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NEDC e-Newsletter

Issue 2, Spring 2012

Note from the National Director

Welcome to the September issue of the NEDC e-Newsletter.

We have had a very busy couple of months and the last month in particular has seen a flurry of activity as we prepared for the 2012 National Workshop that was held on 22nd and 23rd August. After the hard work it was great to see everything come together and we had an energetic and rewarding two days in Adelaide focusing on evidence sharing, professional development and discussion of strategic priorities. More on the National Workshop later in the e-Newsletter!

The National Workshop is only one of projects we have been working on that has produced tangible results. We are very pleased to confirm that the NEDC National Framework and Communications Strategy Report have both been formally accepted by the Department of Health and Ageing. This means that we can both broadly disseminate the reports and, most importantly, engage in conversation and strategies on how the contents of both reports can be implemented. Our sincere thanks are given to all the members who have contributed to those reports.

Since the last e-Newsletter you may have also received our first two e-Bulletins. Designed to create a bridge between research and practice, the e-Bulletin is a monthly communication to subscribers which draws attention to information and resources accessible from the NEDC website. Both e-Bulletins have been received by over four hundred people and feedback from subscribers has been very positive. The e-Bulletin has also generated visible outcomes in terms of bookings for the 2012 National Workshop and growth in our web audience and social media platforms.

Our officially launched website has been live for five months and we have completed several online communication reports exploring traffic and user interaction with positive results. To date there have been more than 15,000 hits on the website with our daily visit rate growing consistently. We have also seen support for our Facebook and Twitter pages ‘take off’ with social media users responding well to our regular updates and our focus on quality, positive content.

With several major goals achieved, there is still much to do over the next few months. We continue to work on the Gap Analysis Report and Prevention and Early Intervention Report, both of which are due at the end of the year. As with the National Framework and the Communication Strategy Report, member participation in and review of these reports is very important. A collaborative approach underpins all the work of the NEDC. We will be in touch with members over the next couple of months to ensure members have the opportunity to participate in and approve those reports.

Thank you to all who attended the National Workshop – it was great to have the opportunity to meet some new faces and be reacquainted with familiar ones. As ever, we appreciate hearing from you and it is very important to continue keeping us up to date. When new things are happening in your profession, service, region or state, we would love to hear about them and use the NEDC as a means of letting others also know. Our contact details are on the website, and we are always interested in a chat.

We look forward to your ongoing contribution.

Kind regards

Christine Morgan
National Director, National Eating Disorders Collaboration

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Members' information

Other conferences

The NEDC is reaching out to raise awareness. Our focus is to promote awareness of the NEDC, engage new members and advance eating disorders as a priority national health issue. To further this, NEDC and its members are targeting appropriate mental health and other conferences. NEDC staffed an exhibition stand at the 13th International Mental Health Conference and the 10th Annual ANZAED Conference. Most recently, NEDC members have promoted our work at the 15th NSW Rural Mental Health Conference. The response so far has been very positive but also has confirmed our need to proactively seek to raise awareness about eating disorders as a serious mental health disorder. Other conferences we are proposing to take our exhibition stand to include:

  • 47th Australian Psychological Society Annual Conference (September)
  • 38th International Mental Health Nursing Conference (October)
  • GP12 – the Conference for General Practice, RAACGP (October)
  • Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium (November)

If you are attending any of these events, drop by our exhibition stand for a chat! We would also love to hear from members who would like to promote NEDC at conferences they may be attending – if you would like to do so please get in touch with Eben or Amy from our NEDC team.

New Online Resources

Our website, officially launched in August by the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the Hon Mark Butler, has been live for five months now. In order to continue contributing to our goal of providing or facilitating access to helpful evidence based information for young people and their families, as well as identifying the best information available to help health practitioners and other professionals, we are developing new content and resources for the website.

Over the next month, our focus will be on developing new resources addressing eating disorders as they relate to men’s health. The development of resources specific to other key audiences including schools, young people, health professionals and culturally diverse and rural communities have also been planned. We are always alert for evidence based resources that are currently available - if you are aware of any please let us know as we will review them for inclusion on the NEDC website.

Partner Organisations

The NEDC has been provided with the opportunity to contribute to a ‘key messaging campaign focused on young people’ being undertaken by the Young and Well Being Cooperative Research Centre. This CRC is working across the three areas of youth, mental health and technology. The project being undertaken by the CRC has a 5 year scope and the messages to young people will now include those relating to eating disorders. We are also scheduling meetings with key organisations such as HeadSpace, Inspire and ReachOut to identify opportunities to distribute key messages about eating disorders to shared audiences.


