Eating Disorders Queensland’s (EDQ) response to Four Corners “Fading Away: Australia’s secret battle with eating disorders” segment

Four Corners aired an episode entitled “Fading Away: Australia’s secret battle with eating disorders” on the evening of 28/02/2023.

The segment highlighted the devastating impact of eating disorders on individuals and their families and emphasised the urgent need for increased support and resources for those impacted by eating disorders.

Eating Disorders Queensland shares Four Corners’ concerns about the prevalence of eating disorders in Australia and the need for greater awareness, education, and resources to address this serious public health issue. Eating disorders are complex conditions with severe physical, emotional, and social consequences and require specialised treatment by trained professionals and peer support.

EDQ Lived Experience Worker in recovery from an eating disorder, Michelle, reflected

“I felt that the 4-Corners documentary did not acknowledge the diversity and complexity of the eating disorder experience outside of inpatient treatment….Eating disorder recovery is a ‘long haul’ that requires both commitment from the person working towards recovery and also a scaffolding of support around the individual at different stages of the journey. Holding hope for full recovery is so important as there can be many moments of relapse and hopelessness along the way. Hope is what can keep you moving towards recovery”.

Four Corners drew national attention to the severe nature of eating disorders and the difficulties some families face in receiving appropriate care. Currently, we are advocating, alongside individuals and their key support systems, for:

  • Timely admission and adherence to protocols for re-nourishing on medical wards.
  • Appropriate training of medical staff in re-nourishing protocols, trauma-informed treatment practices and client-centred treatment.
  • Integrated treatment approach between medical and mental health services.
  • Early diagnosis, particularly for people with a higher weight.
  • Making eating disorders identification and treatment core business by training professionals and ongoing implementation of evidenced-based trauma-informed practices.
  • Funding for Wandi Nerida, a specialised inpatient treatment facility for eating disorders, an ongoing advocacy priority.

There is hope for treatment support and complete recovery, as reiterated by EDQ board member and leading eating disorder psychiatrist Dr Warren Ward “It’s a fully recoverable condition, but you can’t recover on your own.
Across Queensland, existing services are being enhanced, and new specialist eating disorder services are being launched through Hospital and Health Services under Queensland Health’s “Better Care Together” Plan. An additional $34 million is being invested over five years through this plan to improve further the service gaps highlighted above.
EDQ will provide additional Individual and carer lived experience support through this roll-out, attached to the specialised eating disorder services.
EDQ has received funding to provide additional, structured psychological treatment services under QLD’s bilateral agreement with the federal government (totalling $10.4 million over five years for the system in general).
This funding has enabled us to cut our waitlist from 12 months to 3 months, with immediate availability to access lived experience peer support and group treatment.

Read EDQ’s full response statement here.