Funding assistance for eating disorders

Governments yesterday pledged to increase assistance to the one million Australians with eating disorders, after a new report exposed the devastating and social costs to the community.

Federal Minister for Mental Health Mark Butler said just over $1.9 million dollars would be provided to the Butterfly Foundation for its support and information services for people with eating disorders.

"This new funding will expand the Butterfly Foundation's free telephone support line and enable it to begin providing web-based counselling and peer support," Mr Butler said.

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"Families and carers will also be provided with improved access to web-based education and training as part of the expansion."

Mr Butler also said a further $150,000 would be provided to the foundation to identify possible improvements to programs provided by Commonwealth, state and territory governments and privately funded services.

NSW Minister for Mental Health Kevin Humphries said he recognised the serious nature of eating disorders.

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"I understand just how cruel and distressing eating disorders can be, and the impact they can have on a person's life," Mr Humphries said.

The Paying the Price report identifies some major reforms governments need to undertake, including better collection of data around eating disorders, supporting GPs to identify people suffering from an eating disorder, and working with private health insurers to increase coverage.

Mr Humphries said the state government was training clinicians throughout NSW to identify and treat eating disorders so that treatment could begin as early as possible.

"Contrary to the figures listed in the report, in NSW public hospitals there are five highly specialised adult beds and 20 specialist adolescent beds for eating disorder patients," he said.

"But it is also important to remember that any person who is medically compromised and is assessed as requiring hospital treatment has access to a bed in NSW.

"We are committed to ensuring that people suffering with eating disorders have access to the most appropriate support and treatment, no matter where they live in NSW."

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