$20 million for community initiatives to treat eating disorders

Organisations who treat and support those affected by eating disorders are set to share in $20 million for community-based eating disorder treatment services which focus on local needs, and which implement innovative and evidence-based models of care which are free to those who access them. The procurement process and grant of these funds is set to commence over the coming months. This forms part of a $24.3 million funding package to establish and expand eating disorder treatment services. 

Alarmingly, at any one time, as many as 31% of Australian adolescents engage in disordered eating. Eating disorders are extremely complex illnesses and have one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric illness.  

Federal Member for Fisher and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Andrew Wallace said that the new funding would make a huge difference to those affected by eating disorders and builds on the record funding for eating disorder care and research in the 2021-22 Budget. 

“I have worked hard to cement the Sunshine Coast’s place as an Australian leader in mental health, and to transform the way Australia talks about and cares for those with eating disorders. This funding package, driven by the example of organisations like endED, builds on that hard work and will enable eligible applicants to make a real difference to the same end. 

“Whether it’s for specialist eating disorder services like endED or Wandi Nerida, or for clinical research and support through USC Thompson Institute or headspace, the Federal Government continues to invest in better mental health outcomes for Sunshine Coast families, and I am proud to be leading those efforts here on the Sunshine Coast.” 

Mark Forbes, the founder of West Woombye-based nonprofit endED, said he was heartened to see this kind of funding commitment to assist initiatives like endED, in supporting those affected by eating disorders.  

“Last year the Federal Government backed our vision to establish Australia’s first eating disorder residential facility right here on the Sunshine Coast. The facility has been open since March 2021 and is now operated by the Butterfly Foundation. 

“The Government understands that there is more to be done in this sector – a lot more – and this is reflected in their latest commitment of $24.3 million in the Budget.  

“We feel we are being heard, respected, valued and understood, just how we in-turn support those who reach out to us.” 

After establishing the Wandi Nerida facility with the Butterfly Foundation, endED went on to create a transitional space located at Woombye. endED now employs 3 full-time and 3 part-time lived experience support staff and recovery coaches, supporting families across the country face-to-face and online. endED have also developed a podcast series to support practitioners and patients alike, with over 90,000 downloads in 120 countries and with a third and fourth season in-development.  

Since 2012-13, the Government has committed $268 million to eating disorder initiatives, with more than $71 million in 2021-22 alone. This is up from just $500,000 for specific eating disorder initiatives in 2012-13. 

Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health (www.headtohealth.gov.au).