Experts think the alcohol industry needs to be targeted as the root cause of a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) "epidemic" among children.
Dr Russell Wills, Hawke's Bay paediatrician and former Children's Commissioner, said there is an "epidemic" of FASD and education and public health warnings would not work to address alcohol accessibility as the root cause of the issue.
"Our impression or principals' impressions are that complex behaviours are on the rise, referrals for complex behaviours have sharply increased in Hawke's Bay," Wills said.
He said the problem was at a national level, not just in Hawke's Bay and Chlöe Swarbrick's Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Harm Minimisation) Amendment Bill drawn from the members' ballot would help address a normalised and glamourised binge-drinking culture.
The bill will abolish appeals on local alcohol policies and implement a number of restrictions around alcohol sponsorships.
"The only things that work at a population level are restricting and stopping advertising, restricting supply, raising the price of very cheap alcohol and raising the age," Wills said.
He said Hawke's Bay's local government leaders understood the impact of alcohol on communities but were powerless to restrict access and marketing of alcohol to vulnerable young people.
"If communities want to restrict [the sale and supply of alcohol] then they should have that ability and local government as their representatives should be able to reflect their communities' will. Currently they're not."
He said it was positive to see more early referrals for diagnosis coming from schools.
"We know that early referral, early diagnosis, early support and early treatment change outcomes for all these children irrespective of their diagnosis."
However, he said diagnostic services are now overwhelmed and don't have the capacity to meet the demand to see all the children who are referred.
Te Awa School principal Tim Van Zyl said he was seeing more complex behaviours and higher needs overall, including those associated with FASD.
He said more parents were identifying complex behaviours in their children at home and taking steps to get them diagnosed.
"Sometimes they can be solved by simple strategies we put in place at school and at home, but other times we do need help from the paediatricians."
He said one of the biggest concerns was the level of support for students with complex needs.
"We have a lot around on how teachers can support them, but that is a heavy workload on our teachers.
"Even if we look at our students trying to access the Ongoing Resource Scheme, it is extremely difficult for some students, even for severely non-verbal autistic children to access the scheme.
"We need more than just money, a support person in every classroom would be amazing."
Kim Milne, principal adviser for the national FASD Care Action Network, said one of the issues was that most pregnancies in New Zealand are unplanned.
"That is the first issue, most birth parents do not know they are pregnant when they are socialising and drinking in that critical first trimester."
She said she agreed with Wills in supporting greater community agency regarding the sale of alcohol and restrictions around advertising, but she thought there was still value in education as a measure of prevention and in prominent warnings on product labelling.
"I am not anti-alcohol, but alcohol providers should be more responsible."
She said research shows that early intervention by age 6 at least led to greatly improved outcomes for the child and whānau - but you could not get a formal diagnosis of FASD until children were about 8, as the children weren't usually capable enough to take the tests.
She said if FASD was officially recognised as a disability there would be more support for people who have it.
Kim's son David has FASD, and has had a difficult time going through the school system and with the lack of support after leaving it.
"Lack of motivation, lack of attention span, it's very hard to make friends," David said.
"It was hard, so many fights, a very dangerous atmosphere when I was angry, not just for me, but for other people as well."
He was officially diagnosed with FASD around 8 years old, but he said earlier detection would have helped him a lot if it had been accessible for him.
He said people with FASD should have access to counselling and therapy as support when they leave school, too.
"If the kids were anything like I was when growing up, they would need serious therapy for the lack of self-control around their emotions and overall control of their body."
He said he was one of the lucky ones, to have support from his mum and to have avoided going down a path of drugs and crime.
"Kids, as everyone knows, are literally the future. Kids need support, kids need to be raised properly and I just think they need to have the best possible support we can provide them."