Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and the law in Australia: the need for awareness and concern to translate into urgent action.

Ian Freckelton

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialOtherpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Awareness of the social tragedies and legal difficulties caused by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder has been emerging since the 1960s. However, although a great deal is now known clinically about the disorder, its diagnosis and what needs to be done by way of prevention and management, a co-ordinated therapeutic and public health response in Australia has thus far been lacking. In turn, this is having a range of repercussions for the courts in evaluating accused persons' criminal responsibility and culpability. Two high-quality and extensive reports during 2012 from Western Australian and Commonwealth parliamentary committees have documented the problems and provided a blueprint for a collaborative and comprehensive intergovernmental response. The challenge for government is now to implement the proposals throughout Australia (and be guided by them in New Zealand) as a matter of urgency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-492
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Law and Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

Cite this