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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

Puppets and hip hop lead the fight against FASD

Date posted: 21 November 2013

A collection of puppets depicting a Tennant Creek family affected by Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), is opening a difficult conversation. The choices parents make could prevent babies being born with health and behavioural problems. The challenge for Adele Gibson, the FASD Coordinator for the Anyinginyi Aboriginal Health Corporation in Tennant Creek, was overcoming cultural, educational and language barriers to the prevention message.

In the face of a serious and tragic health problem, Ms Gibson turned to puppets and hip hop. 'Our three custom-made puppets have these fantastic latex faces, and they're our FASD family. There's Mum, Lila; Dad, Clem; and seven year old son Mathias who has FASD. Mum is pregnant for the second time, but this time she knows not to drink,' says Ms Gibson. 'Basically what I've had to do is get across a negative message. So you're telling people not to do something. Whenever you have a 'not' or a 'no', you've got to balance it with something positive,' she says.

Over two years, the community created the puppets which were used to tell stories of FASD in short films as well as original music which broached the issue. The film, Barkly fights FASD, was launched to the community in October and had an immediate impact. 'A hundred people came through the doors and they loved the film. And we used the film as a catalyst for a community forum,' Ms Gibson says.

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation Northern Territory


Last updated: 25 March 2014
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