Media release: PATCHES launches Perth metropolitan FASD clinics

PATCHES Paediatrics has commenced operation of Perth’s first FASD diagnosis and treatment service. Having provided comprehensive multidisciplinary FASD clinics in Kimberley’s Fitzroy Valley since 2014, PATCHES is now offering this service in Perth and outer metropolitan centers, including within the WA Justice system.

Since February 2015 PATCHES Paediatrics delivered ten day-long metropolitan FASD clinics in Mt Lawley, Armadale, and Cannington. A clinic schedule for 2016 has been published via the PATCHES website, and the service is open to receiving referrals from the Justice system, Child Protection Services, Schools and Health services.

Paediatrician and FASD researcher Dr James Fitzpatrick stated that: “PATCHES specialises in improving access to FASD assessment and treatment among young people in hard to reach places, including remote Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley and Pilbara. So applying the PATCHES remote outreach model to the outer metropolitan and Justice system context is a natural extension of our service”.

Dr Fitzpatrick said that: “the key to our model is to simplify a complex process of referral and multidisciplinary assessment. We bring together a team that may include a paediatrician, psychiatrist, neuropsychologist, occupational therapist, speech pathologist and social worker as a ‘one stop shop’ for multidisciplinary assessment, and provide a single, simple to understand diagnostic and treatment report. In this way, rather than deconstructing a person through separate assessments, we try to ‘put them back together again’ while providing practical and evidence-based therapy solutions.”

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are the most common preventable cause of intellectual impairment in developed countries, impacting 2-5% of people in the USA. In the US and Canada, up to 26% of Aboriginal youth in detention suffer from FASD. In Australia the prevalence of FASD is not known, however the highest rates of FASD worldwide have recently been reported in remote Aboriginal communities of the Fitzroy Valley. A barrier to measuring FASD prevalence is the virtual absence of FASD clinics, with PATCHES currently the only operational FASD clinic in Western Australia. A study of FASD within the WA Youth Justice system is currently being conducted by Telethon Kids Institute researchers.

Michael Thorn, Chief Executive of the Foundation for Alcohol and Research Education, strongly supports the ‘can-do, will-do’ approach taken by PATCHES Paediatrics. Mr Thorn states that: “the PATCHES model has the potential to be scaled to additional remote, regional and metropolitan sites across Australia, and the bulk of funding for this model can be accessed through mainstream funding mechanisms.”

Media Enquiries: Dr James Fitzpatrick, M: 0403 198 769 E: W:

Dr James Fitzpatrick, the 2001 Young Australian of the Year, is a paediatrician, Director of PATCHES Paediatrics, Director of Telethon Kids Institute’s FASD research program, a member of the Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs, and inaugural Chair of the Australian FASD Clinical Network. His PhD on FASD prevalence in the Fitzroy Valley was described as “the best of all clinically oriented doctoral theses that I have read over the last forty years” by reviewer Professor Ken Jones, the University of Washington dysmorphologist who first coined the term ‘Fetal Alcohol Syndrome’ in 1973.