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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2021) . . Page.. 421 ..

Eating disorders are common—too common—and not enough is being done. Research shows that eating disorders and disordered eating impact between four and 16 per cent of the population and that this number continues to rise. In 2012 research found that 63 per cent of those with an eating disorder in Australia were women. However, specific disorders such as binge eating are experienced by males and females alike. The average age for the onset of an eating disorder is between 12 and 25 years of age. Many disorders disproportionally impact young people.

Given the comorbidity of eating disorders with other mental health issues, treatment can be complex and long term. However, a 2015 report by the Butterfly Foundation and Deloitte Access Economics highlights that only between five to 15 per cent of people receive treatment for their eating disorder. As is common with mental health and addiction issues, there are significant barriers to seeking help. But one of the major barriers in the ACT is not that families do not want help; it is that help does not exist in the form of a residential facility.

Severe eating disorders can require very specialised, long-term medical treatment to effectively save an individual’s life. As a mum of three children, including two daughters, who are about to enter into their teenage years, I feel enormous compassion for those families who grapple with eating disorders on a daily basis. Parents I have spoken to are distraught as to how to support their child. I would like to read a quote from a father whose daughter has experienced a severe eating disorder:

Eating disorders are devastating in that none of us really fully understand or can rationalise the problem. The problem persists over an extended period of time and the stresses placed on the family are immense as you watch your loved one deteriorate before your eyes with almost no support until the disease is life threatening. In our case, our eldest daughter had to leave home to protect herself from the toxic environment that evolved as a result of the constant pressures in the family environment that come from an eating disorder.

One of the most striking features for me personally in my discussions with people in the local community about eating disorders is how deeply it impacts the entire family. Many of us take our family mealtimes for granted, but for some in our community it is a deeply distressing daily battle. The federal government promised the Canberra community a residential eating disorder clinic in 2019, and as we turn our heads to the next federal election this promise is looking emptier by the minute. Senator Seselja may not have talked about it since it was announced in 2019; however, for the families in the ACT that are desperate for treatment and are deeply struggling, it is an everyday conversation.

Indian agricultural reform protests

Ahmadiyya Muslim Association

MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (4.25): The plight of Indian farmers protesting the reform of agriculture laws has affected and concerned our Indian community here in Canberra. The Canberra Punjabi Sports & Cultural Association recently wrote to me. They are the friends, relatives, children and grandchildren of Indian farmers, many of them now living and contributing to the Canberra community and our economy.

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