Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, says investment in holistic, community driven programs is needed to address the alarming impacts of foteal alcohol spectrum disorder throughout Aboriginal communities.
"Foteal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) has been long identified as a serious health concern amongst Aboriginal children, but reports of its prevalence in the Kimberley make for very hard reading," Senator Siewert said today.
"These figures clearly demonstrate why an effective, national strategy to target alcohol abuse is so desperately needed.
"This is a tragic situation that needs a concerted effort on the part of the states and the Commonwealth.
"There is no one answer to reducing the impact of alcohol, and importantly the issues being raised cannot be effectively addressed through the top-down action seen in the Northern Territory.
"Unlike the approaches being taken under the NT Intervention, we need to start working with communities to implement a range of measures to reduce the harm being caused. These must be community owned and driven initiatives, such as we have seen in Fitzroy Crossing.
"Potential mechanisms include supply controls, pricing mechanisms such as a floor price and end of highly discounted alcohol, diversion programs, rehabilitation programs and improved access to health services.
"Many of these mechanisms require Government to take action as part of a comprehensive approach.
"Clearly the long term impact of FASD for children are significant and life-long. Education, employment and social engagement can all suffer significantly.
"I would encourage the Federal Government to work with the States and Territories to develop a nationwide, cooperative and evidence based approach to reducing the harm caused by alcohol," Senator Siewert concluded.