Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Social Work Practice inAustralia: A Narrative Literature Review

Nirosha Boaden, Jung-Sook Lee & Therese M. Cumming (2023): Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Social Work Practice in Australia: A Narrative Literature Review, Australian Social Work, DOI: 10.1080/0312407X.2023.2193175
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/0312407X.2023.2193175

In Australia, it has been well documented that the leading preventable cause of nongenetic neurodevelopmental disability (NDD) is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). This review explores literature informing Australian social work in the context of FASD. It highlights the need for increased social work research to inform evidence-based practice (EBP) in FASD diagnosis and management using the biopsychosocial-spiritual-cultural (BPSSC) framework.

Social workers are often first to identify children’s emotional, behavioural, and learning difficulties that may be a characteristic of FASD. Nonetheless, there is limited knowledge and understanding about how social workers in Australia address FASD.

We argue that research about FASD and social work practice can improve social workers’ understanding of the BPSSC characteristics and management of FASD across the life course and contribute to EBP development in these areas in Australian social work.


  • Social workers have an emerging role in the holistic assessment, diagnosis, and management of FASD in Australia.
  • Social workers are well placed in being first to recognise and identify an individual’s emotional, behavioural, sociocultural, and learning difficulties that are characteristics of FASD.
  • Social workers can contribute to ongoing care in a tailored FASD management plan that links the caregivers to appropriate local community resources, service provision, and disability supports.

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