Sunday, June 14, 2015

Dialogue with The Butterfly Foundation

The following is open dialogue IED Action is having with The Butterfly Foundation following the collaborative letter sent out in response to their DIS campaign. We are proceeding with hope and expectation for a positive response.

On Wednesday, June 3, 2015, Christine Morgan <christine@thebutterflyfoundation.org.au> wrote:
Dear Jennifer and supporters of International Eating Disorder Advocacy,
There are more than 943,0001 Australians in 2015 requiring treatment for a clinical eating disorder– with less than 25 per cent accessing treatment. At the end of 2014 Deloitte Access Economics calculated that eating disorders costs Australia $69.7 billion. The Australian Government has only just begun to recognise eating disorders as a serious mental illness, and understand the contributory behaviours, environmental and genetic predetermined elements that are the cause of eating disorder. Butterfly Foundation is more than aware of day to day experiences of people living with eating disorders, and is also painfully aware of the amount of ‘campaign fatigue’ that exists around issues based fund raising and awareness campaigns, and we sought to break through this fatigue and focus on one of the detrimental environmental elements for a national campaign.
In no way is Butterfly ‘dissing’ those impacted by eating disorders. We know eating disorders are not a lifestyle choice, they are serious psychiatric illnesses. Those suffering have not chosen to do so and deserve access to optimal treatment. Butterfly is devoted to fighting for the rights of those with eating disorders to be recognised and responded to within the public and private health systems, and for all those impacted to have access to the treatment and support they need.
There is evidence that prevention initiatives and public education on health issues require a multi-strand approach.  Placing health promotion messages in the public space, such as what has been done with the Don’t Dis My Appearance campaign, is just one of a number of communication strategies that Butterfly uses to increase awareness of eating disorders and to help bring about the desired outcomes of reduced risk, reduced stigma and earlier identification and intervention.
This particular campaign highlights the preventative health value of a positive body image. As you have mentioned, the factors that contribute to the development of an eating disorder are complex and include a combination of genetic vulnerability, psychological factors and socio-cultural influences. While certainly not the experience of all people with an eating disorder, research indicates that body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem and dieting behaviour do play a significant role for many people in the development of eating disorders – and with body image being one of the top three concerns for young people in Australia, this is not something we can ignore.
This campaign has nothing to do with vanity or suggesting that these illnesses are a lifestyle choice, but everything to do with rejecting language which reinforces appearance-based values. The aim of this campaign is to highlight how body shaming and appearance-based judgement can contribute to negative body image and the development of an eating disorder and to empower people to speak out and say ‘it is NOT ok to judge me by my appearance’. This is relevant not only to the general community it, but in particular to anyone who is suffering from an eating disorder as we know that one of the serious myths is that you can diagnose an eating disorder by physical appearance. People who visit our campaign website will read that eating disorders are very serious mental illnesses with the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses.
This campaign was developed in consultation with internationally regarded clinicians and body image experts working with the Butterfly Foundation.  It has also been supported by people battling eating disorders. Butterfly Foundation’s commitment to raising awareness of eating disorders and seeking increased financial and health system support for those suffering with these illnesses is unflinching.
Please be assured that we hear and understand your comments and concerns. We appreciate your focus and attention on this critical issue and share your dedication to ensuring a better future for all people living with eating disorders.
Kind regards
Christine Morgan
Christine Morgan
CEO / Director, The Butterfly Foundation
National Director, National Eating Disorders Collaboration
103 Alexander Street  Crows Nest  NSW  2065
D:  02 8456 3900 | Office:  02 9412 4499
National Support Line:  1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673)

International Eating Disorder Action

Jun 3 (11 days ago)
Dear Christine,

Thank you for the reply to the concerns about your campaign that we posted on Facebook and Twitter.  We've tried to engage several times in the past to share information and strategies so are very pleased to have a direct contact at this juncture.

We have shared your response with the many partners, carers and survivors in our network and will revert soon with a reply and some additional queries. We are 100% volunteer and have members in Australia and all over the world - we appreciate the many good things you've accomplished and want to work more closely with you and other similar organsiations. That said we are cognizant that limited resources are available and we feel strongly that any public campaigns or activities addressing the real needs for those with or predisposed to eating disorders must be based in science and have impact.

Thank you again and we shall revert shortly. 

Amy Cunningham 
International Eating Disorder Action

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