Drinking for two - stopping the harm from alcohol in pregnancy.

A success story - a community led collaboration with remote indigenous Australia.

Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM


‘Our children are our greatest asset’ says Professor Elizabeth Elliott, paediatrician at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, Westmead, and Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Sydney. Yet many children suffer brain damage even before they are born, through exposure to alcohol in the womb.

A highly regarded expert in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD), Professor Elliott says alcohol consumption can cause a range of birth defects and lifelong problems with learning, development, and behaviour.

Professor Elliott believes FASD is a ‘preventable tragedy’ that in some high risk communities has been described as a ‘humanitarian crisis’.

In her lecture, she will describe the features of FASD and the efforts currently being made around Australia to prevent alcohol use in pregnancy and FASD. She will also speak about how to identify and assist children with FASD and how to support their parents and carers. She will highlight the need to restrict access to alcohol through legislative changes and to change drinking behaviours in Australian communities.

About the Speaker

Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM

Professor Elliott has been part of an ongoing project in Western Australia addressing the diagnosis and prevention of FASD. This project was initiated by female Aboriginal elders, who in 2009 invited a team of researchers from the University of Sydney and the George Institute for Global Health to collaborate with Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre and Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services on this project. Since then she has been working with ‘the courageous women in WA’s remote Fitzroy Valley through the Marilu (‘precious’) and Liliwan (‘the little ones’) projects’. This successful work and the advocacy and education associated with it will be described.

Elizabeth is Founder/Director of the Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit, which facilitates research on rare, debilitating childhood diseases, and instigated development of a national plan for rare diseases. She holds a prestigious Practitioner Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. Since 2005, Elizabeth has been part of a team running education workshops for clinicians in remote Dien Bien Province in Vietnam to address high maternal and child mortality. Community contributions include to the SMILE Foundation, Cure Kids Australia, Steve Waugh Foundation, Women’s College University of Sydney), SCEGGS Darlinghurst, NSW Guides and the Hoc Mai Australia Vietnam Medical Foundation. In 2008 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of her service to paediatrics.

Watch the lecture

Duration 50:51 - Lecture begins at 06:08
Watch on YouTube