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First ever NZ conference on alcohol damage to children

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

An upcoming conference is a first for New Zealand. The "Babies, Children and Alcohol" conference on March 22 at Te Papa, Wellington, is focused on the damage that alcohol is doing to New Zealand's children and what can be done about it.

"Alcohol is causing brain damage in up to 3000 unborn babies every year in New Zealand" said Prof Jennie Connor, one of the organisers of the conference.

"Together with alcohol-related violence, poverty and neglect suffered by children, this constitutes a serious breach of the human rights of New Zealand's most vulnerable citizens".

"We know there are over 70,000 alcohol-related physical and sexual assaults every year in New Zealand, which is about 200 every day. Many of these violent events are in the full view or at least within earshot of children".

"One of the motivating factors for holding this conference was the pitiful lack of focus on alcohol in the recently publicised Green Paper for Vulnerable Children" added Dr Geoff Robinson, another conference organiser.

"The conference will be opened by the Children's Commissioner, Dr Russell Wills, and will feature presentations from New Zealand's leading health professionals working in alcohol and child advocacy, and includes a special session on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder led by Australia's and New Zealand's foremost FASD experts, Prof Elizabeth Elliott and Dr Craig Immelman respectively."

"You might think that as a country we remain largely in denial about how much damage the heavy drinking culture is causing us all," added Prof Doug Sellman, also involved in organising the conference.

"But through the latest Health Sponsorship Council's scientific survey we now know the majority of the NZ public want much stronger alcohol reforms than what the government has so far proposed in the Alcohol Reform Bill."

"We look forward to hearing the response of five MPs representing National, Labour, Green, Maori and NZ First who will be speaking in the final session of the conference."

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