I’m delighted to share wonderful, wonderful news. At Home with Eating Disorders, the first Australian eating disorder conference for families, carers and
sufferers, has got the green light to proceed. This conference will take place in Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland, on May 23-25, 2013. The venue will be the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.
Our keynote speakers will be two of the people that I admire most in all of the world: Professor Janet Treasure, from King’s College, London; and Professor Daniel Le Grange, from the University of Chicago. These two researchers are leaders in the eating disorder field of research, and family is their focus. Other top line speakers are being sought to include in our lineup to best answer your questions, provide hope and inspiration. There will be plenty of opportunity for audience inter-action and, between sessions, socialising.
Whether you are at the stage where you are wondering if your child might have an eating disorder, or if you have been caring for a child for 10 years or more, or suffering yourself for many years, At Home with Eating Disorders is for you.
I first mentioned the conference here in January this year. Many of you have been waiting for more news, I know! And now we have it!
To re-cap, the catalyst for this event for Australia has come from the inaugural F.E.A.S.T. Conference held in Old Alexandria, Virginia, in November 2011. Led by F.E.A.S.T.’s indomitable executive director Laura Collins, the F.E.A.S.T.. conference was organized by carers for carers, in a bid to fill a gap in the support available to families and others caring for a loved one with an eating disorder.
The conference was so successful, another is being held in Virginia this year (‘There’s No Place Like Home’, November 30-December 1) and our carer friends in the United Kingdom are holding the inaugural ECHO/FEAST/Maudsley Carers Symposium, in Nottingham, November 23 and 24.
Together with and Bridget and Tim Bonnin, from Cairns, I attended the historic first F.E.A.S.T. Conference. Bridget and I serve on the executive board of the wonderful F.E.A.S.T. organisation and we returned home convinced that Aussie families and eating disorder sufferers deserved and needed a conference like this. The benefits of sharing experiences are immense. So we had the passion – all we had to do was make it happen.
In early December, during a break in a steering committee meeting of the NEDC in Sydney, Elaine Painter (Statewide team manager of the Eating Disorder Outreach Service for the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Queensland) mentioned Bridget had been in touch. And, hooray! Elaine was equally passionate about providing Australian families with a conference. So that made three of us.
Since then, we have been working on the logistics to make our conference dream a reality. And now it is all systems ‘go’!
Elaine has worked wonders in Brisbane, organising the venue and other ‘nuts and bolts’ matters. Both ANZAED and The Butterfly Foundation have also come on board.
Therefore, we have four organisations – F.E.A.S.T.., ANZAED, The Butterfly Foundation and EDOS – collaborating to bring eating disorders to the fore in Australia. Our organising committee, which has grown to eight, includes representatives from each of the four organisations. Importantly, the committee includes several carers and people who have lived with an eating disorder.
To achieve this level of collaboration between scientific, clinical and carer support organisations makes my heart sing because, to beat ‘ED’, we all need to work
together and be on the same page.
Our conference title sums up what eating disorders, for most of us, are about: being At Home with Eating Disorders.
At Home with Eating Disorders has several connotations, including:
1. ‘At home’ means we are aware, not afraid of eating disorders (because we have the best knowledge, able to make the best choices in our interest).
2. ‘At home’ also means the family home, where eating disorders develop and where the hard work of recovery takes place. Everyone in the home is affected and for the best outcome everyone in the family needs to be involved in recovery. This title is friendly, encouraging, and non-threatening – in the face of an illness that has the highest death rate of all mental illnesses.
3. The conference theme will revolve around sharing knowledge and experience, learning skills, and accessing the best information to help you make the best choices.
Standby for more details, including a registration link. This, and much, much more, will appear soon!
Look out ED, here we come!