Thank you to all Steering Committee members who contributed to the pilot of the NEDC Professional Collaboration Network, our new LinkedIn e-Network. The trial run for the e-Network has finished and we are now casting our net wider for new members. If you are a professional in clinical practice we would welcome your involvement. Details on how to join the e-Network can be found on our website.

While our current e-network has been developed specifically for clinicians, we are in the process of creating a sister network to focus on prevention and therefore with the intention to extend discussion to a broader network of teachers, youth workers and sport and fitness professionals. More details on this new network will provided in the near future.


Our membership is now over 390. It is particularly encouraging to note that all of the states and territories are well represented and we even have a few members from New Zealand.

However we would welcome even more support and encourage all members to speak broadly about what we are doing and encouraging anyone who is interested to apply either online at www.nedc.com.au/get-involved or by contacting Amy at amy@thebutterflyfoundation.org.au. The important work of NEDC for the remainder of this year is the gap analysis and the prevention and early intervention report. As we turn our focus to strategic priorities as identified in those reports, the input from all members is both encouraged and welcomed.

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2012 National Workshop report

workshop logo medium

In the opening video address for our National Workshop, the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the Hon Mark Butler stated, “today as you come together with your diverse and shared experience you are helping to transform the way in which our community deals with the harsh reality of this devastating mental illness”. Promoted with the tagline “Break the Silence on Eating Disorders: Join the Conversation”, coming together was our foremost goal for the 2012 National Workshop and the diverse, enthusiastic and proactive group that attended the event on the 22nd and 23rd of August certainly provided the “collaboration” part of our project name with energy and zeal.

Held this year in Adelaide in conjunction with the Annual ANZAED Conference and the South Australia Body Image Forum, we exceeded our expectations for audience attendance with 170 present for the National Workshop and 110 participating in the professional development workshops on the second day. Participants represented mental health, health promotion, education, sports and fitness, research and the media as well as those with a lived experience of an eating disorder. The day was led by our energetic and engaging emcee, Professor Stephen Touyz.

The role of epigenetics in the aetiology of eating disorders, person-centred treatment and the need for innovation in prevention were some of the key recurring themes of the event. The tone was innovative from the outset with day one kicking off with the vodcasted address by Minister Butler. In this short video currently viewable on our website, Minister Butler addresses the need for a nationally consistent approach to eating disorders, highlighting some of the challenges facing the eating disorders community. Minister Butler also officially launched our NEDC website.

This year we were privileged to have two renowned international keynote speakers, Professor Howard Steiger and Professor Mimi Israël. Professor Steiger is the Director of the Eating Disorders Program of the Douglas University Institute in Mental Health in Montreal, and Professor Israël is the attending psychiatrist for that program. Both Professor Steiger and Professor Israël delivered a keynote session and co-hosted afternoon workshops with Professor Susan Paxton and Professor Phillipa Hay who are members of our Steering Committee. They were a highly engaging and enthusiastic presence for the whole event, including the Q&A panel at the end of the first day.

The debate constantly returned to the need for cultural change, a theme that was set early in the day’s proceedings by Professor Pat McGorry AO, NEDC chair and Australian of the Year 2010. Professor McGorry delivered a highly relevant address on the contemporary state of mental health initiatives in Australia and he also participated in the Q&A panel discussion.

Grappling with diverse content from the dangers of dieting to the impact of genes on the risk factors for eating disorders, the audience contributed to discussion with great enthiusiasm. There was a genuine sense of energy as attendees considered innovative ideas and discussed opportunities and challenges informed by current research.

The National Workshop was also an opportunity to promote the NEDC’s goals and achievements on a broad platform. A number of media organisations covered the event including the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, and Channel Seven News, with Professor Steiger’s research into the epigenetics of eating disorders proving to be of particular appeal. We also had a significant amount of activity on Twitter during the event receiving over 190 tweets from our official event hashtag. Having promoted our event via the phrase “Break the Silence” it has been rewarding to see the NEDC National Workshop, the ANZAED conference and the SA Body Image Forum inspire a wider conversation about eating disorders and risk factors including negative body image.

Special thanks go to Professor Stephen Touyz who did a fantastic job as the event emcee. As an extremely engaging host, he brought warmth and humour to the event throughout the day, skilfully integrating questions from the floor into key discussions, inspiring a lively debate and high quality of engagement. Stephen also did a good job of keeping us on time despite our best efforts to stray...!

