Senate debates

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Statements by Senators

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

1:42 pm

Photo of Stirling GriffStirling Griff (SA, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] Next Thursday is International FASD Awareness Day, which seeks to raise awareness of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. FASD is a devastating condition where in utero exposure to alcohol causes irreversible, lifelong brain damage. Sadly, our awareness and understanding of FASD is still limited and much more needs to be done. That is why two years ago I initiated a Senate inquiry into FASD. That inquiry reported in March this year and made 32 recommendations—recommendations which are powerful and necessary.

The response from government is now well and truly overdue. I worry that we will see a repeat of the 2012 House inquiry into FASD. That inquiry made important recommendations, but these were never fully acted upon. We cannot afford to wait for another report in another decade. We need government to step up and do what is right and we need them to do it urgently. In the absence of government action it's been left to parents, researchers and health professionals to do the work. They are the people providing care, support and assistance. They are the people advocating for better understanding, better education and better resources. They are the people who know the costs of inaction. They see it every day. We need to do better by them. We owe it to them to ensure that the government acts on FASD. Government should start with a response to the Senate inquiry, followed by prompt implementation of its recommendations. And they should keep acting until we make a real difference to the lives of those Australians suffering from this horrible, invisible epidemic.