Auckland Uni – FASD survey on support workers


In 2022, researchers at the University of Auckland conducted an online survey with social and community workers to explore their knowledge, attitudes, practice and experience working with people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). The survey was funded by a University of Auckland Faculty Research Development Fund.

Over 200 social and community workers completed the survey including, but not limited to, social workers, support workers, students, probation and correction officers, health promoters, youth workers, case managers and clinical workers. 

  • Most participants were aware of FASD but reported only having basic understanding of it.
  • Nearly half of the participants incorrectly believed that distinctive facial features are a feature of FASD; in reality only 10% of people with FASD show distinctive facial features.
  • Almost half of participants believed incorrectly that a diagnosis of FASD would enable an individual to access Disability Support Services when in fact an individual must have an IQ of 70 or less for DSS – which excludes the 80% of people with FASD who do not meet this criterion.
  • Around a third of participants believed that a diagnosis of FASD would not improve outcomes for those affected by FASD.
  • A majority of participants believed that diagnosis of FASD might lead to a child or their family being stigmatised.
  • Most participants indicated that FASD was relevant to their work and would require a change in their behaviours and practices to best support people with FASD, while very few felt prepared to support someone with FASD.
  • Only a third reported they had received training related to FASD in the last five years and few were aware of the resources provided by Te Pou [click here to access these FASD-informed training modules for front-line professionals].

These findings suggest that more resources and training is required to support social and community workers to effectively support people with FASD. This includes information on best practice guidelines to support people with FASD and information on available resources to support family members and people with FASD to access support. 

The full research manuscript is now available – click here to read it

McCormack, J. C., Chu, J. T. W., Wilson, H Rahman, J., Marsh, S., & Bullen, C. - Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices towards Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the New Zealand Social and Community Sector: An Online Survey. Manuscript in preparation.