We are still compiling our feedback but the response from participants on the day and since the event has been very positive. In the words of one of our workshop participants: “Yet again, another successful engaging and very informative conference. We just have to keep pushing the agenda onwards and upwards to the top!”

Copies of the keynote presentations will be released next week in the NEDC monthly e-Bulletin

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2012 Professional Development Workshops

Communications workshop

To coincide with the National Workshop Minister Butler launched a new Mindframe reference guide addressing the reporting and portrayal of eating disorders. The launch of this new resource provided an excellent lead in for the Communications professional development workshop which focused on evidenced based key messages about eating disorders to different target audiences.

In groups participants engaged in real life scenarios, evaluating some current physical and mental health campaigns. Participants had the opportunity to create their own public health campaigns, contemplating new ideas and challenges for greater synergy and collaboration for key audiences. Marc Bryant from Mindframe also presented on the new reference guide.

This was the first time that communications specialists in the area of mental health from different organisations have come together to discuss the effective communication of eating disorders in the public health sector – an achievement in itself.

Prevention Workshops

With prevention high on the NEDC agenda, we provided two interactive workshops. In the morning session, Laura Hart led a workshop entitled “Should I say something?” With a focus on delivering the Mental Health First Aid Guidelines for Eating Disorders, developed by Laura in conjunction with the Orygen Youth Health Research Centre and La Trobe University, the group discussed the who, what, when, where and why of eating disorders, and how we can provide early intervention, and encourage help-seeking for young people identified at risk of developing an eating disorder. With a practical emphasis on what to say, how to say it and ways of managing concerns, the feedback was that people felt enabled to begin the difficult conversations about eating disorders, with more confidence that the answer to “Should I say something?” is a resounding YES!

Danni Rowlands continued the momentum in the afternoon workshop on Prevention in Practice. Taking a detailed look at the evidence base for the precursors to eating disorders, Danni exposed the myths of dieting, body esteem, media literacy and the other major risk factors for eating disorders. The group discussed the prevention strategies currently being practiced in their area, and how we can get the broader society involved in disseminating effective prevention messages.

The information generated from this group will contribute to the NEDC Prevention and Early Intervention Report, through the identification of strategies for implementation, integration of messages across the sectors and health services, and ideas for taking the “next steps” to create a paradigm shift in the Australian culture.

Evidence from experience

A group of around 50 participants spent the day exploring practical and effective ways of enabling people with experience of eating disorders and their carers to engage in the process of consumer participation.

Consumer participation has been a major focus in mental health standards and mental health service development over the last decade. Research studies have demonstrated what we already know from experience, that people with experience of a mental illness can often develop more meaningful and relevant ideas for service development than professionals with no personal experience.

The workshop included real-life examples of the ways in which people who had recovered from an eating disorder have been able to use their knowledge and experience to contribute to service development and improvement. Consumer experience included participating in training for health professionals working in the field, running peer support and education programs for other sufferers, getting involved and working in community based support agencies, delivering education programs in schools and the community, and representing sufferers on advisory panels and bodies.

The participants also reviewed draft guidelines for consumer participation in the mental health field, and provided feedback and insight into how these guidelines could be strengthened to ensure they are appropriate and effective for people with eating disorders, their family and carers.

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Member profile

The NEDC’s 390 members represent a wealth of knowledge, experience and talent. Each issue of the e-Newsletter we will be profiling one of our members, highlighting their achievements and illustrating different ways members can get involved. This issue, to coincide with the release of the Mindframe guide to reporting and portrayal of eating disorders we will be profiling Jaelea Skehan, Program Manager of Mindframe at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

Jaelea Skehan is a Program Manager at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and holds a conjoint appointment with the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle. She is a registered psychologist and currently completing a PhD in Psychiatry based on the translation of evidence into practice in suicide prevention.

Jaelea has broad experience in translating the evidence for mental health promotion, prevention of mental ill-health and the prevention of suicide to a range of settings and sectors with a specific expertise in media reporting and portrayal of suicide and mental illness. For the past 10 years Jaelea has been leading the education and training component of the Mindframe National Media Initiative in Australia aimed at promoting responsible and accurate portrayal of suicide and mental illness.

