$2.7m for Newcastle and Alice Springs to fight the impact of alcohol on the unborn

PREGNANT PAUSE: Drinking alcohol during pregnancy causes a lifelong sentence for children born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
PREGNANT PAUSE: Drinking alcohol during pregnancy causes a lifelong sentence for children born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

NEWCASTLE has been selected by the federal government as one of two sites to lead the fight against the hidden epidemic of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

The region is expected to receive more than $500,000 over three years for a prevention program that focuses on increasing community awareness, prevention, skills development for workers and primary health diagnosis.

FASD is a range of incurable, but preventable conditions, caused by exposure to alcohol in the womb.

No one's sure how many Australians are affected by FASD, but the consequences for those who are can be devastating.

It is the most common form of non-genetic birth defects and can result in permanent physical, intellectual and behaviour problems.

A consortium led by Telethon Kids Institute, including Newcastle Local Drug Action Team (LDAT), has secured $2.7 million in funding over three years for its Make FASD History program.

Newcastle LDAT chairman Tony Brown said Newcastle’s “record of reducing alcohol harm” had been recognised again.

In 2008, earlier closing times and strict liquor laws were imposed across Newcastle in a bid to curb alcohol-fuelled violence. A 2014 study found up to 4000 assaults had been prevented in the six years since the measures were introduced. 

Mr Brown said he was hopeful of producing the same type of success tackling FASD.

“Making FASD History requires a whole of government, whole of community team response,” he said.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for the whole of Newcastle to get behind this initiative and secure the bright and productive futures of all our kids, free from FASD.” 

A FASD prevention awareness forum will be held in Newcastle on Tuesday, December 5.