RED SHOES ROCK SHOUTS OUT TO SUE MEIRS
Sue’s compassion and voice
helped many around the world.
The week of September 11, 2001, I presented Fetal Alcohol in Australia along with a five-day program for foster carers and adoptive parents on living through allegations. Both issues remain vibrant and alive in our respective countries. When Sue and I met, we were just two mums who tenaciously loved our children and our communities, willing to look at all sides for the truth in preventing and understanding FASD. — Jodee Kulp
NOFASD Australia was founded on the 23rd March 1999 by dynamo Mum, Sue Meirs.
Her personal experiences in caring for a child with FASD and the struggle to find information and appropriate support services in Australia initiated a national organization. This dedicated Mum worked tirelessly, along with the support of a small dedicated group of volunteers, to have FASD recognized as a disability in Australia. Together they have advocated for the rights and interests of people living with FASD and provided information and support to individuals and families at a grassroots level.
Along with a small group of committed volunteers, they named the group “National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Related Disorders (NOFASARD)” and were incorporated in South Australia on the 30th August 1999. This was the first organization advocating for FASD in Australia. The organization was re-named NOFASD Australia in 2013 to remain current with diagnostic terminology.
Sue retired from NOFASD Australia in an official capacity in 2015 but continues to provide voluntary support to the organization in various roles. Her practice-based wisdom as the Parent & Family Support Co-ordinator ensures that NOFASD is able to develop staff, support clients and upskill those working to enhance the lives of individuals and families affected by FASD. Sue also contributes regularly to NOFASD’s social media presence, ensuring that messages about FASD and the importance of alcohol-free pregnancy reach far and wide throughout Australia and the world.
Some of NOFASD Australia’s current projects:
NOFASD Australia provides provide confidential telephone and email support to individuals living with FASD and their parents, carers, family members and service providers. They also provide referral information for FASD services available in each caller’s location.
NOFASD Australia delivers education and training to a wide range of audiences across Australia. The content and format of workshops is tailored according to the level of knowledge in the group and identified interests.
They also offer a Train it Forward FASD Masterclass which is delivered approximately 6 times per year in different cities. This workshop aims to encourage attendees to feel more confident in their knowledge of FASD and share resources, ideas and knowledge with their colleagues and communities. Everybody needs to know more about FASD!
These wallet-sized cards can be given to bystanders when a child experiences a sensory overload in public. This enables parents and care-givers to enlist the support of observers by quietly explaining what is going on and asking for their cooperation, including not staring or becoming involved unless assistance is requested.
NOFASD provides a number of webinars for the community, including those targeted at health professionals, teachers, and parents and carers. NOFASD also provides a free PowerPoint presentation, which can be downloaded from their website, for anyone who wishes to inform and educate others about FASD.
Parent ToolKit – a downloadable guide to help families start the assessment and diagnosis process and seek early intervention.
These fact sheets include information for families seeking a diagnosis, information on FASD across the lifespan, and strategies for supporting children with FASD with a range of cognitive skills.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder: development of consensus referral criteria for specialist diagnostic assessment in Australia. Jul 2014 BMC Pediatrics 14(1):178
Authors: Rochelle E Watkins, Elizabeth J Elliott, Amanda Wilkins, Jane Latimer, Jane Halliday, James P Fitzpatrick, Raewyn C Mutch, Colleen M O’Leary, Lucinda Burns, Anne McKenzie, Heather M Jones, Janet M Payne, Heather D’Antoine, Sue Miers, Elizabeth Russell, Lorian Hayes, Maureen Carter and Carol Bower
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is known to be under-recognised in Australia. The use of standard methods to identify when to refer individuals who may have FASD for specialist assessment could help improve the identification of this disorder. The purpose of this study was to develop referral criteria for use in Australia.