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Supporting Indigenous People with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: An online resource for health professionals


Despite the high prevalence of FASD in remote Aboriginal Communities and high turnover of staff, there is no resource available to educate health professionals about how to work with people with FASD.


We propose to develop an online FASD learning resource that provides culturally appropriate information to the staff of mainstream health services in remote Aboriginal Communities.  After completing the module health professionals will:

  • understand the characteristics and manifestations of FASD
  • understand the process and reasons for diagnosing FASD
  • understand the challenges people with FASD experience in their day-to-day lives
  • develop practical skills and strategies for working with people with FASD

Target audience

The resource will be designed for all staff working in health services in the Fitzroy Valley of WA. The module will be made available to staff working in local hospitals, visiting allied health and paediatric health services, the Kimberley Drug and Alcohol Mental Health Service (including Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service), non-government organisations, health services and NDIS services. The Fitzroy Valley was chosen because the prevalence of FASD is known to be 18 times higher in this community compared to the general population. However, the resource will apply to other remote Aboriginal Communities in the Kimberley and beyond.

Expected outcomes

The learning module will

  • increase the confidence of staff working in health services to recognise and respond appropriately to people affected by FASD
  • provide an overview of the history of Fitzroy Crossing and cultural considerations when working in the community
  • what FASD is, how alcohol disrupts fetal development
  • practical tips and strategies for working with people with varying executive function deficits
  • discuss the sensitive nature of the disorder and provide strategies for working with women in pregnancy to reduce the risk of prenatal alcohol exposure
  • ask trainees to reflect on potential biases or attitudes that might influence how they would interact with a person with FASD and, just as importantly, with the person’s family and birth mother
  • provide tips on the type of language that should be used when talking to families to ensuring a no-blame, no-shame approach

By educating staff, it’s anticipated that the resource will help to reduce some of the barrier’s individuals with FASD face when accessing health services.


  • Interviews will be held with people with FASD and their families
  • Interviews and surveys will be conducted with health professionals
  • Members of the Project Steering Committee will review the information from the interviews and survey and develop the learning resource. The content will be written with local Aboriginal people to ensure it is culturally appropriate
  • A videographer will travel to Fitzroy Crossing, Broome, Perth and Sydney to film people with expertise in FASD diagnosis, local health staff, community members and where possible individuals with FASD. Videos will be embedded into the online resource.
  • The Steering Committee will develop a set of questions to review people accessing the modules knowledge. A third party will be contracted to create the online resource.
  • The module will be piloted, evaluated and disseminated across health services.

Our Project Team

Marninwarntikura Women's Resource Centre

  • Ms Jadnah Davies
  • Ms Sue Thomas
  • Ms Jane Weston
  • Ms Emily Carter
  • Mr Eric Bedford
  • Ms Laurena Shaw
  • Ms Chyenne Carter

University of Sydney

  • Dr Lauren Rice
  • Professor Elizabeth Elliott

Telethon Kids Institute

  • Ms Lisa Cannon


Project Partners: Marninwarntikura Women's Resource Centre, University of Sydney, Telethon Kids Institute

Project Funder: National Disability Insurance Scheme Mainstream Capacity Building Grant

Contact Us

Dr Lauren Rice

02 9114 4106