Red Shoes Rock Thanks Neroli Endacott as a Pioneer in FASD Education Thank You!
Neroli is renowned for caring for over one hundred disadvantaged children, including her notable (diagnostic) recognition of children with FASD.
Initially, Neroli struggled to get support from local doctors as most did not believe her ‘stories’ or her personal “diagnosis” of the children in her care. This lack of knowledge on our home soil in Australia inspired Neroli’s goal to raise awareness of FASD.
In the beginning Neroli made phone calls to Alberta in Canada asking for any information she could get to assist and help the children she cared for. It has now been over twenty years since Neroli had her first ‘FASD child diagnosed at birth with distinctive facial features’. This gave Neroli great motivation, strength and determination to keep fighting for support for all children effected.
Neroli had the monumental task of educating people and trying to implement her mantra of “Drinking when pregnant is like playing Russian Roulette”. The introductory shocked many, including Neroli’s family. She was hounding doctors and relentlessly knocking on doors desperately trying to find a ‘Professional’ to assist her. Most thought that she was crazy herself considering such a suggestion about alcohol and its possible effect on unborn children.
Eventually people saw this issue for what it was, and they learnt not to question as they saw the work she was achieving with the children in her care.
In 2006 Neroli made an appointment with the Hospital Clinic in the hope someone there may know about FASD or would at least listen to her.
The Doctor assigned was Paediatrician, Dr Doug Shelton, who pleasantly asked why she was there. Neroli responded with: “My Foster Children have FASD” Dr Doug’s initial response was: “What’s that?”
Thankfully, Doug listened to Neroli as she detailed with confidence, her children’s problems with FASD. Doug was aware of FASD in babies born with facial features but not so of the devastating results alcohol caused to those without facial features.
Doug, being a very dedicated man, took the next step and tried to find somewhere in Australia to get training for FASD but to his shock there was nowhere.
Queensland Health, to everyone’s gratitude, came to the party sending Doug and six colleagues to Vancouver, Canada to be trained in how to diagnose FASD. In 2014 Doug and his Team started the first FASD Clinic in Australia on the Gold Coast. Part of the Team includes Shelli Hastings a Family Psychologist who also supported Neroli and her foster children. Shelli and Natalie Turvey, another Psychologist stated that they learned and recognised FASD in other of their patients after spending time with Neroli and her experiences she shared plus having Neroli’s foster children as clients.
Stepping back in time, Darren, a Manager of Children’s Services in Alberta, Canada, informed Neroli about a lady in Adelaide, Sue Miers, who was very informative on FASD.
Neroli contacted Sue and the two quickly became great friends and colleagues and remain so to this day. Neroli refers to Sue as her Mentor.
Neroli became active on line and created a web site in a single night, drawing a picture of a lady saying no to a drink. She also advised on her site about the real risks surrounding drinking when pregnant and that it can cause FASD which is permanent brain damage. Neroli wanted to make an impact and she added another drawing of a baby in a wine glass which was frowned upon by others who quickly asked for it to be removed. Neroli was actively trying to hit home and get the message out. The web site was to advertise Sue’s visit in 2006. Twelve years ago. http://www.fasdgoldcoast.org/
How things have changed since then.
Sue travelled from Adelaide to the Gold Coast to assist Neroli in raising awareness of FASD in the Gold Coast community. Neroli became actively involved with the NOFASD group and took on a role as a Board Member, representing them for Queensland.
At age 74, in 2018, Neroli continues to provide support to many families raising children with suspected FASD sharing her many years of knowledge and experience. She still often offers her time as respite to assist families with their own children in need. Neroli has cared for children from babies to young adults and realises the need for an early intervention.
As a volunteer, Neroli has made presentations at both men’s and woman’s groups, she has started a local group to raise awareness with Jann Stuckey MP – the then Shadow Minister for Child Safety, Disability Services and Mental Health and she is often making home visits showing FASD DVD’s to parents and children. The home visits gave many family’s the information they need to understand FASD and ask for support from doctors and teachers.
Neroli and her FASD Foster Daughter assisted Dr Doug Shelton at meetings and seminars explaining FASD to professionals in the hospital. Doug and Neroli spoke to Psychiatrists together to inform them of what to expect dealing with young people with FASD, prior to the children becoming their patient. Doug & Shelli also did the same. All part of raising awareness for FASD. Neroli – always on her “soap box” speaks to everyone and anyone whenever she gets the chance. Policemen, Police woman, Teachers, School Principals, Sports Clubs, people in all sorts of jobs and positions besides of course – the Doctors and all Professionals connected.
Neroli has often spoken on TV and local Radio, taken part in recording and distributing DVD’s regarding FASD in Australia. She has presented in TV programs, SBS Insight “Drinking When Pregnant” and “Hidden Harm” on ABC Australia http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/hidden-harm-promo/6896966 Re: Gold Coast FASD Clinic – First in Australia – Neroli has the utmost respect, admiration and support for Dr Doug Shelton and what he has achieved and states she got to a stage where she never believed she would see this in her life time and is so happy Doug believed in her.
Doug and his Team, including Shelli Hastings are now assisting and supporting hundreds of families understand FASD and having the opportunity of FASD diagnosed here on the Gold Coast is a dream come true for Neroli.
Neroli provides credible and up-to-date evidence-based information to local doctors, thanks to NOFASD.
Neroli’s selfless generosity of spirit and dedication never falters and we are all blessed to have her bring this serious matter to the attention of Australian mums to be and the medical field. Her continued dedication, assisting, supporting and raising awareness for FASD is invaluable.