Marulu FASD Prevention Strategy

What is this research about?




For the story of how it all began and what is currently happening in the Fitzroy Valley read the Marulu Strategy Newsletter



There is a humanitarian crisis in the Fitzroy Valley region of remote North-western Australia, which has amongst the highest rates of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in the world. However Fitzroy Valley communities have shown strong leadership and commitment to tackling FASD through the initiation of a comprehensive and multifaceted program that has the bold goal to "Make FASD History" by driving down rates of drinking in pregnancy.


We are responding to the documented high rates of FASD in the Fitzroy Valley with a targeted community-wide prevention strategy. We will:

  • map and expand existing FASD prevention initiatives in the Fitzroy Valley
  • translate internationally evidence-based FASD prevention strategies into high impact activity at the community level
  • develop local strategies into scalable models in other communities
  • converge the local impact with a National Action Plan for FASD



This project is funded by the Western Australian Government Department of Aboriginal Affairs and philanthropic funding from the McCusker Foundation.



Who is conducting this research?


Chief Investigators

  • Dr James Fitzpatrick: Paediatrician and Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western Australia
  • Professor Jonathan Carapetis: Director, Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western Australia
  • Mr Glenn Pearson: Manager Aboriginal Research Development, Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western Australia
  • Professor Jane Latimer:  Deputy Director Musculoskeletal Division, Head Paediatric Program Musculoskeletal Division, The George Institute for Global Health, The University of Sydney
  • Professor Mike Daube AO: Director of the Public Health Advocacy Institute and the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, Professor of Health Policy, Curtin University
  • Dr Rochelle Watkins: Epidemiologist and Senior Research Fellow, Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western Australia
  • Ms June Oscar AO: Head of Marninwarntikura Women's Resource Centre, Chairwoman of the Kimberley Language Resource Centre
  • Ms Maureen Carter: CEO Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services
  • Professor John Bolton: Senior Regional Paediatrician Kimberley Health region, Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics, The University of Newcastle


This work will be undertaken through a partnership between Telethon Kids Institute and two leading organisations in the Fitzroy Valley: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services (Nindilingarri) and Marninwarntikura Fitzroy Women's Resource Center (Marninwarntikura).


The Marulu FASD Prevention Strategy work will be developed through community consultation and underpinned by the background and formative research.


For more information contact Dr James Fitzpatrick  



What will we be doing?

The Prevention Strategy will be implemented in three phases:


Phase 1. The first year of the project will focus on the design of the Prevention Strategy including community consultation and the development and pre-testing of the communication campaign materials.


Phase 2. The second and third year of the project will be the implementation phase which will see the delivery of the communication campaign over three waves.


Phase 3. This phase involves evaluation and dissemination activities that will extend across the life of the project, and culminate in a surge of research translation in the final year.



Benefits from this research

The outcomes of this research will serve to benefit the Australian and Fitzroy Valley communities by: improving the health, quality of life and social and economic potential of the next generation of Fitzroy Valley children, and thus the fabric of the community itself; and identifying practical strategies that can be implemented elsewhere in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities to reduce and eliminate FASD.