Marulu Strategy - Making FASD History!

Our Patron

June Oscar

 A message from our Patron -  June Oscar

Marulu is a word from my mother tongue, Bunuba. It means precious, worth nurturing. Each child deserves a life where they can be all that they want to be. All our children in the Fitzroy Valley are a vessel carrying a future that will restore our society to its full health and wellbeing. This strategy promises to honour the human rights of our children for today, and for all our tomorrows. It lays the groundwork, and builds the infrastructure for the wraparound supports and care to strengthen our children and their families’ resiliencies to create long-term generational change.

I am honoured to be the patron of the Marulu Strategy, and to present the exciting next step in this work. The Marulu Strategy is a world first. It broke ground when, for the first time, an entire community consented, informed and led a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) prevalence study. With the evidence, we have acted. We have rigorous research partnerships that have united academic institutions and our community to work toward a common goal: Make FASD History. This is visible in the multidisciplinary teams operating in the Fitzroy Valley that continue to diagnose and support families living with FASD. The initial stages of this strategy have given us a body of knowledge that can be translated from academic documents to applied practice. This is evidence owned and held in the hands of community to effect change on the ground.

The next iteration of the Marulu Strategy is a multipronged approach to development that respects the context in which our community lives and works. It acknowledges and builds on our inherent community strengths, which emanate from a time immemorial. Equally, it is responsive to the effects of intergenerational trauma, beginning with European colonisation. This means the strategy operates on several levels. It implements practical, incremental steps in how we establish programs that train and support families to care for children with early life trauma (ELT) and complex needs. Beyond this, in maintaining these approaches, the strategy considers service delivery reform to enable sustained coordination and collaboration among services that span diagnosis, support, and prevention of trauma and complex needs.

Ultimately, the second stage of the strategy is designed to form a shared knowledge among community and service providers about the effects of early life trauma on the mind, body and long-term behaviour. The trauma our communities have sustained has brought into being complex harms, of which FASD is one of the most damaging. With a better understanding of trauma, we will overcome its harmful effects, and make fetal alcohol spectrum disorder history. We will allow our societal strengths to flourish again as we confront, heal and put an end to all forms of harm caused by intergenerational trauma.

We will know we are successful when we see what can happen with the right supports.

June Oscar AO
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,
Australian Human Rights Commission