Transcript of Sunshine Coast Doorstop

Transcript of Minister for Health, Greg Hunt's Sunshine Coast doorstop regarding $3.2 million for a new pilot project to improve the treatment and care of people with eating disorders.

Page last updated: 14 June 2018

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13 June 2018

E&OE…

Topics $3.2 million for a new pilot project on the Sunshine Coast to improve the treatment and care of people with eating disorders.

GREG HUNT:
So, I’m delighted to be here today at the Lake Kawana General Practice. Eating disorders can have a devastating effect on Australian families and on those young men and young women, but not exclusively young people, who suffer from this great challenge. We’re privileged to have Lexi here, who is a shining example of somebody who has had the support and the personal courage to work through this great challenge. But I am honoured and delighted to be able to announce that the Sunshine Coast will be the centre of a national trial for eating disorders.

So a national trial with a local focus. And that’s $3.2 million to assist approximately 240 patients with additional services that will allow them to have either 20 or up to 50 consultations with the leading professionals in eating disorders.

This is about saving lives and protecting lives and my hope is that this trial is not only successful, but that we take the lessons from the Sunshine Coast and apply them nationally. It builds on what we've done with the support for the Butterfly Foundation, with the support for InsideOut and it's part of the journey that we're on through the Million Minds Mental Health Mission, the review of Medicare services and also the development of residential rehabilitation.

So today says that the Sunshine Coast is leading the nation in support for eating disorders, but it also says we want to bring the rest of Australia with us because this matters to families, to young women, to young men, to people of all ages because eating disorders can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime and we need to bring them out of the darkness and into the light. Andrew. Very briefly.

ANDREW WALLACE:
Thanks Greg. The Sunshine Coast is leading the way in so many areas of health, particularly mental health care, with the Roy Thompson Institute just across the road from here - our $1.8 billion new public hospital - and this is a terrific example of the Sunshine Coast leading the way in the care of people suffering from eating disorders.

The Sunshine Coast will be- make no doubt, the Sunshine Coast will be a leading area. It will lead the charge on the care and research into eating disorders. Now, we still don't understand how people are contracting, or why they are contracting eating disorders, there’s a lot of research to be done and- but this program in particular will provide leading care for those suffering from eating disorders.

We need early access, we need early intervention. Eating disorders - and I know many of you may be watching this at home thinking: why can't they just eat? How can it be a problem? Let me tell you, from my own experience, that eating disorders are something that is insidious. It tears, it rips families apart and we as a Federal Government- and I really want to single out the work that Greg Hunt has been doing in this space. Greg has listened to me to my pleas and the pleas of my colleagues about addressing the urgent needs of those suffering from eating disorders.
And since Greg Hunt has been the Minister for Health, he's taken very strong and active steps, and this is one of the best examples of it and it's putting the Sunshine Coast on the map, leading the charge, and I've absolutely no doubt that the rest of the country will follow in the care of eating disorders.

GREG HUNT:
So we just might invite Lexi to speak briefly and then happy to take more questions.

LEXI CROUCH:
I say this - what a day to be alive, because life is something that I wasn’t quite sure that I was going to get a possibility to live after I struggled with an eating disorder for so long. So, personally for me, I struggled with anorexia nervosa for 15 years and this took up a lot of my life. In this time, I was in the medical system and I sought hospital admissions with over 25 times. This was in the public space, as well as private.

What this meant for my family is it was- when I asked my mother, it was financially crippling. My mother was a single mother who fought long hard for my recovery and went any way that she could through funding this. So she did not give up. But this meant that we had to sacrifice a lot as a family and the treatment and the money options that we had were just- she says that she finds herself at a dire straits situation, but continued to do whatever she had to provide care for me at this time.

I come here today and I thank the Minister, I thank the Butterfly Foundation and the Eating Issues Centre for giving this option available to us. This gives us hope. We have options now. This has not always been available. To be able to access up to 50 sessions, where at this point of time, it's 10, this gives us a chance to really get in to the depths of eating disorders. As we know, there is no quick fix for eating disorders and we need this time.

So I thank you, everyone, for making this pilot available to test this out on the Sunshine Coast and the greater region, so that we can bring hope and let's get through this. We all know that eating disorders are very hard. They take away lives. I lost my best friend in October to the condition of anorexia last year and it is my mission to work with everybody and get it out there that we can get through this. And this is going to make it available to do so. So, I thank you very much for really stepping up the treatment and making the change. Thank you Minister.

