June Oscar named Women of Influence for helping children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

June Oscar, a community leader from Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia, has been named this year’s Australian Financial Review and Westpac Women of Influence for Social Enterprise and Not-for-Profit.  

June Oscar is working with The George Institute and The University of Sydney to improve the lives of children living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) as part of The Lilliwan Project (Marulu).  

Associate Professor Jane Latimer of The George Institute and The University of Sydney said: “There isn’t a more deserving person than June for this award. Working closely with her over the last four years I have personally seen the inspirational and courageous woman that she is”.

“June is determined to make sure that that an individual’s right to drink does not change the health and opportunities of the next generation of children, and thanks to her there is hope, ” Professor Latimer said.

The Lilliwan Project involves Australia’s first-ever holistic approach to the prevention, diagnosis and management of FASD. FASD represents a continuum of permanent birth defects caused when mothers consume alcohol during pregnancy. These conditions, considered 100% preventable, result in the birth of children with physical, behavioural and cognitive problems. Although there are no accurate data on the exact prevalence of FASD in Indigenous communities, paediatricians suggest that up to 30% of children in the Fitzroy Valley may be affected. The research team from The George Institute and the University of Sydney were invited by June Oscar and Maureen Carter, community leaders from Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia, to join them in addressing this devastating reality.

For this year’s Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards there were more than 500 applicants and 100 finalists. Eleven women were chosen as the winners, with June Oscar among these few receiving the award in the category of Social Enterprise and Not-for-Profit.

According to The Australian Financial Review, "June Oscar has not just fought, but won. The women of the Marninwarntikura Fitzroy Women’s Resource Centre Aboriginal Corporation, of which she is chief executive, successfully campaigned against the alcohol industry to ban the sale of full-strength beer, which was ruining lives in the town of Fitzroy Crossing in Kimberley. She won an order of Australia for that and the range of her achievements is extraordinary. She is director of community corporations, has made presentations to the United Nations and done pioneering research on living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder."

In June's personal statement for the awards, she said: “I am a community grounded and driven individual. I am a woman who is continuously trying to bring about change through positive actions and programmes from within my community.”

For more about the 100 Women of Influence Awards click here.