Alcohol Action NZ welcomes Paula Penfold’s powerful documentary on FASD entitled “Disordered” that was released today, and encourages everyone to watch it.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is the result of brain damage suffered before birth from drinking during pregnancy. It is a lifelong disability directly caused by alcohol. As they grow up, those affected by FASD often run into trouble with the law and many end up in prison. However, FASD has been almost completely ignored by successive governments, with few appropriate health or support services provided for individuals or their whānau, no attempts characterize the size and nature of the problem, and no prevention strategy.
This documentary, made with Stuff Circuit, provides an insight into lives affected by FASD and our collective failure to respond with competence or compassion.
Professor Jennie Connor, a medical spokesperson for Alcohol Action NZ, says “In a 2009 NZMJ editorial, Professor Doug Sellman and I estimated FASD to affect 600 to 3000 babies born in Aotearoa every year, and in 2022 we still don’t know much more than that about how many people are affected.
Dr Tony Farrell, Chair of Alcohol Action NZ, said “A full range of services and supports need to be developed for individuals and whānau affected by FASD – from diagnostic services through to appropriate lifelong support.”
“The specific exclusion of FASD from recognition as a disability, and thereby from entitlement to support, must end”, he added.
The open secret that Māori are disproportionately affected by FASD, and that alcohol has been a major contributor to harm and inequities post-colonisation, will be front and centre in hearing of Rāwiri Ratū’s Waitangi Tribunal claim (Wai2575) that is scheduled to start next week.
Professor Connor commented “The public needs adequate protection from industries that sell inherently harmful commodities, whether they are pesticides or alcohol.”
“The rights of Māori to protection from alcohol-related harm under te Titiri O Waitangi will be set out in the Waitangi Tribunal hearing on FASD starting on Monday 14 March.”
Alcohol Action NZ advocates for prevention of alcohol-related harm through alcohol policy which reduces consumption in the population. In the case of FASD, a high level of awareness that alcohol causes brain damage is critical, among pregnant women and throughout the population, but to be effective we also need to adopt policies to reduce normalisation of heavy drinking.
Dr Tony Farrell
Alcohol Action NZ
Mobile: 027 4575462
Professor Jennie Connor
Alcohol Action NZ
Mobile: 021 2797745