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Making FASD History in the Pilbara: celebrating International FASD Awareness Day

To mark International FASD Awareness Day, Telethon Kids Institute will launch a series of health promotion videos that feature local Aboriginal community members sharing their stories around how to address the important issue of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
The videos have been produced by the Pilbara Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Project - ‘Warajanga Marnti Warrarnja – Together we walk on country’, a collaboration between the Telethon Kids Institute, Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation and BHP.

This five-year research project aims to make FASD history in the Pilbara, and reduce the prevalence and impact of FASD in the region, specifically in Port Hedland, Warralong and Yandeyarra.

The research team is working with the community to support FASD prevention, diagnosis, treatment, family support, capacity building and policy advocacy. The work fosters genuine community leadership, and ownership of issues related to alcohol and other substance use in pregnancy.

The videos were produced following feedback from the community that they wanted to receive health messages from fellow local community members.

The videos include the community-developed health promotion messages ‘No Gurry (grog) for healthy babies’ and ‘Having alcohol at any time during your pregnancy can hurt your baby’ while celebrating the leadership shown by the Hedland communities to address FASD and alcohol use in pregnancy.

Dr James Fitzpatrick, Head of Alcohol, Pregnancy and FASD Research at Telethon Kids, said the communities of the Pilbara are inspirational for their courage in taking on the issue of FASD.

“Making FASD history is a priority for their current and future generations, and we are proud to be able to support them in this important work,” said Dr Fitzpatrick. “Our work in partnership with Wirraka Maya and BHP is breaking new ground in FASD prevention, diagnosis and support and our research teams at Telethon Kids are committed to walking together to make FASD history.”

June Councillor, CEO of Wirraka Maya, called on the community to take a stand now and help make FASD history in Pilbara communities.

"Our children, our community and our culture are important to us,” said Ms Councillor. "If you are planning a pregnancy or you think you may be pregnant please don't drink and if you need to talk with someone about this, you can speak to our health and or wellbeing staff at Wirraka Maya."

Edgar Basto, Asset President, Western Australian Iron Ore at BHP said, “With FASD being a completely preventable illness, we hope that this project will ensure children are given the best start to life and will help to make a difference in the Pilbara.”

Local health and community services will be supporting the event with a number of stalls set up on the day including Bloodwood Tree, Child Australia, Aboriginal Family Law Services, Cassia Educational Support Unit, Wirrka Maya Health Services, Telethon Kids Institute and others.

International FASD Awareness Day is celebrated on the 9th September.