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What justice professionals can do

Many people living with FASD can learn and lead successful and fulfilled lives. Despite the challenges, thorough assessment, early diagnosis, strong parent and carer engagement, individualised therapy and personalised learning plans, good outcomes across a range of life goals can be achieved.

With early diagnosis and targeted management strategies, most young people can overcome specific deficits in skills and behaviours and reduce the risk of secondary impairments such as contact with the justice system.

FASD prevalence in justice system

  • International research has reported a high prevalence of people with FASD among youth and adults in prison and correctional facilities - 60% of youth with FASD become involved with the criminal justice system and people with FASD are 19 times more likely to be gaoled compared to those without FASD
  • In Canada, it has been estimated that 30% of the costs associated with services and support for people with FASD are spent in the justice sector.
  • In a study at the Banksia Hill Youth Detention Centre in Western Australia 36% of young people were diagnosed with FASD and 89% had severe impairment in at least one neurodelopmental domain.

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Assessment and referrals

People working in the justice system such as police, lawyers, judicial officers and corrective services officers (youth justice officers, custodial staff) need to understand the underlying reasons for the behaviour of some of the children and young people who have come into contact with the justice system.

It is vital that children engaging with the justice system at a young age are referred for neurodevelopmental assessment to identify impairments and services to reduce the risk of harm to both themselves and others, and break the cycle of reoffending. When children and young people appear in court a request for an assessment by either the person’s lawyer or the judge/magistrate may assist with the imposition of orders and sentencing.

Australian FASD multidisciplinary clinics and individual FASD informed health professionals can be found in the Service Directory

FASD in Australia

Managing FASD

Challenges and Hope

Michael and Lina’s story

Reframe Training

Developed by researchers at the Telethon Kids Institute, Reframe Training is an evidence-based program that aims to educate frontline professionals to recognise and understand neurodisability in young people, reframe associated behaviours, and respond appropriately.

The program was initially tailored for the youth justice workforce but is now open to anyone who interacts with individuals with complex needs and behaviours.

Dr Hayley Passmore

Reframe Training