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FASD Hub Chair delivers prestigious Maybanke Lecture honouring advocate Maybanke Anderson

Professor Elizabeth Elliott delivering the 11th Annual Maybanke Lecture

Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM, delivered the 11th Maybanke Lecture to a packed room of parliamentarians, advocates, researchers and the wider community earlier this month in Sydney to mark the 133rd anniversary of feminist Maybanke Anderson's first public speech.

Professor Elliott's presentation titled, “A fair go for all kids: tackling Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Australia” provided an overview of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), including the estimated prevalence and the latest research developments in Australia and globally.

Professor Elliott, a Distinguished Professor in Paediatrics & Child Health at The University of Sydney and Consultant Paediatrician for the Sydney Children's Hospital Network, also spoke about the myths around FASD and the importance of tackling these misconceptions, including the importance of reinforcing the message that there is no “safe level” of alcohol consumption when pregnant.

“[The] first [misconception] is that FASD is confined to children of alcoholic mothers. This is not true. No safe level for alcohol use in pregnancy has been established, no amount, no type and no time is right,” Professor Elliott said. 

Another area that Professor Elliott touched on was the importance of screening children for FASD and other impairments at the first contact with the justice system, highlighting research completed in Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre in Perth in 2019 which found that 90% of the detainees had a significant brain impairment, with at least 36% of them having FASD. 

“We need to start by acknowledging that jail is not the right place for young children with severe developmental or cognitive disabilities and its harmful to their health and mental health,” she said.

All proceeds raised from the event went to the Maybanke Fund, established in honour of Maybanke Selfe Wolstenholme Anderson, a writer, leader, feminist, early childhood education pioneer, and promoter of the rights of women and children in Australia.

You can listen to the recording of Professor Elliott’s Maybanke Lecture in full here.