The Rotary Club of Osborne Park has nominated Bruce Dufty for the WA Council of Social Services (WACOS) Community Service Excellence Award.  
Bruce is a dynamic Chairperson of the Rotary Aboriginal Reference Group and a key member of the Rotary Making Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) History’ Group and key Community Liaison person in the group’s work in the remote town of Leonora.  
Rotary undertook to initiate changes through their project Rotary Making Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) History’ which commenced 3 years ago; following reports from a number of key agencies that indicated there was a high incidence of children with FASD in this community.  The project has proved this to be correct with over 25 % of children assessed so far as having FASD.
Bruce is a Community Change Agent - with his background in psychology and community development, Bruce was involved from the beginning in developing a relationship with Dr James Fitzpatrick and his team from PATCHES Paediatrics Inc, along with making connections with WA Country Health Services in Kalgoorlie.
Bruce also has extensive experience in working with Aboriginal people and over two years met and developed relationships with Aboriginal Elders and Leaders from the 16 language groups in the area. Through these extensive discussions he heard comment as had been heard before in other geographical areas of WA - ‘We don’t want our Grandkids to end up like our kids; on drugs, alcohol, in prison or dead.’  Hence Bruce developed a plan of how to move forwards through the community by linking with as many people of influence as possible in Leonora, from the Shire President, to the School Principal, from staff from  Aboriginal Health to the local Youth Group and from all business and shop owners to the publicans and local people of Leonora. Bruce returns to Leonora with his wife every 6-8 week. He is a volunteer and donated his time, all his costs are funded through Rotary.
He developed the link between the local school and PATCHES Paediatrics Inc so the Paediatrician, psychologist and speech pathologist and occupational therapist could work to prevent, diagnose and support children with FASD and their families.
Through this work he has initiated and guided community change:
  • He liaised with the work places so that in a town that initially only employed 17 aboriginal people at the start of the project, now 34 are employed. Bruce is currently writing to politicians (Federal, State and Local Government) to encourage them to consider tailoring Government policies to remote areas so that there are incentives to motivate Aboriginal People to pursue their aspirations.
  • He has linked with local Aboriginal people and organisations to identify a local Aboriginal Therapy Assistant to assist the team and continue the PATCHES work in between their visits, which is a key part of the project.
  • Bruce has a gentle way of leading and has worked with Aboriginal People to help them set up and develop their own Leonora Aboriginal Residents Community Group, so that they can have a collective voice to help their families and future generations.  He has  guided  their  decision making and  helped  them identify  different  models of leadership that  are  working in other  Australian communities.  Their agenda for future topics includes Housing issues, School attendance, Alcohol consumption and other topics that are used by aboriginal corporations in Alice Springs and elsewhere.
  • Bruce has met with some hotel owners some of which are promoting “responsible drinking measures” and a “voluntary curfew” This led to a limit of sales of take-out alcohol, ending at 7.30pm.
  • His links with the local Youth Group have helped additional programs such as a hip-hop dancing group and horse riding .  He also assists them to gain some external funds and is  negotiating  with the  Shire  council to provide them additional space.   
  • The Youth Group has been a principal source of improved responsible behaviour in the town and Bruce is now helping Rotary and the Youth Group to work together to submit funding applications for the Youth Centre’s existing and extended operations.   The  youth  group  has   been  subcontracted (by  Rotary)  to provide “Relationships and safe sex programs” and “Social relationships and Social Wellbeing programs with funding from the Healthways Grant.  These are commencing in September
  • Bruce recognises the need to prevent FASD and is working with a local Rotarian, the Leonora community and a film department at a school in Kalgoorlie to make five short films to increase community awareness of FASD.
There is no simple measure to prevent or cure Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder - it takes a village to grow a child. Through Bruce’s leadership and community approach, more women and their families now recognise the effect alcohol can have on their unborn child. The legacy Bruce will leave in Leonora community is a greater community understanding of Aboriginal people, recognition of community needs that everyone has including the need for everyone to have jobs and work in meaningful areas in the area. Most importantly the need to recognise Making FASD History takes the whole town of Leonora to support their own people in their community.
Through Rotary and the work of Bruce Dufty we are making a difference in a remote aboriginal community and helping them to transform their community and Make FASD History.