Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (20:55): (2041) My adjournment matter relates to eating disorders and the lack of an eating disorder strategy. We know that an eating disorder is a serious mental illness and we know that it is characterised by a whole range of issues, whether that is behaviours and attitudes to food and eating or whether it is a preoccupation with exercise and body weight and shape. We have certainly all seen in the media the significant rise in eating disorders over COVID.
In some ways, when I met with Eating Disorders Victoria just last week—I hate to say it—I was somewhat comforted to hear that this rise in eating disorders was not just in Victoria but across Australia and in fact across the world. So it was not necessarily linked to lockdowns; it appears to be linked to the anxiety of COVID and the anxiety that was a global experience. What we saw, and we were grateful, was that the government did commit funds to uplifting eating disorder services in the May budget.
It was unclear why they chose where they will provide that funding. Certainly what we did not see was an eating disorder strategy. That is pretty much what my adjournment matter is about—asking for an eating disorder strategy or an update on that—because what I learned from Eating Disorders Victoria last week is that eating disorders are actually the most deadly of all mental illnesses. Schizophrenia, depression—more people die from eating disorders than any of those other mental illnesses.
So the action I am seeking is for the minister to provide an update to the sector specifying where the strategy is up to, what funding will be allocated and to which services funding will be allocated. As I say, young people’s lives quite literally depend on this.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Adjournment debate 4/8/22
The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring support is available for Victorians living with an eating disorder to recover and live happy, healthy lives.
Demand for eating disorders services has increased both during the COVID-19 pandemic and consistently over the past decade. Unprecedented global events and the pervasive impact of social media has seen an increase, particularly for young Victorians, in new eating disorders and relapses – a statistic that is sadly replicated worldwide.
Eating disorders are a very serious mental illness. Not only do eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, but people experiencing an eating disorder also are disproportionately more likely to experience other forms of mental illness – with rates of anxiety and depression 32 times higher for people with anorexia than the general population.
The Victorian Budget 2022-23 invests $20 million in new funding to support Victorians impacted by eating disorders. This includes community-based supports for consumers, carers and families; a workforce capability uplift; multidisciplinary specialist care models in metropolitan and regional health services; and greater capacity to deliver acute bed-based care for Victorians with eating disorders.
It also includes funding to develop a new statewide eating disorders strategy to guide a more systemic and coordinated response to support people living with eating disorders, as well as their carers, families, and supporters.
The strategy will be developed by the Department of Health in partnership with Eating Disorders Victoria and the Centre of Excellence in Eating Disorders – also ensuring that the voices of people with lived and living experience of eating disorders are included in the strategy development.
Public engagement on the strategy is expected to commence later this year, with the strategy expected to be completed in 2023.
Gabrielle Williams MP
Minister for Mental Health
Minister for Treaty and First Peoples