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FASD in the Criminal Justice System

Children’s Judge in New Zealand to talk about Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in the Criminal Justice System

Judge Catherine Crawford, Children’s Magistrate from Western Australia, is Guest Speaker at an FASD and Justice Forum hosted by Alcohol Healthwatch in Auckland next week. The Judge is visiting New Zealand as part of a Churchill Fellowship to investigate how young people with FASD are accommodated within various judicial systems.

Children adversely affected by permanent neurodisability resulting from alcohol exposure during pregnancy, are at increased risk of committing crime or being a victim of crime. Such outcomes are doomed to be repeated when there is systematic failure to identify and appropriately accommodate their disability into adulthood.

The recent Privy Council decision to quash the 20 year murder conviction of Mr Teina Pora, recently diagnosed with FASD, provides a timely reminder of how important it is to get the right assessment and treatment and illustrates the devastation that can arise from getting that wrong.

In addition to knowledge gained in Australia, Judge Crawford will discuss what she has learned from services in the USA and Canada, where FASD is more readily accommodated as a matter of course.

Other speakers at the morning forum include Auckland Youth and District Court Judge Tony FitzGerald, FASD Neuropsychologist Dr Valerie McGinn and Claire Gyde, Chairperson of the family support organisation FASD-CAN. The Forum also includes a team from Whakatakapokai Child Protection Residence presenting on their experiences caring for children affected by FASD whilst in their care.

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