Seminar Overview: Jan Hammill will present the biological transition for Indigenous Australians from hunting and foraging across their traditional country, the biological implications of dispossession and acculturation into contemporary existence. Despite data collected widely from within health services there has been a failure to recognise fully the biological, psychological and social consequences defining Indigenous health and wellbeing as it is today. A model will demonstrate how the residual impact of history has created a negative pathway of succession for communities that can only be addressed by quantifying developmental disabilities such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) within a human rights framework. While FASD is not just an Indigenous issue, in the presence of high burdens of transgenerational stress, ongoing racism and entrenched inequalities, community renewal will require an input of resources exempt from political interferences.

Bio: Dr Janet Hammill coordinates the Collaboration for Alcohol Related Developmental Disorders (CARDD) formerly the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Research Network within the Perinatal Research Group at the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research.  An ethnographer, Jan weaves narratives of family history of health and life experiences into a biological framework that better illustrates the epigenetic and developmental burden placed on families. Of particular interest is the neurobiology of stress and teratogenic exposures that have influenced negative trajectories especially for Indigenous families and their children. Those exposed to alcohol in utero represent the most vulnerable individuals in Australia and the effects are being seen transgenerationally. While invisible to diagnosis, they are too visible in statistics that reflect high rates of maternal substance use, compromised perinatal outcomes, poor school achievement, behavioural problems, younger sole parenting, early criminality, recidivism and incidence of chronic diseases which manifest prematurely. Invariably having an FASD impacts significantly on overall access to equal life chances and pose critical and urgent challenges for remediation.

Having shared ancestry with the Gomeroi people of the NSW Pilliga Scrub and of the first convicts into the area, Jan’s primary interest is to raise awareness especially among policy makers to alcohol and substance abuse harm and the pressing need for cross-disciplinary, evidence-based interventions.

About CCR Seminars

The UQ Centre of Clinical Research Seminars (CCR) are held fortnightly on Tuesdays from 12pm - 1pm (except during school holidays) in the CCR Auditorium, Herston. The series features topics in the following fields of research, presented by invited international, interstate and local researchers:

  • Cancer
  • Brain and Mental health
  • Infection and Immunity
  • Mothers, Babies and Lifelong Health
  • Critical Care
  • Integrated Drug Development

Other upcoming sessions