Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Prevention and Health Promotion Resources Project

The FASD Project team visiting and learning from OVAHS staff. [L to R] Jenni Rogers, Jane Cooper, Hayley Williams, Bev Russ, Annie Wilson, Christine Armit.

The FASD Project team visiting and learning from OVAHS staff.

NACCHO partnered with Menzies School of Health Research and the Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) to develop and implement a flexible, modular package of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Prevention and Health Promotion Resources (FPHPR) to reduce the impact of FASD on the Aboriginal population.

The package of resources is based on the model developed by the Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service (OVAHS) and was designed for the 85 New Directions Mothers and Babies Services (NDMBS) across the country. NDMBS sites are located in rural, remote and urban regions, and aim to increase access to child and maternal health care for Aboriginal women and their families. Of the 85 NDMBS sites, 52 are NACCHO Member Services.

The package incorporates FASD education modules targeting five key groups:

  • Pregnant women using NDMBS antenatal services, and their partners and families;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women of childbearing age;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander grandmothers;
  • NDMBS staff who provide antenatal care; and
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

A series of FASD workshops were held in each State and Territory across the country in 2016. A train-the-trainer approach was used to enable the participating NDMBS sites to tailor the acquired knowledge and resource package to individual service and community needs. This took into consideration the available workforce, staff training and development needs, data and services, systems capacity and stage of readiness for implementation.

Workshop participants were upskilled in brief intervention, motivational interviewing and knowledge and awareness of FASD. The training also assisted participants with ways of designing localised strategies to prevent FASD which can be tailored to suit the needs of individual communities.

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can have devastating consequences for the unborn child which can last a lifetime. Conditions common to FASD may include learning difficulties, impulsiveness, and difficulty relating actions to consequences, social relationships, attention, hyperactivity, poor memory, developmental delays and major organ damage.

Health Professionals asking and advising women of childbearing age about the consequences of alcohol consumption during pregnancy is an essential strategy in preventing FASD. Of the 80 health professionals who participated in the project, a range of multipronged FASD prevention strategies have been implemented. Such strategies include, but are not limited to, routine screening of pregnant women throughout all stages of pregnancy, recording screening results in clinical records, the implementation of formalised FASD partnerships and steering groups, using brief intervention and motivational interviewing techniques to guide conversations about alcohol and pregnancy, changes to data recording systems, small group and one-on-one education sessions and community led awareness raising strategies.