Federal MPs Unite to Establish Parliamentary Friends Group for Eating Disorder Awareness
Monday 6 March, 2023
Supported by the Butterfly Foundation, 23 Federal MPs have come together from across the political spectrum to establish the Parliamentary Friends of Eating Disorder Awareness group, highlighting the critical need for more support and services for people suffering from an eating disorder or body image issues, and their families.
As Australia’s national charity for eating disorders and body image issues, representing the voice of lived experience, Butterfly Foundation is supporting the formation of the Parliamentary Friends Group to address the critical need for more resources for people suffering from an eating disorder or body image issues. Eating disorders do not discriminate by postcode, wealth or political persuasion.
Co-Chairs of the Group, the Hon. Susan Templeman, MP; the Hon. Zoe Daniel, MP; and the Hon. Andrew Wallace, MP have put aside their political differences to address what the Minister for Health, Mark Butler MP, called a ‘national crisis’ in the recent ABC 4 Corners Program on this issue.
Approximately one million Australians currently have an eating disorder, but only 25% of them access support or treatment. Millions more experience significant body image issues – a well-known risk factor for eating disorders.
According to Butterfly CEO, Kevin Barrow, “It is heartening to see these complex and difficult mental illnesses getting significant attention across political parties, and we are optimistic that this will be the beginning of getting the necessary support for people to achieve much better outcomes than are currently available for many.”
“More resources are desperately needed from both State and Federal governments to address the urgent requirement for eating disorder prevention, early intervention and treatment services in Australia, including the examination of best practice approaches from overseas,” said Kevin.
Representing the voice of lived experience, Butterfly Pathfinders Matthew Chun and Emily Unity also spoke at the launch. Matthew is a devoted father of four who has been a carer for his daughter who developed an eating disorder at a young age. A highly respected leader in senior management, Matt advocates for greater education in primary schools around what a healthy relationship with food and exercise looks like as well as greater education for parents about what the early warning signs are. He believes we need to apply the same care and empathy towards eating disorders that we do for depression and anxiety.
“Our lived experience taught us that our journey could have been less traumatic and drawn out if we could have picked up on the early signs and also if we had the ability to access mental health treatment rather than just the physical treatment,” said Matt. “We need to see broader education in schools to both parents and children, and, essentially, more options for treatment – both residential and day programs, to assist families caring for suffers of this illness.”
Emily Unity (they/them) is a LGBTQIA+, disabled, and neurodiverse young person from a refugee and migrant background who developed an eating disorder at the age of 12. Now 25, Emily is mental health professional, passionate about co-designing solutions to systemic barriers. They endeavour to use both their professional and lived experience to help advocate for a world inclusive of all people, regardless of background, identity, or neurodiversity.
“Eating disorders are non-partisan,” Emily said. “Eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of their political affiliation.”
“They are complex and affected by many experiences of intersectional privilege and oppression. It’s important to be open to the complexity of understanding eating disorders and collaborating with people across disciplines and sectors,” Emily added.
Run by Butterfly Foundation, Wandi Nerida is Australia’s only residential treatment centre for eating disorders, with 13 beds. State-funded residential treatment centres are yet to be operational.
The Parliamentary Friends of Eating Disorder Awareness will use today to plan for their inaugural meeting, where they will map out next steps in working together to improve the lives of all Australians suffering from an eating disorder, and their loved ones.
Melissa Wilton, Head of Communications & Engagement, P: 0402 259 652, E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Edelman PR, E: butterflyPR@Edelman.com
Editor and producers note: Please include the following support line details in all media coverage of this story and refer to the Mindframe Media guidelines for safe reporting on eating disorders. Please include the following helpline message.
Help and Support
Anyone needing support with eating disorders or body image issues is encouraged to contact:
- Butterfly National Helpline on 1800 33 4673 (1800 ED HOPE) or email@example.com
- Eating Disorders Victoria Helpline on 1300 550 23
- For urgent support call Lifeline 13 11 14
Butterfly is Australia’s leading not for profit supporting everyone affected by eating and body image issues. You can find out about Butterfly and our prevention services for schools and communities at www.butterfly.org.au or contact our education team – firstname.lastname@example.org
About Wandi Nerida
Butterfly Residential Care, trading as Wandi Nerida, is Australia’s first residential recovery centre for people affected by an eating disorder. It is 100% owned and operated by the Butterfly Foundation. It provides a safe, nurturing and healing environment for those most in need, delivering concentrated, person-centred treatment. Wandi Nerida provides a bridge between hospital admission and outpatient care to provide an opportunity for a more intensive psychological recovery, finding the ‘healthy self’ within the eating disorder.