Over 60 guests, including a number of MPs, gathered in the Legislative Council Committee Room at Parliament House Victoria for our annual Feed the Soul event.
The event is now in it’s 8th year and is designed to shine a spotlight on the current state of eating disorders in Victoria among policy makers and influential stakeholders.
This year we were honoured to welcome the Francic family as our special guests, and have India Francic speak about the experience of her brother Dane, who sadly passed away earlier this year after a 6 year battle with anorexia nervosa. India spoke passionately about the need for better education around eating disorders, both among health professionals and the general community.
“Because I don’t believe his school, his GP or anyone in Dane’s life simply didn’t care. They just didn’t know. Or if they did know, they didn’t know what to do or didn’t understand the seriousness of this illness. Perhaps if we were able to get rid of the taboo and myths surrounding eating disorders, such as it being “a girls disease”, or if people didn’t assume it was Dane’s “choice” to be so obsessive, or even if people stopped falsely assuming “a good meal will cure him”, maybe we could have had a different outcome for Dane. Central to all of this is education and awareness.”
Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley also spoke at the event. The Minister highlighted the work that is going into the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, which should improve the system so that people like Dane and the Francic family are better supported.
Opposition spokesperson for Mental Health Emma Kealy also spoke and pledged her support to the work of EDV, particularly our Peer Mentoring Program.
Greens spokesperson for Mental Health Dr Tim Read attended the event for the first time, and highlighted the need for comprehensive care for people with mental illness before they reach the acute stage of hospitalization.
This message rang true for the Francic family, who attended 3 GPs and 6 psychologist visits with Dane before he was diagnosed with anorexia and rushed to hospital with serious heart complications.
Whilst Dane’s story is a difficult one to share, it’s so important that these stories are spoken about. Not only does it help break down stigma around eating disorders, but it’s a reminder that eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that warrant specialist care.
We sincerely thank the Francic family for bravely sharing their story.
“Sharing our story won’t bring my brother back but I’m hopeful that it could change the system for families in future.” – India Francic