Marulu – a Bunuba word meaning precious, worth nurturing – is a community initiative to overcome Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and Early Life Trauma (ELT) in the Fitzroy Valley. Significant numbers of children and families are suffering permanent effects to their physical and mental health from alcohol use during pregnancy. This is often compounded by early life trauma associated with excessive alcohol use in the community, resulting in additional barriers to normal child development, behaviour and learning.Marulu Strategy Leadership Group
In May 2009, a Leadership Team representing community, non-government and government organisations endorsed the Marulu Strategy to overcome FASD and ELT across the Fitzroy Valley, with sub-strategies addressing prevention, screening, diagnosis and support, capacity-building and resourcing.
Marninwarntikura has a full time Marulu youth worker, and is currently establishing a Marulu unit. The Marulu worker, along with renowned paediatricians and other health professionals, have developed presentations and workshops on the causes, effects and consequences of FASD. The presentation is educational, culturally appropriate and sensitive to the fact that FASD is an extremely vulnerable and confronting issue. The presentations are tailored for local use as a way to effectively distribute and explain scientifically evidenced information on the prevalence of FASD, and for introducing and explaining FASD to outside agencies and health workers.
The youth worker occupies an essential intermediary position between scientists, service providers, government organisations and the local Indigenous population. The Marulu unit will utilise the staff member’s knowledge and understanding of local culture, language, history, customs and protocols to contextualize the seriousness of FASD and communicate effectively to the communities of the Valley. Marninwarntikura acknowledges the importance that all scientific information on FASD is accessible and understandable to the community. The constant availability of Marulu workers ensures there is a consistent site of information on FASD and family support at the centre and that community outreach programmes are devised and initiated. Through the provision of relevant information and educational sessions we are empowering our community to confront the seriousness of alcoholism, to support and care for one another, and together overcome FASD.