Youth detainees with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder need specialised care

If youth detainees with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder are going to get the help they need, we first have to know who they are, Shadow Minister for Families, Youth and Community Services Elizabeth Kikkert said.

Today in the ACT Legislative Assembly Mrs Kikkert will call on the ACT government to screen all detainees for FASD upon entering Bimberi Youth Justice Centre in order to provide them with specialised care.

“Research shows a strong correlation between FASD and kids ending up in detention.

“A young person with FASD is 19 times more likely to get locked up, and to be hurt by the experience.

“It’s no secret that kids in Canberra’s youth detention centre are getting assaulted at an alarming rate, and FASD increases this risk. These kids then come out of lock-up more likely to assault others. For the safety of everyone involved, we need to stop this cycle.

“But if we’re going to help these kids, we first have to know who they are.

“The government is already required to screen all detainees in Bimberi for physical or mental health needs or risks. This is good, but not good enough. To better help kids, the government should also screen for FASD.

“The government’s Blueprint for Youth Justice commits to providing support to kids based on their individual needs. Young people with FASD have very specific needs, and we need to include those in their case management plans.

“When screening was done at a youth detention facility in WA, more than one-third of the kids were diagnosed with FASD.

“The situation in the ACT may be different to that in WA, but we won’t know unless we try,” Mrs Kikkert concluded.