Issue 36 | Research and Resources 2015 - 2016

About this resource

NEDC e-Bulletin

Issue 36: The National Eating Disorders Collaboration of 2015

December is always a time to reflect and recap on the year’s activities and outcomes as we all prepare for a break and recuperation ahead of the New Year. For the National Eating Disorders Collaboration particularly it is a time to reflect on our achievements with our e-bulletin readers for the last time in the year and reiterate the value of your support as a subscriber.


1. A Message from the NEDC National Director

2. Regional Forums Activity

3. NEDC Research and Resources 2015-2016

4. Workforce Development 2015-2016


A Message from the NEDC National Director

December is always a time to reflect and recap on the year’s activities and outcomes as we all prepare for a break and recuperation ahead of the New Year. For the National Eating Disorders Collaboration particularly it is a time to reflect on our achievements with our e-bulletin readers for the last time in the year and reiterate the value of your support as a subscriber.

2015 marked many occasions of which we are proud. Our flagship event, the National Members’ Meeting, saw more than 180 delegates converge on Canberra to listen to, watch and workshop the latest in evidence, the latest treatment methodologies, workforce development, consumer participation and a focus on technology in the treatment and education space. Our keynote address shared by Professor Susan Paxton (NEDC Deputy Chair, and a leading researcher in the field of body image for more than twenty years) and Dr Sarah Maguire, Director of the NSW Centre for Eating Disorders and Dieting (CEDD)) showcased the latest in preventative research and emerging evidence for treatment and education in the online learning space. We are busying ourselves already for the 2016 NEDC National Members Meeting, this time to be held in Brisbane in mid-June 2016. If you wish to keep informed and updated on the program and speakers, you are welcome to join our membership and ensure you receive the latest news.

Our continued focus has been building the evidence base and sharing knowledge with our members in the prevention of, treatment for and recovery from eating disorders – illnesses that affect up to 9% of Australians each year. Our research team has been focusing on updating our knowledge hub as the research and evidence on eating disorders builds. Read more on the achievements of the NEDC research team throughout 2015 and the scope and plans for 2016.

Carers, healthcare professionals, schools and other personal supporters of people living with an eating disorder are essential to their recovery. The community impact of eating disorders can never be understated. The NEDC Regional Forums program has been instrumental in reaching such groups through delivering Introduction to Eating Disorders Workshops, Carers’ Networks, General Practitioner and Medical Professionals Seminars, and Schools Educational Programs. With the federal Government announcing a strong regional focus for the implementation of service delivery for mental health into the future, the NEDC will continue to meet our commitment to this essential strategy for eating disorders. Our work with regional Australia can be explored here.

The first half of 2016 will see the continuation of our adaptation of the NEDC Eating Disorders Workforce Core Competencies across a range of primary and allied health care providers, working with peak bodies that represent the various health disciplines involved in the treatment of eating disorders. If you believe your own medical or allied health association or college could make a contribution to additional workforce development and core competency frameworks for your workplace, I encourage you to contact the NEDC.

For those living with an eating disorder, Christmas can be a particularly challenging time of year. Please make use of the network of helplines if needed over the holidays, or any time.

Thank you to all who have participated with us in the NEDC this year. Wishing you and your loved ones a happy Christmas and all best wishes for 2016.

Kind regards
Christine Morgan
National Director
The National Eating Disorders Collaboration


Back to Top


Regional Forums Activity

Over the last year, the NEDC has been busy providing ongoing professional development, networking and resource opportunities for multidisciplinary professionals and organisations across Australia in a variety of different ways. We have established new, built on existing and expanded the scope of fruitful relationships and collaborative partnerships to make these forums happen. We are most grateful to all who have supported and participated in the NEDC’s continuing free professional development forums held in regional centres across Australia.

According to the particular needs of the regional communities we visit, the NEDC has provided professional and workforce development programs in the following subject areas:
a) Introduction to Eating Disorders for Health Professionals
b) Introduction to Eating Disorders for School Professionals
c) Introduction to Eating Disorders for School Counsellors
d) GP Eating Disorders Information Evenings
e) Community-based and Integrated approaches to Eating Disorders
f) Professional Health and Education Network Opportunities to initiate sustainable workforce connections across the rural and regional area after the Forums have taken place.

