The Adelaide Metro South LDAT is building on the success of its first Community Action Plan (CAP), to minimise harms from alcohol in the region. The LDAT’s goal is to reduce the incidence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) within the City of Onkaparinga. Working with Australia’s leading FASD organisation NoFASD, they’re harnessing the power of education to achieve it.
The LDAT recognises that it is the responsibility of many groups within a community to support alcohol-free pregnancies, not just parents. With this in mind, they’re taking a whole-of-community approach to the issue of FASD.
Protective factors against alcohol and other drug harms for young people include evidence-based drug education and access to information on avoiding alcohol in pregnancy.
Liz Hillyer, Portfolio Manager at LDAT lead organisation Junction, explained the importance of reaching young people with facts about FASD.
“In the past, there has been a lot of misinformation about alcohol and pregnancy. NoFASD is clear– no amount of alcohol is safe. It’s a critical message for young people and the whole community,” she said.
Delivering FASD harm reduction information in a classroom setting seemed like a logical next step for Adelaide Metro South LDAT. The first CAP targeted early learning and support service workers, to arm them with information to use in their practice with parents, particularly young women.
“It stemmed from the success of our first CAP. Our goal is no babies born in Onkaparinga with FASD. We started with early learning educators, then thought how else can we reach out and ensure this goal is met? With the LDAT partners, we decided the next cohort was schools and students,” Liz said.
Initial face-to-face FASD education modules were planned for delivery in the classroom setting. However, due to COVID-19, the LDAT pivoted their approach and created online FASD education modules with the help of NoFASD Australia.
The modules will be utilised by teachers in four schools in the Adelaide Metro South area. They will be delivered as part of the Year 9 and 10 Health and Wellbeing curriculum in the latter part of 2020. The long-term goal is to embed the modules into the schools’ curriculum, so education is ongoing for future year levels.
Sue O’Brien, the Project Officer at Junction, explains that prior to the modules being delivered in schools, they’re being tested to ensure they’re suitable for the audience.
“A group of young people will complete the training. They will give us feedback on how it sounds to them. The core content won’t change, but if extra explanations are needed for particular terms or concepts, then we’ll make edits so that it’s easy to understand,” said Sue.
The goal is to get the training out as quickly as possible, for Terms 3 and 4. It’s a busy time and given COVID, the timeframe is tight. The LDAT is pushing to get it done as soon as possible.
“Once we have presented to one school, it will be easy to get more schools on board. There’s no reason it can’t continue to extend from that, and I can support the teachers,” said Sue.
However, Sue recognises that the continued support of NoFASD will also be crucial because of the sensitive nature of the topic.
“It can be a tricky discussion for some people as there is stigma around the issue. If we have good conversations with the teachers and link them to the fantastic NoFASD web resources, then they know where to go to get answers,” said Sue.
As well as extending the online modules to more local schools, there are plans to deliver the training to a program for dads. Beyond the current action plan, the Adelaide Metro South LDAT has already begun thinking about what the next step may look like.
“We’ll consult with the steering committee and with people working in the field. We’d like to bring hospitals on board, and find out what information they are giving out to parents. We also have a link to the LDAT on Kangaroo Island, where we could expand classroom module delivery,” said Liz.
LDAT partners: Junction (lead and auspice), Anglicare SA, City of Onkaparinga and Department of Education, South Australia.