The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum
Disorder (FASD) project is sponsored by Rotary Clubs in Western Australia (WA)
with the Rotary Club of Osborne Park being the primary leader Club. It aims to diagnose and treat children who present with
FASD in the remote Goldfields region; and to encourage the emergence of natural support
networks & preventative strategies within isolated communities to reduce
The condition affects many people, especially those experiencing
poverty and other life challenges. FASD is a condition that causes permanent physical, cognitive, behavioural, and neuro-developmental disabilities.
Children’s families, carers and support services have huge
pressures placed on them because affected children have learning issues and they are difficult to
manage with problematic socialization abilities and skills. When they become adolescents and adults many acquire anti-social behaviours and spend
much time in justice and mental health services (one WA study of a Juvenile
detention centre identified 33% of inmates as having FASD).
As an adult they find it difficult to effectively sustain
relationships and be a parent, and experience a shorter life expectancy.
A pilot study over 8-years, in the remote Fitzroy Valley in
the North-East of Western Australia successfully decreased alcohol consumption
from 65% to 15% for Aboriginal (First Nations People) & non-indigenous
pregnant women. In this study 19% of new-borns were diagnosed with FASD. The
intervention model was unique because it crossed traditional service
boundaries. It co-ordinated community, health, education, police, justice &
welfare services to achieve results.
The model needs to be replicated
with a different remote community (i.e. different indigenous languages groups,
with some having different occupations) to ascertain whether the positive
outcome in Fitzroy related to the project strategies or the enthusiasm of the
people implementing it - and whether the service model can with small
modifications, be applicable across communities.
Western Australian Rotary
Clubs are partnering with Dr James Fitzpatrick, who is a Paediatrician, world leader in FASD, developer of a reliable and professionally
recognised diagnostic methodology for identifying FASD in in many permutations, and leader and designer of the successful Fitzroy
Rotary Australia plan to pilot the project
in the remote town of Leonora where many professional people have reported what
is apparently a high incidence of the condition.
Rotary’s plan is to diagnose
and support up to 160 children with FASD and their families. Community
participation (including the employment of a local Aboriginal) is a key part of
If successful in this community, then it can be expanded to other
The Rotary in Western Australia pilot project will operate for two years
at a cost of $525,000.
No Government funding is available for
this preventative initiative.
The project was launched in June 2017 and Rotary has successfully raised 80%
of the projected budget. Rotary District 9455 has three International Rotary Partners but
we are still short of some cash from international providers and within our
The likely outcomes and benefits of the
awareness that focuses community and service provider attention on
generates community and service provider “wrap-around” and “whole-of-community”
initiatives to prevent FASD,
the development of early intervention treatment and management strategies to minimize the
impact of FASD on children with this condition, and parents/carers, unaffected
siblings and communities,
an independent evaluation that confirms the
applicability (or applicability with modifications) of the model.
The Rotary Club of Osborne Park is still seeking support
from other organisations. The below link contains contact information should anyone be willing to help Rotary in this regard.