In February this year, ABC dedicated their flagship investigative report, Four Corners, to eating disorders. This was, in part, because of a few Members of Parliament.
The MPs are Teal Independent Zoe Daniel, Liberal Andrew Wallace and Labor’s Susan Templeman. Based on continuous calls for help from their constituents, the three resolved to act for change. To start, they’re co-chairing a new Parliamentary Friends Group for Eating Disorder Awareness to highlight the critical need for more care and support.
“We've been absolutely avalanched in my office by families and people from across the country, saying that it really needs action,” says Zoe Daniel. “And it’s been interesting to have conversations with other MPs. Eating disorders aren't confined to the stereotypical groups.”
Susan Templeman agrees. “I don't think there's an elected office in the country where someone hasn't phoned in at the end of their tether, saying, I don't know what to do. My son or my daughter or my partner is suffering from an eating disorder, and I can't get the help that I need.”
Andrew Wallace was once in a Cabinet meeting where a senior health official assured the Prime Minister that Australia was getting on top of the issue. “I said, sorry, Prime Minister, but I totally disagree with what you've just been told,” he recalls. “We have absolutely no idea how you first suffer from it, why you suffer from it and, importantly, how you best treat it.”
As a carer, Wallace speaks from his own experience, as does Susan Templeman. Eating disorders are mental health issues that do not discriminate. And as more policymakers lean in to educate their political peers, the more hope there will be for real investment in care.
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