Indigenous Health

The main focus of the Indigenous Health theme is to conduct community-championed collaborative research involving a number of key stakeholders. Collaborators come from a variety of backgrounds including Aboriginal community navigators, paediatricians, physiotherapists, school educators, human rights experts, film makers and creative advertising agencies. The focus area of this stream is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).  With our collaborators we aim to help improve the lives of children and families with FASD.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are a range of disorders that occur when women drink alcohol during pregnancy. Children may be born with a range of lifelong learning and behaviour difficulties. Work in this theme has involved collaborating with Indigenous leaders from remote communities, researchers from the Telethon Kids Institute, and paediatricians from the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Sydney, to conduct the first study of the prevalence of FASD in remote Aboriginal communities. This work which was co-lead by Professor Latimer, was known as the Lililwan Project and provided the first understanding of the burden of FASD for remote communities.

Collaborative projects

FASD Research Australia has been established by research leaders with funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for five years (2016-2020) and is being led by the Telethon Kids Institute.

FASD Research Australia aims to contribute to the sustainable empowerment of communities, organisations and professionals to address FASD, and reduce its compounding impact on affected children, their families and the wider community. It harnesses the extensive skills and experience of a multidisciplinary research and clinical team and their networks to support high-quality and high-impact research to address three key areas related to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

Principal Investigator: Professor Carol Bower – Telethon Kids Institute.

Institute for Musculoskeletal Health Investigator: Professor Jane Latimer

For more information, please visit FASD Research Australia.

The intention of the trial is to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Alert Program in primary school aged children with or without Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

The aim of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of the Alert Program in improving self-regulation and executive function in primary school children, with or without FASD. Recent work has confirmed that FASD prevalence is amongst the highest in the world in remote communities in north-western Australia where alcohol misuse has been endemic. Thirty percent of children assessed in the Lililwan study had problems with self-regulation or their ability to change their state of arousal so that it appropriately matched the tasks to be performed. The Alert Program has been designed by occupational therapists to improve a child’s ability to self-regulate, and uses the analogy of a car engine to teach students about self-regulation. This work evaluates the use of the Alert Program in remote community settings where there is a high prevalence of FASD, and is being led by the Telethon Kids Institute, with Prof Latimer from the Institute for Musculoskeletal Health collaborating on this work.

This study is currently recruiting. Children enrolled in years one to six at one of the nine study site schools in the Fitzroy Valley may be eligible to participate.

Principal Investigator: Dr James Fitzpatrick

Institute for Musculoskeletal Health Investigator:  Professor Jane Latimer

For more information about this Telethon Kids Institute project, please visit the Alert Program website or contact Study Coordinator, Bree Wagner. This study has received ethics approval from the University of Western Australia and funding through the NHMRC.


Theme leader: Professor Jane Latimer

BAppSc (Phty), GradDipAppSc (Manip Phty), PhD

Professor Jane Latimer is Deputy Director of the Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, a Professor in the School of Public Health and Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford. Her research has focused on management of spinal pain, but she has also lead research in two smaller paediatric areas: fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and children with haemophilia.