The DrinkWise FASD Awareness Program aims to create greater awareness among Australians that FASD is a preventable disorder and reaffirm the risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding. We recognise that education is key to reducing the incidence of FASD and seek to raise awareness and educate the community through our program.
Incorporating broad based and targeted awareness measures, the DrinkWise FASD Awareness Program ensures this important message reaches not just those women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, but also friends and family who are supporting them.
In the Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol (‘the Guidelines’), the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) advises that to prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol. For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby.
Drinking while pregnant can cause FASD, a term used to describe a range of conditions that can result from brain damage caused by alcohol exposure before birth. Other effects of alcohol exposure during pregnancy can include miscarriage, still birth, premature birth and low birth weight.
Despite improving trends in women abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy, FASD prevalence data continues to emerge, particularly in at-risk communities. DrinkWise has developed tailored materials to better engage with audiences throughout Australia.
The DrinkWise FASD Awareness Program is funded by:
- the Federal Government, via the Department of Health
- industry funds provided by Australian Grape & Wine, Lion, Coca-Cola Amatil, Coopers and CUB
- DrinkWise, via its contributors.
Most recently, DrinkWise has worked with Sally Pearson (Olympic champion and new mother) and Associate Professor Luke Burchill (Australia’s first Indigenous cardiologist) to promote the importance of abstaining from alcohol when planning a pregnancy, while pregnant and during breastfeeding, as part of International FASD Awareness Day (9 September 2020).
The program also includes posters and brochures, informing those women who may be planning a pregnancy and expectant mothers of this important message and the importance of seeking further advice from medical professionals. The posters and brochures have been placed in medical practices.
Feedback from medical practice staff have shown that the purpose and materials resonate, with 100% of those surveyed agreeing that it is important to educate the community about alcohol and pregnancy. With one quarter of medical centre staff also reporting that as a result of the video messaging, alcohol consumption during pregnancy had been raised by their patients, it is clear the message resonates.
(Note: the posters in the following image were developed before the Guidelines were revised. These resources have since been updated (see below) to reflect the revised Guidelines and are available on this page.)
Directly targeting consumers via parenting sites, pregnancy magazines and brochures in pregnancy bags issued to new mothers in hospital allows these important health messages to be delivered in relevant and timely way. A partnership with Mamamia also allows DrinkWise to amplify this important message via one of the most well-known parenting websites in Australia.
The Federal Government provided funding for DrinkWise to produce educational material to increase FASD awareness, to be displayed and shown in rural and regional medical practice waiting rooms across Australia.
Deborah Mailman and Aaron Pedersen feature in the educational advertisements. In her video, Deb reflects on her personal experiences during pregnancy and explains why not drinking is the safest option if planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding. Aaron reflects on the importance of ensuring partners, family members and friends support women to abstain from alcohol, to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
(Note: the following videos were developed before the Guidelines were revised. They are currently being updated.)
Extended versions of these videos have been produced for school programs, to educate students about FASD, peer influence and the importance of not drinking alcohol before they turn 18.
FASD, moderation and harm minimisation messages are also integrated into Jam Pakt, a music and health promotion radio program broadcast nationally across community radio networks.
Many of these resources, including the DrinkWise pregnancy and alcohol brochure and videos, are available for use in medical centres and for education programs (free of charge). For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previous DrinkWise alcohol and pregnancy initiatives
Prior to creating the comprehensive FASD Awareness Program, DrinkWise worked with the alcohol industry to develop point-of-sale information for customers. The goal of this initiative was to inform and empower women to make healthy lifestyle choices when planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as highlighting consumer information labels on alcoholic products, which advise women that it’s safest not to drink while pregnant.
The national initiative included a variety of radio messages featuring medical experts Dr Alec Walsh and DrinkWise Ambassador Dr Andrew Rochford. Advertising was extended across 600 licensed venues as well as shopping centres nationwide. Over one million brochures were also distributed across more than 3,500 liquor stores.
Participating retailers included Aldi, BWS, Cellarbrations, Dan Murphy’s, First Choice, IGA Liquor, Liquorland, The Bottle-O, Thirsty Camel, Woolworths Liquor and Vintage Cellars. The Federal Department of Health and Ageing, under the Gillard Labor government, provided funding for this education initiative.