JOURNALIST:
Can we just ask you a few more questions if that’s alright? So, I guess you’re coming out the other end of this. Can you explain like how this will actually help maybe someone that’s just like realising what they’ve got now?

LEXI CROUCH:
Well, this will start to be able to access treatment at an early stage. Eating disorders- they do have the impact to go undetected early, but we’re getting it out there now, we're breaking down a lot of the stigma. So this is going to allow for early access, to maybe start to get on top of the eating disorder. To be able to work with it. To get that treatment that we really need to put the end to really long-term crippling conditions here.

JOURNALIST:
Lexi, I understand it also involves training GPs. Did you find that there was a bit of- not many of them are aware of the full depth of how to diagnose and that kind of thing?

LEXI CROUCH:
I did in this time. I developed an eating disorder when I was quite young, at seven years old, and we seeked treatment when I was 14. We started to go into the system and our first point of call was a GP. At this time, I’m 30 years old now.

Eating disorders have not really been spoken about and we presented to the GP and they barely- had no idea what was going on. Very helpful, but were unable to detect and diagnose what was going on here. So, I did slide under the radar for a few more years to come because there was not enough education out there for the GPs.

JOURNALIST:
So I guess, if you had this kind of service early on, do you think it would have been easier for you to overcome it?

LEXI CROUCH:
I think in the sense that seeking help would have definitely helped in the process of the recovery journey and basically having that connection and support, which is just crucial in eating disorders, we can’t do this alone.

JOURNALIST:
And amazing that you’re speaking out today. What would you say to people at home that maybe are listening to yourself, your story and what’s gone on. What would you say to them about maybe pushing through this and maybe getting out the other end?

LEXI CROUCH:
What I say about it is you have no idea what's waiting on the other side. I describe it as pure magic. I would never have believed if anybody said keep going, it's worth it, and I've become that person. I say this may be the hardest fight you will ever fight, but keep going. Is not going to be a great time during recovery, but what is waiting on the other side, you cannot even imagine yet. So please keep going.

JOURNALIST:
That’s beautiful, thank you. We’re just ask some questions for yourself Minister.

GREG HUNT:
Yeah sure, of course.

JOURNALIST:
So yeah. I guess tell us about the program in a bit more depth then, and what we will see here on the Sunshine Coast.

GREG HUNT:
So there are three parts to the program. Firstly, the education for GPs and nurses and other medical professionals. Secondly, the actual trial for those participants. People who are at an earlier stage than Lexie. And then thirdly, the assessment and the evaluation. And my hope and actually my belief is that this will work, we'll have lessons from it and from this we'll be able t go national.

And it will dovetail with what we're doing with the Million Minds Mental Health Mission, and at the end of the day, it comes down to a very simple proposition. We want more people to have more options for more services to end up saving lives and protecting lives.

JOURNALIST:
And I guess at the moment with the 10 sessions, it probably only just scratches the surface, doesn't it? They need a lot longer.

GREG HUNT:
Yeah, so those sessions are important. They're a foundation, but it's our watch and it's our time now and it's our responsibility, as Christine said, to make that difference. I know Andrew has been talking to me every week, every week since he came into Parliament about doing this. His was one of the very first calls I got when I became Health Minister. He said ‘so, let's talk about eating disorders’. And we get a chance sometimes in life to make a difference, and my hope is that this will make a real difference to tens of thousands and potentially hundreds of thousands of Australian families.

JOURNALIST:
And we have a big push, actually, coming out of the Sunshine Coast. We've got another local family that's just purchased a piece of land to have a centre here. So are these kind of services- do you think that Sunshine Coast has kind of been that pioneer for change?

GREG HUNT:
It has. There are magnificent people doing magnificent work around the country, but the Sunshine Coast has a special focus and you have a combination of the PHN, very motivated parents and individuals, and a local member with a unique galvanised commitment in Andrew. And all of those things, along with having the Thompson Institute, brings this together to make the Sunshine Coast a leading national centre with regards to treatment and care for eating disorders.

JOURNALIST:
How will you roll out the training for the GPs? Will that be to diagnose early? How does that training (inaudible)?

