Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a lifelong condition caused by consumption of alcohol whilst pregnant which results in the infant having permanent brain damage. This often happens even before the woman knows she is pregnant. 
The Aboriginal elders in the remote Fitzroy Valley in the Northeast of Western Australia requested support from Dr James Fitzpatrick, a local paediatrician, as they did not want their grandchildren to have the same issues with FASD as their children. Dr James, as he is affectionately known by the children, established PATCHES Paediatrics (PATCHES) and, working collaboratively with the Aboriginal people, set up a pilot study.
Incidence of FASD in the Fitzroy Valley
In the early stages of the study, 19% of infants in the Fitzroy Valley were diagnosed with FASD, utilising the co-ordinated team assessment approach. The PATCHES intervention model was unique because it crossed traditional service boundaries, co-ordinating local community, health, disability, child protection, education, police and justice to achieve results.
50% Reduction of women taking alcohol in pregnancy
This collaborative approach and having Aboriginal people supporting the community has led to the successful decrease of alcohol consumption from 65% to 15% over 8-years for Aboriginal (First Nations People) & non-indigenous pregnant women.
This approach is successfully being utilised in a limited number of other areas in the Kimberley, Pilbara and Perth, however funding is very limited as only children with an intellectual or physical disability as well as FASD, receive funding.
To help more children and their families in another area of WA receive these specialised services, with the support and collaboration of local people, the model needs to be tailored to the local population and supports replicated.
After consultations with Aboriginal people, WACHS, and a number of local agencies, we have chosen to support a community in the Leonora area, 236 Kms from Kalgoorlie.  The local community groups have been consulted and are keen to work with Rotary and PATCHES in ‘Making FASD History” in their community.
Rotary involvement – Moving forward in Leonora/Goldfields to Make FASD History
The Rotary Club of Osborne Park, in collaboration with a number of other WA Rotary Clubs and Rotary District 9455’s Aboriginal Reference Group, set up a Project Management Committee and established a pilot project in January 2019 to ‘Making Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder History’ in the remote town of Leonora, where many professional people have reported that there is a high incidence of children who appear to have FASD.  Rotary’s is working with PATCHES and the local people to prevent, diagnose and support up to 160 children with FASD and their families.
Community participation, including the employment of a local Aboriginal support worker, is a key part of the project. If successful in this community, then, with local involvement, similar supports could be expanded to other Goldfields communities with local involvement.
The members of the Project Management Committee are:
                      Louise Hancock (Chair & Past President Rotary Club of Osborne Park)
Brian Hancock (Treasurer and Past President Rotary Club of Osborne Park) –
Bruce Dufty (Chair of D9455 Aboriginal Reference Group, Rotary Club of Western Endeavour)
Dawn Brodie (Rotary Club of Osborne Park & Member of D9455 Aboriginal Reference Group)
Bob de Bijl (Rotary Club of Mandurah)
Darren Wallace (Representing the Rotary Clubs of Kalgoorlie & Boulder, Rotary Club of Boulder)
Fiona McFarlane (Rotary Club of Kalamunda)
A number of Rotary Clubs in Western Australia are raising funds to extend this support in WA. providing a service customised for the Goldfields, focusing on the remote town of Leonora.
The Rotary ‘Making FASD History’ project is planned to operate for 2 years at a cost of $525,000 in the Leonora/Goldfields area. No Government funding is available for this initiative, although we have been able to tap into Medicare (Australian Government Health Insurance) to meet Dr Fitzpatrick’s salary costs (his salary costs are separate to the Project Budget). Rotary and Dr Fitzpatrick have developed a plan to ensure ongoing funding of the project after two years, should it be demonstrated to be a success by independent researchers.
The project was launched in June 2017 and Rotary has already successfully raised 75% of the budget (July 2019).   Rotary International contributed a substantial portion of the funds in the form of an International Global Grant – leaving the Rotary Club of Osborne Park’s Project Management Committee with the task of implementing strategies to raise the remaining 20% from other corporate and community sources.
Opportunity to speak
If you would like a guest speaker or would like to discuss the Rotary “Making FASD History” project further, please contact:
Bruce Dufty – Chairperson of the Rotary Aboriginal Reference Group (0421 735 372) or
Dawn Brodie – Member of the Rotary Aboriginal Reference Group (0432 988 632)
Donate now
The Making FASD History planning committee are hoping to be able to commence this project by July 2018 – however we need your help.   Help us achieve our fundraising target and Making FASD History by placing a Tax deductible donation now. 
Louise Hancock
Chairperson: Rotary ‘Making FASD History’ project team
Past President Rotary Club of Osborne Park
Ph +61 423 169 226
Bruce Dufty
Member of the Rotary ‘Making FASD History’ project team, and
Chairperson of Rotary District 9455’s Aboriginal Reference Group
Ph +61 421 735 372
Dawn Brodie
Member of the Rotary ‘Making FASD History’ project team.
Committee member of Rotary District 9455’s Aboriginal Reference Group
Ph: 0432 988 632
Committee member of Rotary District 9455’s Aboriginal Reference Group
Ph: 0432 988 632
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS - Participating Organisations and Sponsors:
- Rotary Club of Osborne Park (primary support Club)
- Rotary Club of Boulder
- Rotary Club of Kalamunda
- Rotary Club of Western Endeavour
- Rotary Club of Mandurah
- Rotary District 9455’s Aboriginal Reference Group
- Rotary District 9455
- Albany Children’s Orchid Foundation
- Stan Perron Foundation
- Rotary International Global Grant
- Other Private Citizens
More information
ABC            http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-14/family-finally-gets-answers-from-fasd-diagnosis/9326922