Tuesday, 7 March 2023


Eating disorder strategy


Eating disorder strategy

Kat THEOPHANOUS (Northcote) (19:20): (76) My adjournment is to the Minister for Mental Health. I ask the minister to arrange a briefing for me with her department to discuss progress towards finalising Victoria’s new eating disorder strategy and delivering our first residential treatment centre for eating disorders. Victoria needs a well-funded, well-coordinated and evidence-based eating disorder system of care that can deliver tailored support and treatment for people living with eating disorders. Eating disorders are serious, complex and life-threatening mental illnesses. They occur in people of all ages, genders, sexual identities, cultural groups, in people of all body shapes and sizes and in people living with other physical and mental health issues. However, eating disorders are most prevalent amongst adolescents and young people. I have heard from several families in my community struggling to support their young loved ones with eating disorders and the huge toll it takes.

Disturbingly eating disorders increased by 11.1 per cent between 2008–09 and 2017–18, the largest increase of all disorders. They have the highest mortality rate of all mental health conditions. That is why we have prioritised funding to help those affected by eating disorders, investing $20 million to provide dedicated, tailored treatments and services, and we are working to establish Victoria’s first statewide residential treatment centre for eating disorders, due to open next year. This facility will provide 24/7 therapeutic interventions in a home-like environment, with statewide access and integration across all eating disorder services. We are also investing record amounts in mental health and support in schools to ensure Victorian students get support at this volatile age.

The complex, variable and fluid nature of eating disorder presentations necessitates a multidimensional and flexible approach to assessment, clinical diagnosis and treatment planning within our health systems. Unfortunately current eating disorder care across Australia is inconsistently delivered, difficult to navigate and not evidence based. For people living with eating disorders, their families and carers, this makes accessing the supports and treatments they need far too difficult – a heartbreaking and disempowering reality. For the large percentage of those with eating disorders who are also neurodivergent or present with additional mental ill health, navigating the system is even harder. We know that addressing fragmentation in the system requires high levels of coordination between physical and mental health services, private and public services, health and community services and between disciplines. Our government is not shying away from this. We are working to build a more compassionate, responsive, coordinated system to support people living with eating disorders and their loved ones. It is what Victorians need and what we deserve, and I look forward to hearing more about how we are progressing towards a better system of care for people living with eating disorders so that patients, their families and their carers can access the treatments and supports they need to heal and recover.