August 30th, 2023
With more than one million Australians experiencing an eating disorder, and prevalence rates continuing to increase, a new 10-year National Eating Disorder Strategy released today outlines key steps needed to tackle Australia’s growing eating disorder crisis.
The Eating Disorders Alliance of Australia (EDAA) wholeheartedly endorse the comprehensive new National Eating Disorder Strategy, launched today by the Federal Minister for Health, Mark Butler.
The strategy, commissioned by the Department of Health and designed by the National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC), outlines a Stepped System of Care approach that places significant emphasis on community-based psychosocial and lived experience supports.
As representatives of the more than one million Australians experiencing eating disorders, their loved ones, and health professionals, the EDAA call on state and federal governments to take decisive steps towards implementing the Stepped System of Care for eating disorders across all states and territories.
Australia’s national charity for body image and eating disorders, Butterfly Foundation, “strongly supports the Strategy’s focus on a system-wide approach, with a clear framework for the sector across treatment, support, prevention and early intervention”. CEO Jim Hungerford continues, “As a sector driven by lived experience, we applaud the strategy for centring the voices of those with living and lived experiences of eating disorders, who continue to drive change. It will also be vital that adequate funding is provided across the sector and at all levels to ensure this strategy can be successfully implemented”.
Belinda Caldwell, CEO of Eating Disorders Victoria, stresses the need for investment in community-led initiatives that are driven by those with lived experience. “We know that the majority of eating disorders can and should be treated in the community, before people end up needing intensive and costly hospital-based supports. If we drive investment into the earlier stages of the stepped system of care and utilise a diverse workforce, we will ensure more people are picked up early, connected to evidence-based treatment and are equipped with what they need to recover, sooner.”
Jade Gooding from the Australian and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders (ANZAED), the peak body representing eating disorder health professionals and researchers, commends the strategy’s emphasis on communities who have traditionally faced additional barriers to receiving help. “ANZAED is optimistic for the implementation of integrated, coordinated and evidence-based care across the whole system of support, particularly for marginalised communities, including neuro and gender diverse people as well as those living in rural and remote communities.”
Eating Disorders Families Australia (EDFA) Executive Director Jane Rowan said the organisation is committed to working collaboratively to realise the Strategy’s objectives over the next decade. “We are particularly pleased to see the Strategy’s recognition of families and carers as an integral part of the recovery team as well as a clear focus on ensuring they have the support they also need,” she said.
Belinda Chelius, CEO of Eating Disorders Queensland, echoes the support of the EDAA, and reminds all organisations and service providers to keep individuals at the centre of any care provided. “The strategy is an excellent broad roadmap, but let’s remember to keep working with individuals to understand their unique needs and respond accordingly.”
EDAA members – Butterfly Foundation, Eating Disorders Victoria, Eating Disorders Queensland, Eating Disorders Families Australia and Australia and New Zealand Academy of Eating Disorders – will be present at the strategy launch on August 30th in Melbourne at the State Library.
For more information on the National Strategy, visit the NEDC website here: https://nedc.com.au/