Jaelea is a member of the International Taskforce for Suicide and the Media and has written a number of peer-reviewed publications about suicide and the media and mental illness and the media. She has led the development of resources and professional development for journalism and public relations students, news and entertainment media, the mental health and suicide prevention sectors, police and courts.

Jaelea has been involved in a range of other national, state and local projects incorporating multi-media resource development, health promotion, program evaluation and education and training. She currently manages staff working on community arts projects such as Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog and the MindPlay drama festival.

Short Questionnaire

What led you to be involved in the NEDC?

Becoming involved in the NEDC was an easy choice for me personally and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health as an organisation. Firstly, I have a specific interest in and knowledge about building capacity across health and community settings to understand and apply principles of mental health promotion and prevention of mental ill-health. Working with the NEDC was an opportunity to apply this knowledge and passion to the eating disorders sector. Secondly, as the Program Manager of the Mindframe National Media Initiative, I had been working with the Australian media and health sectors about the reporting and portrayal of mental illness for the past 10 years. I always felt we could and should expand our focus to include specific advice around the portrayal of eating disorders and joining the NEDC was an important leverage point to make this happen. Finally, I have worked as a psychologist with clients living with an eating disorder and so I came in having knowledge about how eating disorders can impact on a person, their family, friends and wider community.

What are your hopes for the outcomes of the NEDC?

I really hope that the NEDC can facilitate a greater awareness and focus on eating disorders in both health and community settings. I also hope that work under the NEDC will lead to specific issues around the prevention of eating disorders being integrated into all of our national programs and initiatives in mental health. We have a great foundation in Australia with programs focused on mental health promotion and the prevention of mental illness being rolled out in schools, through the media, through health and community services. These programs should be enhanced and improved to ensure they can be utilised to increase literacy about eating disorders, address the specific risk factors for eating disorders and promote help-seeking at the earliest possible point.

What accomplishments of the NEDC are you most proud of to date?

I am really pleased to see that eating disorders are now being discussed in both national and state policy and also be considered by sectors such as the media, sporting clubs, workplaces and schools. This is a really positive step forward, especially for an issue that is driven by a small and specialised part of the mental health sector. Specifically, I am really excited about the partnership the NEDC and Mindframe have formed, resulting most recently in the development of a new resource for media professionals to guide best-practice reporting and portrayal of eating disorders. This was developed in collaboration with clinical experts and media professionals and can be accessed online at http://www.mindframe-media.info/site/index.cfm?display=84375. The resource is the start of further work to provide briefings and advice to media, develop activities to be integrated into undergraduate journalism programs and approaches to build the capacity of the eating disorders sector to work more proactively with the media.

To find out more about the work of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health visit www.himh.org.au and to access the Mindframe resources go to www.mindframe-media.info. Many thanks to Jaelea Skehan for her help!

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The NEDC gap analysis

A gap analysis is a strategy for determining how to move from a current state to a desired future. At its core are two questions: "Where are we?" and "Where do we want to be?"

The purpose of the NEDC Gap Analysis is to identify opportunities for practical action to implement a nationally consistent approach to eating disorders that can be implemented in the context of current policy, resources and practice. The gap analysis will therefore focus on identifying and recording actual practice and surveying perceived need. It is important that this investigation should not be limited to eating disorder specific services but should extend to actions in other sectors that may compliment or provide a platform for eating disorders action. The report will:

  • Profile current service delivery, practice approaches and information available in Australia
  • Identify any gaps or opportunities for development in services, information and practice approaches
  • Provide the federal government with a strategy to address any identified gaps.

In order to be able to write an analysis report and formulate strategic options to address identified gaps, the NEDC has needed to engage in an extensive data collection and analysis process. To identify current practice the NEDC has:

  • Commenced service mapping of current services available Australia-wide
  • Conducted a literature review
  • Conducted a review of available professional training
  • Undertaken online surveys of the eating disorder sector and those with a lived experience of eating disorders

To identify perceived needs in the sector the NEDC has also:

  • Collected information at the NEDC National Workshops
  • Conducted interviews and surveys with professionals who work with those with or at risk of an eating disorder and those with a lived experience of eating disorders
  • Consulted with NEDC members
  • Undertaken a literature review

The report will be provided to the federal government at the conclusion of 2012. This is a great opportunity to get involved and there are still opportunities available to contribute, particularly for services and clinicians working with clients who have or are at risk of an eating disorder.

If you would like to contribute information about your service to the NEDC service review visit here.

If you would like to share your experiences as a clinician working with eating disorders visit here.

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eating disorders 101

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