FETAL ALCOHOL SPECTRUM DISORDERS: USING KNOWLEDGE, ATTITUDES AND PRACTICE OF JUSTICE PROFESSIONALS TO SUPPORT THEIR EDUCATIONAL NEEDS

Main Article Content

Raewyn C. Mutch
Heather M. Jones
Carol Bower
Rochelle E. Watkins

Keywords

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, judges, magistrates, lawyers, corrections officers, police

Abstract

Background


People with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) can be involved in high risk, socially unacceptable and harmful behaviours and are at high risk of engaging with the justice system.


Objective


To obtain baseline data on Western Australian justice professionals’ knowledge, attitudes and practice relating to FASD to inform the development of FASD resources.


Methods


Cross sectional study using online survey methods, descriptive analysis of quantitative data and content analysis methods for qualitative data.


Results


1873 people were invited to complete the survey. A total of 427 (23%) judicial officers, lawyers, corrective services personnel and police completed the survey. The majority had heard of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (85%) but were less familiar with FASD (60%). Only 16% of respondents identified the key features of FASD as permanent and only 48.4% considered psychological difficulties as important. The majority of legal and judicial officers and approximately half the police officers considered that knowledge about FASD was very relevant to their work.


Conclusion


There was widespread agreement of the need for more information and training about FASD to optimise outcomes for people with, or suspected of having a FASD , engaging with the justice system.

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