The key steps involved in delivering Alcohol and Pregnancy projects are provided below as a useful starting point for developing your Community Action Plan and informing your approach. These steps provide an indicative guide; it is important to tailor your approach to your local community.

  1. Engaging your community to start conversations about the effects of alcohol on pregnancy
  2. Support your community by gathering and providing evidence of risk associated with alcohol and pregnancy
  3. Consider available programs and link with one that may suit your community.
  4. Supporting your community by facilitating open and inclusive communication channels
  5. Promoting and supporting collaboration

LDATs are not responsible for delivering Alcohol and Pregnancy projects, unless the group has the appropriate expertise. Their role is primarily to support communities to deliver quality projects to reduce alcohol consumption during pregnancy. This can be done in a number of ways, including:

  • Engaging with community organisations to raise awareness of the importance of Alcohol and Pregnancy projects and motivate them to take action
  • Providing evidence and data on the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy
  • Linking community organisations to quality Alcohol and Pregnancy projects
  • Supporting community organisations with communication around alcohol consumption during pregnancy
  • Promoting collaboration between community organisations.

a) Engaging the community

A critical role of LDATs is to engage with their community to put alcohol consumption during pregnancy on the public agenda and to motivate them to take action.

Tips for engaging the community:

  • Identify community organisations that you may partner with. See Section 2d: Working with community partners.
  • Identify key contacts and/or gatekeepers.
  • Find a named person in the organisation who can act as a champion and invest time into this relationship. A champion may be in leadership role, have an influential personality or be a proactive person who is passionate about preventing alcohol and other drug harms. For example, key contacts may include local doctors or family planning service staff. Meet face-to-face if you can, rather than just sending out information via email.
  • When discussing alcohol consumption during pregnancy, provide evidence on the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy (Section 3b) and promote the benefits to parents and the broader community. Show them how Alcohol and Pregnancy projects align with their core business and values.
  • Answer the question ‘What’s in it for me?’ by finding the hook for them. For example, are they motivated to deliver Alcohol and Pregnancy due to existing problems (e.g. high risk drinking culture, prevalence of FASD)?
  • Be aware of the sensitive nature and complexity of the topic. The seemingly easy task of giving up alcohol can be challenging in a community where alcohol and socialising goes hand in hand and varied ‘expert’ and anecdotal information can place pressure on parents-to-be. Refer to Section 2b: Critical considerations for the delivery of Alcohol and Pregnancy projects for further guidance.

b) Providing evidence on the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy

Pregnant women can often be bombarded with do’s and don’ts and may receive conflicting advice or minimal information on alcohol and pregnancy.

LDATs can be a resource for community organisations by providing them with evidence and data on the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy to help combat the mixed messages women may hear in the media and through their social circles.

Providing clear, evidence-based facts on the impact and effects of alcohol consumption in pregnancy is important. Information should be aligned with the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risksfrom Drinking Alcohol. The guidelines state that maternal alcohol consumption can harm the developing or breastfeeding baby, and recommend that for women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, not drinking is the safest option[6].

LDATs can provide advice and support to help community organisations to determine a course of action for delivering quality Alcohol and Pregnancy projects, such as delivering awareness raising campaigns to debunk commonly held myths around alcohol consumption during pregnancy in the community.

See Section 5: More Information for links to reputable sources of information around alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and Section 3d Supporting community organisations with communication. For guidance on gathering reliable information view the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s Building successful Local Drug Action Teams: A practical guide – see Tool 1: Identifying alcohol and drug issues.

Useful resources:

c) Linking community organisations to quality programs

A key role of LDATs is to link schools to quality Alcohol and Pregnancy programs, which may include:

Support your partners to get a small win on the board, in order to build momentum and a sense of accomplishment. This will strengthen their action to prevent alcohol and other drug harms off to a positive start.

See Section 2a: Existing or new intervention for links to existing, evidence-informed Alcohol and Pregnancy projects in Australia.

d) Supporting community organisations with communication

Communication around Alcohol and Pregnancy is important, and if done poorly, may lead to poor uptake of projects and community misunderstanding due to people being ill informed about the purpose, content and outcomes/benefits of the projects.

Your group can support community organisations with communication. This may include helping groups to develop promotional materials, promoting projects and providing a sounding board on how to frame and communicate different activities.

Key considerations when communicating Alcohol and Pregnancy projects:

  • Focus on raising awareness of projects, how the projects can help people and where people can find them.
  • Ensure all communication is inclusive. Alcohol and Pregnancy projects are targeted to pregnant women and their partners, family and friends, and couples planning on having children – but are relevant for the entire community.
  • Be culturally sensitive and ensure the language is relevant to the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the local community
  • Focus on de-bunking commonly held myths about alcohol consumption in pregnancy (e.g. “everything in moderation” does not apply to alcohol in pregnancy. Any alcohol you drink will pass through the placenta to your baby)
  • Use “person-centred” language focusing on the person, not their substance use
  • Focus on the damage that alcohol can do – rather than blaming the pregnant woman
  • Address the reasons that women in the community drink while pregnant.
  • Be respectful, positive and supportive. Avoid language that may be perceived as judgemental and that may incite or perpetuate the social stigma associated with the consumption of alcohol in pregnancy.
  • Ensure consistency with the Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol [7]
  • Focus on the positives: Alcohol and Pregnancy projects deliver benefits for children, parents and the broader community.

Refer to Section 2b: Critical considerations for the delivery of Alcohol and Pregnancy projects for further guidance.

Useful resources:

e) Promoting collaboration between community organisations

LDATs have a key role in facilitating productive partnerships in the community. Collaboration between community organisations may focus on:

  • Delivering community-wide awareness raising campaigns and education programs.
  • Building supportive and inclusive healthcare services to reduce stigma and increase health seeking behaviour. Research has demonstrated that pregnant women with alcohol misuse issues are much less likely to engage in treatment due to social stigma and feelings of guilt. Facilitating safe and supportive healthcare services is a key goal in making pregnant women feel comfortable and confident enough to seek treatment and support.
  • Helping to create a culture where the harm caused by drinking during pregnancy is fully understood and pregnant women do not feel pressured to drink.
  • Creating strong community referral networks. Working with healthcare service providers to facilitate referral pathways for women and couples who are planning pregnancy, or who are pregnant will strengthen your community’s response to this issue.

See Section 2d Working with community partners for further guidance on engaging with community partners.


[7] FASDHub Australia

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Please get in touch to find out more about the program