There is a need for a workforce of adequate size, skill, and diversity positioned across the system of care to meet the needs of all people at risk of or experiencing an eating disorder and their families/supports and communities. Data-driven, strategic, and coordinated workforce development will enable this to happen.
Historically the eating disorders workforce has been understood as a small number of medical, mental health and dietetic professionals with a highly specific skillset, working mostly within eating disorder-specific services across public health and private practice, along with researchers whose work is dedicated to the field. This workforce, though essential, will not be sufficient in size, diversity or positioning in the system of care at the scale required. A significant expansion of the eating disorder workforce is needed. The development of workforce competencies, standards and training and supervision infrastructure within the eating disorder sector over recent years means that the workforce can be built in an efficient and targeted way, based on the knowledge of the particular skills that need to be embedded in each part of the workforce across the system of care.
An important workforce growth opportunity is the expansion of the Lived Experience workforce for eating disorders. Recognition of the importance of the Lived Experience workforce in the mental health sector has grown significantly over the past five to ten years, including national investment to support those with lived experience of mental health challenges to shape the policies and programs that affect them. The Lived Experience workforce includes a broad range of roles, including (but not limited to) consumer or carer consultants, peer support workers, executive governance, paid board and committee representation, education, training, research, consultancy, policy design, and advocacy in service settings (1). In these roles, the Lived Experience Workforce contributes to personal change and recovery, as well as cultural and practice change within services (1).
Click to read more about the Stepped System of Care.
We encourage you to read the Workforce section in the National Strategy for further information about areas of focus in psychosocial and recovery support, as well as standards and actions for building this element of the system of care. Please see pages 69-72.
1. Byrne L, Wang L, Roennfeldt H, Chapman M, Darwin L, Castles C, et al. National lived experience workforce guidelines. [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Jun 23]. Available from: https://www.mentalhealthcommission.gov.au/getmedia/a33cce2a-e7fa-4f90-964d-85dbf1514b6b/NMHC_Lived-Experience-Workforce-Development-Guidelines