EQUIPPING: South Burnett professionals attend the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder workshop in Cherbourg led by University of Sydney pediatrics Professor Elizabeth Elliott on Tuesday October 9.
EQUIPPING: South Burnett professionals attend the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder workshop in Cherbourg led by University of Sydney pediatrics Professor Elizabeth Elliott on Tuesday October 9. Jessica McGrath

Cherbourg begins fight against disorder

THE workshop was only the beginning for Cherbourg, as community members plan to spread awareness about FASD.

Cherbourg Health Action Group member Lilian Gray attended the four day Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder workshop at the Cherbourg Ration Shed from October 8 to 11.

The workshop, run by the University of Sydney was the result of years of connections with the Cherbourg health group, and Ms Gray said they would not leave it there.

"We need to get it out there, we have to look after our young women,” she said.

Workshop attendees learnt what the effects of consuming alcohol during pregnancy were, and were equipped with the skills to start to recognise FASD.

"I thought I knew a lot about it, but I'm learning a lot more,” Ms Gray said.

She was joined by fellow community members, as well as health workers, justice workers and teachers and social workers at the workshop.

"We all need to be educated on it,” she said.

"We don't want our children to grow up with a disability because of alcohol.”

With those working in the justice and education system more aware of FASD and its symptoms, they can better understand and interact with some of the children they work with.

"Going through life, these children need a lot of help,” Ms Gray said.

The preventable disorder is prevalent in many Australian communities where there is lots of drinking.

With this increased awareness of FASD in the community, Ms Gray said they can start to decrease the disorder by providing support to mothers and fathers to be, as well as giving children with undiagnosed FASD the treatment they need.

She advises anyone planning on having a family to not drink at all, as some of the FASD-caused brain damage occurs in the early terms of the pregnancy.

"We've got to from now on, protect our unborn children,” Ms Gray said.

Through events like the workshop, the Cherbourg Health Action Group hopes the stigma surrounding FASD will be reduced.