In last 12 months, NEDC Regional Forums were delivered:
• In every State and Territory multiple times
• In over 25 locations
• To over 700 participants
• Over 37,000+ kms transited in rolling out the regional forums

Our 2015 Regional Forums program has included:

Port Macquarie / Kempsey / Coffs Harbour, NSW – Feb 2015
Collaborative Partners: Healthy Communities in the Macleay Valley
Total Forum Participants: 135
Multiple sessions included:

  • Introduction to Eating Disorders for Health Professionals – Kempsey & Port Macquarie
  • Introduction to Eating Disorders for School Professionals – Port Macquarie & Coffs Harbour
  • Introduction to Eating Disorders for School Counsellors – Coffs Harbour


Ballina and Lismore, NSW – March 2015
Additional Presenters: Dr Elizabeth Rieger, Research specialist in eating disorders and obesity, Australian National University.
Total Forum Participants: 60
Specialist Presentation:Dr Elizabeth Rieger delivered a skills training session regarding motivation to change and eating disorders.

Additional sessions:

  • Eating Disorders for School Professionals


Hobart and Devonport, TAS – March 2015
Collaborative Partners: Tasmanian Health, Education and Community sector coordinators.
Total Forum Participants: 30
Sessions included:

  • Concurrent introductory to eating disorders sessions for both Health and Education Professionals


Albany and Geraldton, WA – March 2015
Collaborative Partners: Eating Disorder Training & Evaluation Centre (EDTEC), Princess Margaret Hospital; Western Australian Centre for Rural Health.
Total Forum Participants: 45
Multiple sessions included:

  • Eating Disorders Identification & Assessment
  • Eating Disorders Management Strategies


Sale, Gippsland , VIC – April 2015
Collaborative Partners: The Victorian Centre for Excellence in Eating Disorders (CEED); Eating Disorders Victoria (EDV).
Total Forum Participants: 80
Sessions conducted in collaboration with CEED (VIC) and EDV, included:

  • Introduction to Eating Disorders for Health Professionals
  • Community-based and Integrated approaches to Eating Disorders
  • Gippsland Eating Disorders Carers and Community Session
  • Introduction to Eating Disorders for School Professionals
  • Triage & Inpatient Management session at Latrobe Regional Hospital (facilitated by CEED)


Cairns, QLD – late April 2015
Collaborative Partners: The Eating Disorders Outreach Service (EDOS), QLD Health; Cairns Hospital Network; Far North Queensland Medicare Local; headspace Cairns; Community-based health services.
Specialist Presenters: Dr Warren Ward, Director, EDOS, Chief Training Supervisor, RBWH.
Total Forum Participants: 80
The program combined NEDC activities and workshops with EDOS specialist training in areas of eating disorders expertise; including:

  • Introduction to Eating Disorders for Health Professionals
  • Integrated Community Approaches to Eating Disorders
  • GP Eating Disorders Information Evening  -This session was presented by Dr Warren Ward, consultant psychiatrist, the Director of the Eating Disorder Outreach Service & Chief Training Supervisor at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and a Senior Lecturer at the School of Medicine, University of Queensland.
     - Approx. 25 local GPs and medical specialists attending this session. Very positively received.
  • Introduction to Eating Disorders for School Professionals


Whyalla and Port Lincoln, SA – May 2015
Specialist Presenters: Professor Tracey Wade, Dean, School of Psychology, Flinders University delivered a specialised session on Current Perspectives on Prevention of Eating Disorders for Health Professionals, following the NEDC Introduction to Eating Disorders session to a multidisciplinary group of professionals.
Total Forum Participants: 26
Additional sessions that were facilitated for local professionals included:

  • Introduction to Eating Disorders for Health Professionals
  • Introduction to Eating Disorders for School Professionals – multiple schools in Whyalla were visited and NEDC information and resources shared with key student welfare staff.


