASD diagnostic clinic), Robyn Smith (NOFASD) and Prue Walker (FASD resources).

The keynote lunchtime speaker was Doug Shelton, Director of Women’s, Newborn’s and Children’s Division, Gold Coast Health. He spoke about why diagnosis is important, highlighting:

“…it can change the way that a child is treated generally and the kind of contact they have with society…” and “…diagnosis is beneficial for parents and carers in terms of understanding what is going on for their child(ren).”

A panel discussion followed his talk with an important contribution from Anne Russel, Founder of Russell Family Fetal Alcohol Disorders Association who provided an overview of the Association, including the benefits of having like-minded support from an organisation that has a solid history in FASD and a focus on partnerships. Themes coming out of the panel discussion and from audience questions were that a) FASD diagnosis itself provided “unbelievable relief”, b) “when you know better, you do better”, c) diagnosis provides a roadmap to long term ongoing journey for treatment and management and d) it is most often impossible to distinguish and disentangle trauma and FASD signs, and sometimes you don’t need to. FASD doesn’t go away but trauma might change and shift.  

The afternoon included four breakout sessions, with about 50 participants in each. These included:

  • Workshop 1: Embedding FASD diagnosis in a broad neurodevelopmental assessment for children: a workshop for paediatricians, psychologists/neuropsychologists and other health providers.
  • Workshop 2: A practical approach to recognising and responding to FASD for Child Protection, Out-of-home Care, Youth Services and Youth Justice.
  • Workshop 3: FASD across the lifespan: how does FASD present and how can families, carers and the service system respond?
  • Workshop 4: Parents and Carers Workshop with Anne Russell.

The day was considered an overall success, with significant positive feedback, including the below reflection about the morning session:

“…this was an excellent opportunity for various practitioners to hear from experts on diagnosis. Two parents attended this workshop and co-facilitated as well, which provided participants with an opportunity to ask targeted questions.”

Picture (L – R): Evi Muggli, Kate Gray, Sejla Stammers, Doug Shelton, Prue Walker, Kerryn Bagley, Jane Halliday, Kellie Hammerstein, Katrina Harris.