Supporting nine months of sober
■ On the ninth day, of the ninth month, at nine minutes past nine, the community in Roebourne joined thousands around the world to pause and reflect on the devastating effects of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
This symbolic gesture represents the nine months of pregnancy, and aims to raise awareness about the effects of consuming alcohol when pregnant.
Mawarnkarra Health Service program manager Elaine Laraia said the time provided women the opportunity to consider an alcohol-free pregnancy, and share this prevention message across the community. “With more than 40 staff, individuals and government agencies attending it has been a great turnout,” she said.
“We have had a range of activities and resources available, such as videos, pamphlets and standard drink demonstrations, followed by a community barbecue.
“At the moment Roebourne is being positive and would like to lead in terms of acknowledging issues like FASD in the community.”
Registered midwife Paula Doherty had a unique way to explain the idea behind FASD Awareness Day to the community, using a short white rope to demonstrate the umbilical connection between mother and her unborn child.
“To heighten international awareness of the disorder, they came up with the idea of the reef knot,” she said. “When you do a reef knot, the circle within represents the pregnant uterus, or the unborn babies’ brain. The reef knot represents the community supporting pregnant women in not drinking... the tighter it is, the tighter and stronger the community.”
FASD can be debilitating for many sufferers who grow up with a variety of conditions including facial abnormalities, growth deficiencies, skeletal deformities, organ deformities, central nervous system handicaps and behavioural problems in later life.
Child health nurse Larissa Smart said increasing awareness of the vast spectrum of disorders associated with FASD was crucial to better diagnosis and treatment programs.
The community in Roebourne celebrating International FASD Awareness Day.