Darwin and Alice Springs, NT – late May 2015
Collaborative Partners: Department of Education and the Centre of Remote Health.
Specialist Presenters: Dr Chris Thornton, renowned clinical psychologist with over 20 years clinical experience working with patients with eating disorders delivered a workshop to 35 local area health service providers.
Total Forum Participants: 55 Additional sessions that were facilitated for local professionals included:

  • Introduction to Eating Disorders for Education Professionals
  • Alice Springs Eating Disorders Forum for Schools
  • Alice Springs Eating Disorders Forum for Health Professionals


Mildura, VIC – early June 2015
Collaborative Partners: The Victorian Centre for Excellence in Eating Disorders (CEED); Eating Disorders Victoria (EDV), Local Health District Hospitals and community services.
Total Forum Participants: 50
Sessions conducted in collaboration with CEED (VIC) and EDV, included:

  • Mildura Eating Disorders GP Information Dinner
  • Mildura Eating Disorders Forum for Health Professionals 2015 (Introduction & Community-based and Integrated approaches to Eating Disorders)
  • Introduction to Eating Disorders for School Professionals

Our most recent Forum packages have been dispatched to the following locations:

Creswick/Daylesford/Ballarat/Bacchus Marsh, VIC – Oct 2015
The NEDC was an exhibitor at the 7th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Conference in Creswick, Victoria in late October 2015. This provided the perfect foray to connect with the local community whilst in the area. As a result, approx. 60 professionals from local schools, as well as youth mental and health wellbeing support services attended a number of different professional development sessions in this region.

Alice Springs, NT – Nov 2015
The NEDC facilitated a successful series of education workshops in Alice Springs across the course of a week in mid-November 2015 in collaboration and partnership with a number of key Alice Springs health, hospital, community and human services. Close to 80 professionals had the opportunity to engage with evidence based knowledge, practice and professional networking and resources. In a location that is extremely remote and has some unique characteristics, good steps were taken to help address some of the workforce development needs of the local community.

In the first half of 2016 we are planning on visiting or returning to the following locations:
• Hobart and Northern Tasmania, TAS
• Gippsland, VIC
• Broken Hill, NSW
• Murray Bridge, SA
• Central Queensland, QLD
• Broome, WA

Registration for these sessions when they become available can be found on our website and event calendar.


Back to Top


NEDC Research and Resources 2015-2016

It has been a busy year for the research team with a number of projects now well underway.

The NEDC continued development of a number of key resources in the areas of Pregnancy and Early Childcare , Dentistry, and Pharmacy. These resources join our growing suite of material designed to set the standard for information dissemination across all areas that could deal with eating disorders, and we will be continuing to publish additional materials in 2016.

Our major research and development project for 2015 has been the launch of, a purpose-built portal for eating disorders information and help-seeking channels for people who may be dealing with an eating disorder personally, or may be concerned about a friend, colleague, student or family member. It has proven an excellent resource for early identification and accessing information. Developed with ReachOut, the NEDC is proud of this collaborative effort and opportunity for people looking for help to receive the most accurate, up to date and safe information.

Our primary focus in the past few months has been on conducting a systematic, evidence-based literature review of all prevention, early intervention and eating disorder treatments published within the past 6 years. This project extends upon and updates an existing literature review published by the NEDC in 2009, and provides an empirical foundation for the management of eating disorders in Australia. Alongside this review, we will be conducting a second evidence review in the New Year that focuses on the physical and mental health outcomes associated with treatment for obesity, as well as the impact of weight reduction interventions on eating disorders. There is a significant degree of shared interest between the obesity and eating disorders sectors, and an urgent need to facilitate evidence-informed dialogue between these sectors. This review endeavours to identify the intended as well as unintended outcomes of obesity treatment and explore their association with eating disorders, in order to contribute to the safe and effective management of these interrelated disorders.

Further to these large-scale reviews, we are in the process of developing a number of eating disorder-specific ‘mini-reviews’ that provide a concise overview of the current evidence base for eating disorders treatments. We have also recently completed an evidence-based resource for pharmacists that outlines the signs of symptoms of eating disorders that pharmacists are uniquely situated to recognize. Pharmacists are often the first health professional that a person with eating disorders will come in contact with, and can play a vital role in the detection of eating disorders.


Back to Top


Workforce Development 2015-2016

Eating disorders require treatment that is specific to the illness. Working with patients with eating disorders requires disorder specific knowledge and skill. In Australia the majority of health professionals do not have the knowledge or skill to safely and effectively treat people with eating disorders. An investigation conducted by the NEDC as part of the 2013 Gap Analysis Report found that 97% of clinicians surveyed had received no or insufficient training in eating disorders to enable them to provide treatment with confidence.

The outcome is delayed access to treatment or access to inappropriate treatment; increased physical and mental health consequences for patients; a longer course of illness with an increased risk of relapse and recurrence; and a higher social and economic impact.

