Petition To Increase Government Services For Eating Disorder Sufferers and Their Families/Carers sign now

We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our Minister for Health and other leaders to act now to increase the services and funding available for eating disorders. We request that treatment, intervention, prevention and education be more readily available for those suffering eating disorders, their family, loved ones and the professionals who treat them in the ACT and surrounding NSW regions.

Eating Disorders are a serious mental illness which can have many debilitating physical consequences. According to The Eating Disorders Foundation of NSW, Australia wide approximately 1 in 200 people will suffer Anorexia Nervosa, which is the third most chronic illness in girls and young women (after obesity and asthma). It is estimated 1 in 5 chronic patients will be dead in 20 years. A further 1 in 100 people will suffer Bulimia Nervosa although it is estimated to be as high as 1 in 5 in some student populations. Those suffering eating disorders are 37 times more likely to commit suicide than their healthy counterparts. The average duration of an Eating Disorder is 4-7 years. Body image and weight concerns are present in children as young as 6 years old and concerns increase in older age groups, particularly among females (ODea and Caputi, 2001). 1 in 4 Australians know someone with an eating disorder (The Australian/Newspoll).

Currently in the ACT there is a severe shortage of services. The specialized treatment program, The Eating Disorders Program (EDP) has a maximum capacity of 6 patients in the 12 week, 3 days per week Anorexia Nervosa Day Program. This program is aimed at younger non chronic clients and includes support from a part-time dietician (as stated in the Mental Health ACT Eating Disorders Program information brochure). This program initially offers five-ten x 1 hour sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to treat Bulimia Nervosa and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (ED-NOS), followed by a review. The entire EDP has a psychiatrist who attends the EDP a half day per fortnight (as stated in the Mental Health ACT Eating Disorders Program information brochure).

The services currently available in the ACT are not adequate. We urge the ACT Government and ACT Health to increase funding for this program, so that a more comprehensive Day Program is available and there are more specialized staff positions such as a full time dietician and a psychiatrist who is available more frequently than half a day per fortnight. Treatment is offered to eating disorder sufferers until recovery rather than in a time frame. We would like funding to run a support group for family and friends of eating disorders sufferers, with a view to expanding this in the future. We ask the ACT Government to comply with the Worldwide Charter For Action On Eating Disorders (attached) in their provision of services. These services are the bare minimum that should be provided, free of charge to the community.

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Annette CabreraBy:
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ACT Government and ACT Health

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