June Oscar: taking a courageous stand for the benefit of others
The Australian reports efforts of June Oscar, one of the most effective leaders in the Australian nation, in her fight against alcohol and FASD.
She took a stand in her Kimberley community in Western Australia’s far north for the lasting benefit of its residents and especially for children.
Now she is working to ensure a safe and healthy future for the generations to come after her.
A senior Bunuba woman from Fitzroy Crossing, Ms Oscar angered business and even members of her own extended family when she began the difficult work of securing alcohol restrictions in Fitzroy Crossing in 2007.
Those restrictions acted as a circuit-breaker for a town in crisis.
Frequent suicide and alcohol-fuelled violence had cast a shadow over the Fitzroy Valley when Ms Oscar and her friend Emily Carter said enough was enough, and enlisted the support of West Australian Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan to lobby for a ban on full-strength takeaway alcohol.
Since, Ms Oscar has overseen the nation’s first study of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, an invaluable tool for prevention and education in indigenous and non-indigenous communities.
Working with researchers and doctors from the George Institute and the Telethon Kids Institute, Ms Oscar finally quantified what many had long suspected; the rate at which Aboriginal children in the Fitzroy Valley are born with permanent brain damage as a result of their mothers’ drinking is among the world’s highest.
Now Ms Oscar is working with indigenous families affected by FASD, a disability not recognised as such and often shrouded in shame.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.