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Welcome to rffada

The Russell Family Fetal Alcohol Disorders Association (rffada) is a national not-for-profit health promotion charity dedicated to prevention and ensuring that individuals affected prenatally by alcohol have access to diagnostic services, support and multidisciplinary management planning in Australia and that carers and parents are supported with a “no blame no shame” ethos.

On this site you will find a range of support resources and information relating to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder, or FASD.

The Russell Family Fetal Alcohol Disorders Association (rffada) Strategic Plan is based on four key priorities.

    1. Prevention
    2. Support
    3. Training and Education
    4. Research and Projects

Newcastle FASD prevention Communique

On  11  December  2014,  a  broad  and  representative  cross  section  of  Newcastle based public, private and community organisations and individuals united to initiate the  development,  implementation  and  evaluation  of  a Fetal  Alcohol  Spectrum Disorders  (“FASD”  –  that  includes  Fetal  Alcohol  Syndrome)  integrated  response strategy for our city and surrounds.

The  meeting  (initiated  by  Newcastle  CDAT)  was  opened by  the Hon.  Dr  Sharman Stone  MP  Chairperson  of  the  House  of  Representatives,  Standing  Committee, Indigenous Affairs. The  meeting  with  the  assistance  of  expert  advice  from  the  Chair  of  the  National FASD Technical Network Professor Elizabeth Elliott  AM, noted that FASD were the most common non-genetic cause of birth defects and a range of permanent physical, intellectual  and  developmental  disabilities  that  are  primarily  preventable.  They agreed  that  a  proportionate  coordinated  response  to address  alcohol  use  in pregnancy  and  FASD  was  required  from  all  local  stakeholders  and  all  levels  of government.

The meeting enabled participants to achieve a better collective understanding of the risk  and  impact  that  drinking  during  pregnancy  was  having  on  Newcastle  families and the community. This was assisted with input from NOFASD – Adelle Rist. Such risks  were  heightened  with  historical  unacceptably  high  levels  in  the  region  of  the dangerous oversupply, promotion and consumption of alcohol.

The participants agreed to collaborate and consider committing appropriate levels of resources to develop and implement a local strategy to address FASD and related harms.  The  strategy  will  integrate  the  three  streams  of  prevention  and  education, diagnosis and treatment and, life-long community support for those diagnosed with FASD and their family members and carers.

As a first step, it was agreed that a multi-agency/community working group chaired by the Newcastle CDAT would convene to progress the holistic development of the strategy – key elements of which were determined during the meeting’s workshop. Participants  noted  the  unprecedented  reduction  in  alcohol  fuelled  violence  and subsequent  improvement  in  the  local  “drinking  culture”  in  Newcastle  as  a consequence of the adoption in 2008 of evidence based measures supported by the police and the community.

It concluded that such sustained improvements combined with a strong community commitment, spirit of cooperation, health, education and research expertise; creates a  high  degree  of  confidence  that  Newcastle  could  once  again  be  recognised  and emulated  for  its  leadership  in  preventing  and  addressing  FASD  on  a  whole community basis.

Tony Brown Newcastle CDAT Chairperson

11 December 2014

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Criminalising Alcohol Consumption during Pregnancy

The rffada does not support the criminalisation of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.  The rffada strongly empathises with the many Australians living with FASD and their need for access to services, the staff of which have been trained in the delivery of FASD-friendly programs, interventions and strategies. The rffada advocates for FASD to be recognised by the government as a disability and urges governments at all levels to invest in interventions and direct assistance to individuals with an FASD. However, the rffada does not support the premise that an individual with a FASD is a victim of a crime and, therefore does not support any form of compensation that has the effect of criminalising alcohol use during pregnancy.

Paraphrased from a statement written by NOFAS

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Study confirms dangers of fetal alcohol exposure

 

Research led by Biology PhD student Ben Laufer, right, under the supervision of Biology professor Shiva Singh, has confirmed earlier findings that exposure to even low levels of alcohol during pregnancy impacts gene expression and molecular alterations in the brains of newborns.

“Even a single binge dose of alcohol, at any time during pregnancy, results in alterations in gene expression and associated FASD-related (characteristics),” Laufer said.

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 AMA Alcohol Summit

 

The Summit culminated in eight recommendations forming a Plan of Action for the Australian Government however, none mentioned FASD other than acknowledging it as one of the many effects of alcohol use.

The rffada respectfully requests that the AMA considers the inclusion of a more robust and action orientated recommendation specifically for FASD comprised of 3 parts:

 

a.     An ongoing, national educational campaign which offers details on the     benefits of abstaining while pregnant, before conception and while breastfeeding. Combined with this message will be details of the condition itself citing symptoms, signs and characteristics. This message will be given in such a way as to avoid panic but inform the public. A campaign such as this will serve to provide the audience [which will consist of a broad range of population, from teenagers to medical professionals], with a consistent message

b.     Have FASD acknowledged as a disability by the federal government.

c.     Reduce the frequency of mis-diagnosis of FASD so that children do not have multiple diagnoses which ignore the brain-based cognitive impairment of prenatal exposure to alcohol

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Thank you to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Information Network

 

Peggy Oba and her family organisation The Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Information Network have made a welcome donation to the rffada. Thank you Peggy and family, this will mean printed brochures and posters to distribute to organisations and additional support for our parents and carers

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