Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 - St John of God Health Care
St John of God Health Care has further increased its capacity to support young people in need with the launch of an eating disorders service in the South West of Western Australia.

As part of its national strategy to expand mental health services to young people aged 12 to 25 years, this is the first time St John of God Health Care has committed to supporting care for young persons in a rural and remote region who are affected by an eating disorder.

A Senior Occupational Therapist, Kate Avery, will provide the specialised service as one of the freely available Social Outreach and Advocacy services operated by St John of God Hospital Bunbury. Ms Avery brings extensive experience of working with children and families affected by an eating disorder through her work at Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth. Her role will initially serve the South West two days a week and aims to better meet the needs of young people and their families in the local community who are affected by an eating disorder.

Eating disorders and their precursors such as poor body image and disordered eating are increasingly common in Australian society and a major health concern for WA. Body image is the top rated concern for youth, according to Mission Australia’s annual national survey of 50,000 youth, and disordered eating behaviours increased two-fold among males and females 16 years+ over the past decade . Nearly one in seven (15.5%) Australian women will experience an eating disorder in their lifetime ? and the most common time of onset is during the adolescent years. An eating disorder is a serious condition associated with the highest death rate and greatest morbidity of all psychiatric disorders.

Ms Avery said: “Rural and remote young people affected by an eating disorder are generally disadvantaged in accessing the treatment and care necessary for early identification and intervention so I am delighted that St John of God Health Care have given me the opportunity to work in this role here in the South West.”

Mark Grime, CEO of St John of God Hospital Bunbury, said: “Young people with eating disorders in our region often experience a lack of access to specialised services due to a small population base, the stigma often associated with mental health issues and a lack of confidence among health professionals in terms of diagnosis and management strategies.

“Kate’s role will help young people with eating disorders in the South West access the help they need. As with many of our Social Outreach and Advocacy services, early intervention is a key factor in addressing the social determinants of health so I welcome Kate’s expertise in this specialised area.”

St John of God Health Care envisages that this new role will improve young peoples’ disease trajectories, enhance the skill-set of families and patients and improve knowledge and competence relating to eating disorders among rural community-based practitioners and educators. Additional benefits of the service are expected to include increased localisation of care and reduced medical co morbidity and risk. Better outcomes for patients and families, greater satisfaction with services, and reduced cost per patient for tertiary healthcare are also expected through this position.

Eating Disorders Coordinator, Kate Avery, is based in Bunbury on Mondays and Tuesdays. For more information on this service please contact St John of God Hospital Bunbury on (08) 97221660 or email [email protected]

Contact Profile

St John of God Health Care

St John of God Health Care is a leading Australian Catholic not for profit health care group, operating hospitals, home nursing, pathology and Social Outreach and Advocacy services in Australia, New Zealand and the wider Asia-Pacific region.
Fiona Athersmith
P: 03 9205 6503
M: 0421 941 053


eating disorders, st john of god health care, bunbury, western australia



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