Grog Hits Indigenous Babies
The nation's first comprehensive study of the
impact of excessive drinking on unborn Aboriginal children has
revealed devastating rates of intellectual disability.
The study, conducted in Western Australia's Kimberley region,
found that half of babies there are born with disabilities from
foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
The research, undertaken by the Lililwan Project, found that one
in two Aboriginal children attending school in the region's Fitzroy
Valley has the disorder, a condition that ranges in severity from
severe learning and behavioural problems to acute intellectual
The study has stunned policymakers in Canberra and carries
massive implications for the Northern Territory and Queensland
governments, which plan to deregulate drinking in Aboriginal
communities that had previously decided to be ''dry''.
Advertisement It also carries grave implications for the Gillard
government's ''Closing the Gap'' targets.
A survey of eight-year-old children and their mothers' drinking
patterns over two years identified much higher rates of the
disorder than previously thought, and confirmed what experts have
been claiming for years: that excessive alcohol consumption is
devastating indigenous communities throughout Australia.
According to experts who gave evidence to a federal
parliamentary inquiry into foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which
will report later this month, undiagnosed foetal brain damage is
linked to autism, youth suicide, high rates of indigenous
incarceration, chronic unemployment and poor education outcomes in
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