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Meet the researcher: David Tucker

David Tucker:

My name is David Tucker, and I'm a senior research officer at the Telethon Kids Institute and a PhD candidate at the National Drug Research Institute in Perth.

I would like to acknowledge the Kariyarra, Ngarluma, Nyiyaparli and Martu people whose land our research takes place on, and pay respect to their elders, past, present and emerging.

Text displayed on the screen: What is the Making FASD History in the Pilbara project?

David Tucker:

Since 2015, the Making FASD History in the Pilbara project has worked with Aboriginal communities across the Pilbara to better understand prenatal alcohol exposure rates and to also understand how to support women to avoid alcohol consumption while pregnant.

Text displayed on the screen: What has the project found?

David Tucker:

In this project, we've conducted over 1,000 interviews with Aboriginal men and women. These interviews have shown that over 90 per cent of people are aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy could harm a baby. Despite this, the rates of social descriptive norms remain high. That is, many people believe that most or all women are drinking during pregnancy.

To be successful in preventing FASD, it is important to understand the reasons that women might drink during pregnancy. Among participants in our study, we found that most people are drinking to join in with family and friends and to be sociable. When asked about the things that might help women to not drink during pregnancy, we consistently hear that having a supportive partner and family is critical.

Text displayed on the screen: How can men support their partners to not drink during pregnancy?

David Tucker:

In local Aboriginal culture, there is sometimes a distinction between issues that are considered women’s business and issues that are considered men’s business. We're consistently hearing from both men and women in the Pilbara that, while traditionally considered women's business, pregnancy should be considered family business. That is, it is everyone’s responsibility to have healthy babies.

We always work with local community researchers of the appropriate gender to help us guide communication. I've been working with men in the Pilbara, and rather than focusing on pregnancy, we've focused our message on strong, healthy kids. This has helped the men that I work with understand that they have an important role to play in the prevention of FASD, in supporting their partners and family, and in abstaining from alcohol themselves.