Key messages

  • The two most serious eating disorders are anorexia nervosa (anorexia) and bulimia nervosa (bulimia).
  • Community-based services to treat eating disorders are an alternative to acute inpatient care.
  • Outpatient or family-based treatment is the preferred option for eating disorders.

Intensive community-based services to treat eating disorders are an alternative to acute inpatient care.

The two most prevalent eating disorders are anorexia nervosa (anorexia) and bulimia nervosa (bulimia), which often co-occur with anxiety disorders such as panic and obsessive-compulsive behaviour.

Victoria provides both intensive community-based services for the treatment of eating disorders and acute inpatient care services.

Treatment options for eating disorders

Community-based treatment is the preferred option for eating disorders.

This involves patients, family members and general practitioners working with multidisciplinary teams for the duration of the treatment. While recognising that specialist eating disorder services provide assessment and bed-based treatment for the most acute and severe presentations, this is provided in conjunction with input from clinical mental health services for adults, adolescents and children. Clinical mental health services (both inpatient and community-based services) are expected to treat moderate to severely affected people with eating disorders.

Clinics and services that provide outpatient or family-based treatment are:

  • The Royal Children’s Hospital Eating Disorders Program
  • Southern Health Butterfly Eating Disorders Day Program
  • Austin Health and St Vincent’s Melbourne – Body Image & Eating Disorders Treatment & Recovery Service.

Community engagement and support for eating disorders

Community engagement plays an important role in supporting recovery or when seeking help with eating disorders.

Community services provide phone and email helplines, face-to-face support, workshops, educational packages and e-learning programs. These include:

  • The Butterfly Foundation
  • Eating Disorders Victoria
  • The Victorian Centre for Excellence in Eating Disorders.