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8 September 2021

Dr. Marisa Paterson MLA is sponsoring a petition led by community member, Mrs. Kate Steen, calling for improved eating disorder support services in the ACT.

Following her recent diagnosis with anorexia nervosa, Mrs. Steen - a 34-year-old mother and lawyer - discovered that there are no in-patient services for people living with eating disorders in the ACT and only one public specialist outpatient treatment option. Despite the best efforts of a dedicated team, the Eating Disorders Program in Phillip has a months-long waitlist.

Mrs. Steen said: “It takes guts to ask for help, and to be told that it won’t be provided for such a long time is more than heartbreaking - it’s incomprehensible.”

The Eating Disorders Program and the ACT Government’s Eating Disorder Position Statement go some way to recognising the need for increased services, and the Commonwealth and ACT Governments have committed $13.5 million to building a purpose-clinic with funds to be spent this financial year.

However, for many suffering eating disorders in the ACT, the need for care remains urgent.

Dr. Paterson stated: “There are many people in our community in a similar situation to Mrs. Steen. Across Australia, eating disorders affect approximately 4 in every 100 people. We need to provide appropriate, dedicated support services.

“This petition calls on the ACT Government to provide an update on the actions that have been taken to improve access to the Eating Disorders Program, to review the demand for eating disorder support services to ensure appropriate resourcing, and a refresh of the Position Statement.”

Mrs. Steen commented further, stating: “An eating disorder is a time-critical issue and unfortunately moments of clarity in the journey are too few and far between. The system has to be positioned to take people in as soon as they reach out for help.”

Statement ends

If you need support for an eating disorder, please contact The Butterfly Foundation on 1800 334 673