Meet our Victorian Fetal Alcohol Service (VicFAS) team at Monash Children’s Hospital.
This week we celebrated the launch of VicFAS, a 12 month pilot program funded by the Federal Government to educate health professionals and enhance the treatment of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) throughout Victoria.
The team shares what led them on this journey and their passion for supporting children and young people affected by FASD.
To read more visit https://monashhealth.org/meet-our-vicfas-team/
Dr Katrina Harris, Developmental Paediatrician and VicFAS Lead
Dr Katrina Harris is Head of Developmental and Community Paediatrics and Medical Lead of Monash Childrens’ at Home. In 2019, Katrina was successful in applying for a Commonwealth grant for the Victorian Fetal Alcohol Service (VicFAS).
Katrina’s interest in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders developed over years spent working in Northern Australia, particularly with Indigenous communities. During her time in North Queensland she established the multidisciplinary Autism Diagnostic service for the Townsville and Palm Island region.
Katrina is currently working to integrate FAS assessment and management into the broader developmental assessment of children, through the creation of the Victorian Fetal Alcohol Service.
In her free time, Katrina enjoys camping with friends and family, running and reading.
Dr Ali Crichton, VicFAS Clinical Coordinator and Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist
Ali Crichton is the Senior Neuropsychologist and Clinical Coordinator of VicFAS.
She is motivated to build and support the team to conduct multi-disciplinary assessments of children with pre-natal alcohol exposure and broader neurodevelopmental problems who have been assessed as being at risk of FASD.
Dr Crichton has over 10 years’ experience working within paediatrics at tertiary hospitals in multidisciplinary teams, including rehabilitation and neurodevelopmental clinics. She particularly enjoys multidisciplinary team clinical work, and innovative, evidence based clinical practice to deliver the highest quality clinical care to children and families.
She is a keen clinician-researcher, and completed her PhD in in 2017. She will work in collaboration with Monash University to understand cognitive and behavioural profiles of FASD. She is the Deputy Chair of the Victorian section of the College of Clinical Neuropsychologists (Australian Psychology Society), and is an executive member of the Australian Paediatric Neuropsychology Research Network.
In her free time, Ali enjoys picking up Lego off the floor, reading, running, and thinks about meditating.
Prue Walker, VicFAS Service Coordinator
Prue Walker (BA Hons, MA (Soc Pol), BSW) is a Social Worker who has worked in child protection services in Victoria and Northern Territory for over 16 years as a Practice Leader and manager. Her most recent role was as Program Leader in Out of Home Care including an Adoption and Permanent Care program. Prue has extensive experience in supporting children and young people affected by FASD and their families.
Prue undertook a Churchill Fellowship in 2009, where she travelled to Canada and the United States to explore models of care for children with FASD. She presented her findings at the APCCAN Asia Pacific Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect in Perth 2009, and has since arranged a number of FASD forums and events. She continues to provide FASD training consultancy services to professionals and families. Prue is also a sessional teacher in Social Work at La Trobe University, and is passionate about raising awareness and promoting knowledge of FASD within the sector.
In her spare time she walks her pugs, drives her teenage daughter around and watches Schitt’s Creek.
Dr Michelle Lindsay-Dawe, Clinical Neuropsychologist
Michelle is a Clinical Neuropsychologist with over 10 years’ experience in the assessment of children, adolescents and young adults. She has worked in a variety of hospital settings, including Acute Rehabilitation Units, The Royal Children’s Hospital Learning Difficulties Centre and The Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service. Michelle has also worked in Acute Paediatric Inpatient Units and currently works part time within the Neurodevelopmental Psychiatry Team at Monash Early in Life Mental Health Service and in private practice.
Michelle has a passion for helping young people and their families better understand the impact of cognitive difficulties and how to best utilise their cognitive strengths.
In her spare time, she likes to keep active by dancing to the wiggles, walking on the beach, or escaping to San Remo (which is NOT in Italy) to her coastal caravan.
Natalie Hindman, Occupational Therapist
Natalie has joined the VicFAS team as a paediatric occupational therapist, which complements her work as an acute therapist at MCH and in other multidisciplinary teams including developmental paediatrics, rheumatology and chronic pain.
She has 13 years of experience working with children with a variety of complex needs in hospital, school, and community settings. She has particular interest in how movement and sensory processing impact on a child’s ability to participate in meaningful activities.
In her free time Natalie spends too much time at the gym, is determined to see the world, and teaches yoga.
Maria Kouspos, Speech Pathologist
Maria is a paediatric speech pathologist, and works in other multidisciplinary teams including the Developmental Paediatrics Clinic and Healthy Koori Kids Clinic.
She has 18 years of experience working with children with complex neurological, developmental and behavioural conditions. She is interested in working with vulnerable children, their complexities and understanding the impact of trauma on child development, particularly for children in out-of-home care.
Maria is particularly passionate about assisting families understand their child’s communication profile and the implications it has on their child’s daily experiences. She provides informed assessments, and family-centred, evidence based therapy according to the individual’s presenting needs and is culturally and linguistically sensitive.
Maria is a Certified Practising Member of Speech Pathology Australia.
Natalie Huynh, Administrative Assistant
Natalie is an Administrative Assistant with the VicFAS and Adolescent Medicine team at the Monash Children’s Hospital.
She has prior administrative experience working in various health and medical environments. Most recently working in Acute Adolescent and Adult Mental Health Inpatient services with the Box Hill Mental Health Program and within private suites of a Neurosurgeon, Physiotherapist and Oncologist.
Natalie has a keen interest in food and nutrition sciences and in her spare time enjoys reading on the studies of our mind and gut connection, our gut microbiome and how various diets impact on our mental health.
Pictured Left to Right: Dr Ali Crichton, Natalie Huynh, Prue Walker, Dr Katrina Harris and Maria Kouspos