Health Education Workshop for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant mothers who live in Geraldton, Western Australia about the influence of alcohol on babies and children.
Population and Health issue
According to the 2016 Census, there were 3740 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (ATSI) living in the Geraldton area of Western Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistic [ABS], 2018a). The percentage of the female were 50.5% and 49.5% were male (ABS, 2018a). ATSI children aged 0-14 yeas were 34.5%, which indicates a relatively young community.
Approximately 36.7% of ATSI people were attending a primary school and 4.8 % were attending tertiary or technical institution (ABS, 2018a). The census reports that 14.4% completed Year 12 as their highest level of education (ABS, 2018a). ATSI peoples who used english as a spoken language at home was 87.4% (ABS, 2018a)
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS 2014-15), report showed that 30% of ATSI peoples over the age of 15 were exceeding the single occasion risk guidelines for alcohol consumption, which is more than a certain number of standard drinks on one single occasion (AIHW 2019a). Also, the report showed that 1 in 5 ATSI people (18.8%) consumed more that 11 standard drinks at least once a month (AIHW, 2019a). This rate was 6.8% times the rate of non- Indigenous populations (AIHW, 2019a).
Alcohol consumption in the ATSI community is notably higher, 1303 per 100,000 compared to165 per 100,000 for the non-Indigenous population (AIHW, 2019a). Consuming alcohol during pregnancy is linked to serious conditions affecting child growth and development (AIHW, 2019a). Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders (FASD) is the term that describes delayed intellectual, behavioural, neurological and physical development due to excessive exposure to alcohol during embryonic life (Ralph, 2017). FASD prevalence in the Western Australian population is 0.26 per 1,000 birth (Mutch, Watkins & Bower, 2015). However, the prevalence of FASD in ATSI peoples is 4.08 per 1,000 which represents 89% of all FASD cases in WA (Mutch, Watkins & Bower, 2015). The percentage of ATSI mothers who drank alcohol during pregnancy declined from 20% in 2008 to 9.8% in 2014-15. However, the risk is highly significant among women who is chronically alcoholic (NATSISS, 2016. Craft et al., 2015). According to national guidelines for pregnancy care (Australian Department of Health, 2019), there is no safe limit of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. FASD came to public and government attentio
when Western Australian researchers conducted a study in the town of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region (Fitzpatrick et al., 2015). The study showed that one in eight of ATSI children born between 2002-2003 suffered from FASD (Fitzpatrick et al., 2015). This was the highest percentage on the world in one geographic area (Fitzpatrick et al., 2015). Furthermore, lack of health education was highlighted when over half of the 127 mothers who were interviewed for the study were unaware of the serious effects of alcohol on their unborn babies (Fitzpatrick et al., 2015).
The aim of the project is to provide education to ATSI pregnant mothers about the influence of alcohol use during pregnancy on the their babies and children during pregnancy, thereby empowering them to make healthier lifestyle choices and better habits during pregnancy. Also, it will provide them with life long knowledge and self awareness by increasing their health literacy about the effects of alcohol on pregnancy. The project aligns with the Ottawa Charters for health promotion through education by attending workshops (McMurray & Clendon 2014).Then, it will encourage the participants to be engaged in a 20 minute activity enabling them to brainstorm the effect of alcohol on a child’s mental, behavioural, physical wellbeing.
In Australia, the Alcohol Policy was developed by the Royal Australian College of Physicians and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists in 2016 to highlight the dangerous effects of alcohol in the community. In addition, it suggested some of points and recommendations to reduce the harm of alcohol in the ATSI community. Also, it focuses on the changes of rules and regulations at the government levels and provide the health professionals with the knowledge that is required in order to be able to conduct diagnostic screening tests. The policy suggested some points to reduce the risk of alcohol consumption in particular within the ATSI community. In fact, implementing these rules, help to keep Fitzroy Crossing and many other small towns in different regions dry from alcohol which helps to reduce the risk of FASD in the ATSI community. Since FASD is incurable, the role of education is essential in both community and individual levels. However, due to the complexity of FASD, the prevention required several pathways to ensure all the aspects were addressed. On the other hand, involvement of the ATSI community in prevention of FASD has not been discussed and was