Political courage and all party support to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) has called on all political parties to show courage and support recommendations contained in the report FASD: The Hidden Harm, tabled in federal parliament yesterday.

The report is the result of an inquiry by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs into Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

The NAAA strongly supports the Committee’s recommendations to prevent FASD including new public awareness campaigns, health advisory labels, a review of the availability and pricing of alcohol, and a review of alcohol marketing regulations.

“Action on this entirely preventable condition must be a priority for the whole community and for all parties. We urge the Parliament to show courage in supporting these important and bold recommendations for a comprehensive approach that must aim to eliminate FASD in Australia,” said Professor Mike Daube Co-Chair of the NAAA and Director of the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth.

“The Committee has rightly highlighted the need to increase awareness among women, health workers, and the wider community about the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy.  Equally important will be the development of effective prevention strategies through a review of the impacts of the pricing and availability of alcohol, and current regulations to respond to alcohol marketing,” said Todd Harper, Co-Chair of the NAAA and CEO of Cancer Council Victoria.

“The international scientific evidence shows that the most effective ways to reduce hazardous drinking and alcohol injuries and diseases in the population are by restricting the physical availability of alcohol through reducing opening hours and numbers of outlets, and increasing the price of alcohol through policies such as volumetric taxation and minimum pricing,” said Mr Harper.

Mr Todd Harper said the NAAA welcomed the Committee’s call for government to develop a National Alcohol Sales Reform Plan aimed at reducing the harms caused by alcohol consumption across Australia.

The NAAA has also backed the call for a National Plan of Action for the prevention, diagnosis and management of FASD to be completed by 1 June 2013.