GREG HUNT:
So I might ask either Patti or Christine if you wanted to add. They are now in charge of the program.

JOURNALIST:
I’ll just get you to step forward. We might- or maybe come a bit closer. Sorry. Do you want them lowered, or?

PATTIE HUDSON:
So our GPs are the cornerstone of primary health care, and they get asked to do a lot of things. And with the help of the Butterfly Foundation and the training that they're organised, the PHN will assist GPs access to that training, ensure that it’s of the high quality and they get their points, so that we're training up a number of GPs, so that when that patient walks through the door they'll have a better understanding of that early diagnosis of eating disorders.

CHRISTINE MORGAN:
No that’s alright. Thanks Patti, and I think what that will mean is that what we can do from a Butterfly perspective, Patty, is help ensure that we bring here access to programs that can actually provide professional development.

So Queensland Eating Disorder Services has some great resources, we have some from elsewhere. So it's about, as Patty has said, training GPs, training other health professionals to be able to diagnose and then most importantly, it’s about being able to provide them with referral pathways. So once you come through a GP, that GP will continue to monitor what you do, but you will also get psychotherapeutic sessions. That's the 20 to 50 sessions that the minister’s referred to.

You’ll get access to a dietician, who can actually help you with those nutritional challenges. If you need it, you'll have access to a psychiatrist. So it's a multidisciplinary integrated team approach, with lots of professional development and tertiary supervision behind it to really help our health professionals, our allied health professionals, understand how to treat this really complex illness.

JOURNALIST:
I don’t think everyone may not be aware that anorexia has the highest death rate as well. It's one of those really…

CHRISTINE MORGAN:
It’s horrific. Well, eating disorders across the spectrum have a very high fatality rate. Anorexia nervosa is probably the most pointed, but I think what people don't understand is that fatality comes from two factors. When you have an eating disorder, you have physical impairment in the moment and so your body is breaking down.

Whether you have a bingeing disorder or a restrictive one such as anorexia, but the hidden- the hidden horror is the elevated suicide risk across all eating disorders. And Lexi talked so eloquently about reducing stigma, reducing shame. We have to make these something where people understand it's not their fault, to get that fatality rate down. And of course, to provide the treatment early in illness, early in episode of illness, so we can stop it in its tracks.

JOURNALIST:
Can I just get one quick grab from Sydney? Sorry. They’ve just got a couple of questions. So just from Sydney, so why has Mount Druitt Hospital not received a Medicare license for its MRI machine?

GREG HUNT:
Well, in fact, we've just allocated $2 billion in the last year to additional diagnostic imaging resources. You'd have to ask the previous Labor government because they didn't do that, and nor are the Labor Opposition committing to Mount Druitt. So we're currently working on a response to the Senate inquiry, but we've committed $2 billion; they haven't committed to Mount Druitt, and I think you'll find that when we respond to the Senate inquiry, there'll be a very positive series of announcements. So when we respond to the Senate inquiry, in addition to the $2 billion, it’ll be a very positive series of announcements.

JOURNALIST:
And so you have received a letter from the minister in - New South Wales Prime Minister - Minister Brad Hazzard sorry, lobbying for the license. Do you think or do you understand those concerns that he’s had?

GREG HUNT:
Look, that’s why we contributed $2 billion. It's important, I think, to realise that in six years of office, Labor didn't index a single diagnostic imaging service. We’re indexing mammography, fluoroscopy, CT, interventional standards. So all of those elements are being re-indexed under the Coalition for the first time in over 17 years.

Never happened under Labor. So we’re doing that, and they know that we're about to respond in short order to the Senate inquiry into MRI. But curiously, they haven't even made the promise for Mount Druitt. So I would say as ever, watch what we do and compare it with what they say, because even what they say doesn't stack up to the $2 billion that we've added and what's still to come in response to the Senate.

JOURNALIST:
And just lastly, do you think it's acceptable that patients in one of the poorest regions in Australia have to pay full fee for a basic service?

GREG HUNT:
I think the critical thing is to ask Mr Husic, who's raised this point; why they never did it under Labor because we've delivered indexation for $2 billion worth of services. They delivered nothing. And right now, we're in a position that there'll be a response to the Senate inquiry shortly. But even now, they're not promising anything for Mount Druitt at the ALP level. Thank you.

(ENDS)

Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Party of Australia, Hastings, Victoria.

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