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Mental Health and Wellbeing – Eating Disorder Clinic


Rosalie Woodruff MP

Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Tags: Mental Health

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, we've long been concerned about the lack of a dedicated eating disorder clinic and relevant step-up, step-down services in Tasmania. I understand there's been some movement in this area and the Butterfly Foundation has both national and local representatives on a steering committee in relation to this. Can you please tell me where the $10 million that was allocated by the federal government to a stand-alone eating disorder clinic has gone and where it's up to? What will it go towards? Could you talk about funding over the next period for service delivery in each of the three regions?

Mr ROCKLIFF - Yes, I can. The $10 million is in two $5 million chunks, but I'll come to that in more detail.

Services for Tasmanians experiencing eating disorders are currently provided by the public and private health providers. I'm very passionate about this. I have represented constituents from the north west coast many years ago on this matter, very young people. Services in the public system include child and adolescent mental health services, adult and community mental health services, paediatric outpatient clinics and hospital inpatient settings.

The state government also funds the Butterfly Foundation to provide services, as you've mentioned, to people experiencing or at risk of experiencing an eating disorder and the families of these people.

This includes a peer support program for adults recovering from eating disorders and family members and carers of people experiencing or recovered from eating disorders. To address a nationwide shortage of eating disorder specialists the Australian Government has funded 5000 places across Australia for online training eating disorder treatment which will be rolled through the InsideOut Institute. Within Tasmania 163 places have been made available across the public and private mental health sector, with 100 of these places allocated to public staff.

The Australian Government has also committed $10 million to the construction of an eating disorder residential treatment facility in Hobart. Tasmania will receive this funding in stages. Five million dollars has been provided with the receipt of the remaining $5 million to be provided over the 2021 22 and 2023 24 financial years. The centre is currently being developed alongside the development of the St John's Park integrated mental health hub and there are opportunities to achieve economies of scale during that construction period. This would see both centres being built in the 2021 22 financial year.

A model of care for the services to be provided by the facility is currently being developed, with input from an expert working group, including a variety of health professionals and also people with a lived experience of eating disorders. This will inform the design of the centre. Although the model of care is still under development, the treatment centre will include a residential services stream and a day program stream. It is currently envisaged to be an all-ages service that is available for all Tasmanians that require it.

Of interest to northern members, consideration is also being given as to how capital funding can support the development of eating disorder day program spaces in the north and the north west. These programs would be linked to a residential service. Primary Health Tasmania is participating in the working group to ensure effective connections between primary health services such as GPs and state-delivered services such as the Tasmanian Eating Disorder Service. The Tasmanian Eating Disorder Service and the Eating Disorder Centre will be developed to meet the needs of Tasmanians and provide safe, high quality services to Tasmanians experiencing eating disorders and their families.

The project will soon be contacting other sectors to discuss potential capacity building requirements or activities that could be undertaken by the service once operational. Probably your next question, staffing requirements of the facility will be informed by the model of care with input from an expert working group. Some of the staffing will likely be drawn from existing resources. Any need for additional resources would be established during next year, in 2021, based on the model of care and reflected in future budget bids.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you. The step-up and step-down services that are part of a functional and effective response to eating disorders in an on-going way, I understand that the considered best practice would be if they were across each of the three regions in Tasmania. What step-up step-down services are being proposed for the north west, the north and the south? You have talked about the residential day facilities. Would that cover step-up and step-down with that facility?

Mr WEBSTER - Through you, minister, the residential facility will be in the south at St John's Park. There will be a residential day service, which is the first of those step-downs if you like. As the minister said, we are developing the concept and the model of care to include the capital extending to day services in the north and north west. It is critical that those day services in our model of care are close to where people are living because we want to start giving them lived experiences that are in their own communities. That's why the model has been expanded to include a north and north-west so we've got a step-down back into community. Then beyond the day service there is the ongoing continuing care stream of mental health.

Dr WOODRUFF - Would that step-down facility be for people who have been in residential care, or are you talking about a step-up facility really, a bit of both?

Mr WEBSTER - Not necessarily. It's step-up and step-down so it would step down from residential and step up from community.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Eating disorders are estimated to affect approximately 9 per cent of the Australian population, which is a very high percentage. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychological or psychiatric condition and over 12 times higher than for people without the eating disorders so there is a need to invest and improve this area.

Dr WOODRUFF - There's also been an increase during COVID-19 in young people in eating disorders. Thanks.