A skilled workforce is essential to implement the standards and treatment strategies of the Eating Disorders National Standards Schema
To ensure access to eating disorder treatments in all communities, especially rural and remote communities, it is essential that general health care providers in primary and secondary health services are equipped and supported to provide treatment.

The NEDC finalised its recommendations on a set of Core Competencies to prevent and treat eating disorders in the middle of 2015 and were established to provide a framework for professional development across five functional workforce groups within the primary, secondary and allied health care networks:

  • Early identifiers: people who have a duty of care for the wellbeing of people in high risk groups for eating disorders and who are most likely to act as the first point of contact for people with eating disorders and their families. The role of early identifiers is to proactively engage people at risk to promote prevention and early help seeking.
  • Initial responders: primary health care providers who provide the first level of intervention, such as screening, initial assessment, initial diagnosis, and referral. Where safe and appropriate after a thorough eating disorder assessment, professionals in this group may also provide guided self-help for people with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.
  • Shared care treatment providers: health professionals who provide treatment or support for the consequences of an eating disorder (e.g. medical monitoring and treatment) or for comorbid conditions. Professionals in this group are part of the inter-disciplinary and interagency treatment team but are not providing therapy specific to the eating disorder.
  • Eating disorders treatment providers: Health professionals delivering eating disorder specific treatment that is safe (addressing all aspects of illness) and delivered through a collaborative multi-disciplinary team or shared care approach.
  • Recovery support providers: people providing professional support to those who are learning to self-manage their recovery from an eating disorder and to families and carers – this group includes the professions most likely to act as early identifiers and initial responders as well as treatment providers.

The Core Competency Framework provides clear, staged guidelines for training and workforce development in each of these functional groups in the following categories:
1. General Knowledge of Eating Disorders
2. Assessment Principles and Practice
3. Referral Channels and Protocols
4. Intervention and Support across the continuum of care

The next crucial step is formatting these Core Competencies, broad in their nature, to individual health industries, according to their “functional group” – be that an early identifier or a recovery support provider, and everything in between.

The NEDC will spend the remainder of the 2015-16 Financial Year engaging health care provider peak bodies and healthcare industry experts in to produce applicable workforce development strategies according to the recommended core competencies for eating disorders prevention and treatment that align with the practice principles of each health care provider functional group.

What will result is a health care delivery workforce that is suitably equipped to approach eating disorders appropriately and with the best outcome for the patient, client or associate in their care.

An additional measure to ensuring workforce core competencies are implemented across the healthcare and community services workforce is our Introductory Workforce Development program, an adjunct to the Regional Forums Format (see article two).

A valuable opportunity to equip a workforce development strategy was made available in the last week of November 2015. The NEDC was approached to deliver Introductory Training to approximately seventy-five Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) staff. The VVCS provides help and support to eligible members of the veteran and ex-serving community and their families, who are experiencing service-related mental health and wellbeing conditions. A 2-hour professional development session was facilitated with our NEDC Manager speaking live from the Sydney VVCS office whilst being video linked to twelve other geographically dispersed VVCS offices in every State and Territory of Australia.
Additionally, in early-December 2015 the NEDC was privileged to attend the Department of Defence’s Mental Health, Psychology and Rehabilitation Branch to provide their staff with important evidence-based knowledge, professional development and support for eating disorders-related treatment of Defence Force personnel.

As we continue to engage with agencies looking for ways to address the issues of eating disorders within the workforce, outside health care provision, we also continue to strengthen to community support for those living with these illnesses.

Back to Top



See also

Issue 64 | Members' Meeting and Peer Work Guide

NEDC e-Bulletin Editor's Note: It is strange to reflect on the 10th anniversary NEDC Members’ Meeting 2020, held only a month ago on February 27-28 in Melbourne, with the knowledge of the drastic changes made to society due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more

Issue 54 | Engaging with Primary Health Networks

Engaging with Primary Health Networks Editor's Note: Welcome to this edition of the NEDC e-Bulletin, packed with news from the latest NEDC Members’ Meeting, an overview of professional development workshops held in Tasmania and the NEDC’s interactive resource Stories from Experience.

Read more

Eating Disorders In Australia

Download Eating Disorders in Australia

Read more

Help us improve!

Give us feedback!


We will continue throughout 2020 to update and improve the NEDC website and welcome any feedback you may have on the site.

Provide feedback