Our Volunteers

Eating Disorders Families Australia would not exist without the support and commitment of our volunteer team. These volunteers are the cornerstone of our organisation, and we’d like to shine a very bright spotlight on them.

Are you our next Volunteer? Contact us to make help make a difference to another families Eating Disorder journey.  

Christine Naismith Volunteer, Founder, Director

I’m Christine, a volunteer, and one of the founders of EDFA. I work with the volunteers who all help to bring our strive support program to our Carer Community.

I am a pharmacist, but retired from my career to volunteer for EDFA as I truly believe it is needed for families caring for a loved one with an eating disorder. I have been through the extremely challenging and lonely experience of caring for my own child with an eating disorder, and I wanted to share my knowledge with others & to let them know that they are not alone in this battle. With my daughter in recovery, I knew the importance of providing a ‘voice of hope’ and to reassure others that ‘recovery from an eating disorder truly is possible’. If I can reduce the amount & length of time suffering, that families as a whole experience as a result of an eating disorder diagnosis, by sharing what I have learned, connecting them with others & building a much needed Carer Community, then I feel this is such a worthwhile reason to volunteer my time and efforts.

Worrying everyday that your child might die from a mental-illness that sneaks into your life so unexpectedly takes its toll on your own mental well-being and the behaviours and high levels of stress and distress that an eating disorder brings into your home hugely impacts the whole family. Siblings are also affected in many ways and my two other children have experienced depression and ARFID, so I am still dealing with an eating disorder in my family.

At EDFA, we want to make a difference to other carers by supporting, educating, reassuring and connecting parents and carers,  empowering them to be more effective and compassionate carers who have a better understanding about these mental illnesses and to be more confident advocates for their loved ones to receive prompt and appropriate medical and psychological intervention.

Words of Wisdom for carers

No matter how bad it seems or how tough it gets, you are not alone. EDFA provides a caring and understanding community where you can be heard, validated, reassured, supported or just held in your time of need.

Recovery is not linear! Don’t lose hope with setbacks or relapses, as these are all typical of an eating disorder and are par for the course.

This is one of the most challenging and complex carer roles. Be kind to yourself. This is not your fault. It is a long and exhausting road and self-care is so important to last the distance. 

Recovery IS possible. There IS hope! 

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Lynn Garvey, Volunteer, Education Program

Hi, Lynn here. As a volunteer, I help source speakers, co-ordinate and facilitate EDFA’s twice-monthly education program, co-ordinate Siblings Support Group, assist with social media content, moderate on the online FB forum, facilitate strive Victoria online “face to face” support group and provide daily administration support.

I am a Mum of four, two boys and two girls.  My eldest daughter, now 21, was officially diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when she was 14.  The early days of treatment were tumultuous times within our family as we had little knowledge of what an eating disorder was and no local peer support available at the time. I felt alone and frightened. After experiencing a relapse two years ago, and with the help of an intuitive, patient and loving therapist, our daughter is now on her journey to recovery and a life of meaning and purpose.

I volunteer for EDFA so I can help, support, nurture and extend compassion to other parents and carers, and help them access the skills and education they need to not only survive, but thrive personally and as caregivers. Supporting a child with an eating disorder is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I can only imagine this is true for the majority of caregivers in the eating disorder community.

Words of Wisdom

You are not to blame for your loved one’s eating disorder. You are the best person to help your loved one heal from their illness because of the neural connective bond you share together.  Everyone with an eating disorder can fully recover and live a full and meaningful life.  Please have compassion for yourself, expect setbacks, trust in the process and be prepared that healing may be a marathon rather than a sprint.  Remember that love really does conquer all!

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Helen Searle, Volunteer, strive Support Program

I’m Helen, Project Manager for the strive carer support group program, and for closed Facebook groups. I volunteer with EDFA, and am the carer of a young adult who has experienced an eating disorder.

I joined EDFA three years ago, and we had one carer support group. Fast forward, and we now have bi-monthly education program, national strive groups, and our first local pilot program with the emerging treatment TBT-S is soon to commence. Last year we reached almost three thousand families. There is no other national organisation in Australia whose sole purpose is to empower and advocate for carers.  

I volunteer with EDFA because I want to ensure that every carer in Australia has access to a community of support, kindness, compassion and optimism.

Words of wisdom for carers

Lean on the help, support, wisdom and guidance from those who have been through the journey themselves.

Jo-Lise Finn, Volunteer, Website and IT

I’ve been an EDFA volunteer since June 2020. I stumbled across a facebook post asking for a website content writer and before I knew it, I was designing, building and launching a new website for EDFA. I had taken some time off from my career in Digital Marketing  to care for my daughter who was struggling with Anorexia Nervosa, and this was the perfect fit for my skill set. 

I feel incredibly proud of what I’ve been able to achieve volunteering for EDFA. I feel a real connection to the work EDFA do, and have been so thankful to have access to a carer support network, resources and information. When my daughter was diagnosed, I was literally stumbling around in the dark. It took almost six months for me to be able to say the word ‘Anorexia’ out loud. I was in a permanent state of shock, guilt, denial, blame, you name it I felt it. The eating disorder journey is not over for us yet, but through EDFA we have found a community to learn on, learn from and escape to.

I feel extraordinarily grateful to have a chance to make a difference.

Words of Wisdom

Accept help when it’s offered. Provide help when you can.

Georgia Harrold Sibling Support Group Facilitator EDFA

Georgia Harrold, Volunteer Sibling Support Group Facilitator

My name is Georgia Harrold and I am one of the EDFA Sibling Support Group facilitators. My role involves guiding and facilitating supportive discussion and sharing amongst individuals who have a sibling living with an eating disorder. 

Being the sibling of an individual with an eating disorder myself, I understand (and have experienced first-hand) the significant impact that an eating disorder can have on the family unit. To be connecting with other siblings and assisting in the delivery and facilitation of these groups is something I feel passionate and excited about. 

Words of Wisdom

If possible, spend one-on-one time with siblings (even if it’s only for an hour a week) to do things/talk about things outside of the eating disorder. Also, communicating with siblings that they are allowed to have any sort of feelings towards the eating disorder or family members and that these feelings are valid is very important. 

 

Do you feel you can contribute to EDFA and would like some more information on volunteering? 

Learn More Here or Contact Us

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