June 22, 2023

Nearly 90% of eating disorder carers say their own physical and psychological well-being has declined as a result of their caring duties and yet only 20% seek professional help, according to Eating Disorders Families Australia (EDFA). 

Lack of time and financial stress were the main barriers for carers to seek their own support, the national advocacy group for families of those living with eating disorders found in its latest Carer Experience Survey. 

The survey also found 84% of the 216 respondents felt overwhelmed as a result of having to care for their loved one.  

“It is hard to feel hopeful whilst being a carer,” said one mother, who has been caring for her now 16-year-old daughter for two years. “My focus is more on getting through each week … I hope in time I can have the mental space to see a future that has some light in it.” 

The survey showed: 

  • 96% of carers felt fearful regarding the future of their loved one;
  • 79% lacked time for themselves;
  • 62% were financially stressed; and
  • 38% had experienced relationship breakdown.

EDFA Executive Director Jane Rowan said it was time for the broader Australian community to understand the profound impact eating disorders have on families, including siblings, and carers. 

There are currently more than one million Australians living with an eating disorder, meaning at least four million, or one in every six Australians, are affected as a result of caring for a loved one with an eating disorder. 

“The impact of eating disorders on our community is more widespread than most of us realise and the majority of families and carers are dealing with the challenges in silence and seclusion due to the stigma that still surrounds these life-threatening diseases,” Ms Rowan said. 

“This needs to change. Carers and families need more support and understanding in order to be able to maintain their own physical and psychological health, financial security, and relationships while helping their loved ones during the long recovery journey.”

With Federal Government funding, EDFA will introduce a free, online, one-on-one counselling service to carers and families later this year to address some of the issues experienced by carers and families

“Our members have asked repeatedly for a service such as this to be provided. We are pleased that we can respond to that need and help carers learn new skills and techniques to better support their  loved ones and themselves,” Ms Rowan said. 

EDFA is the only national organisation focussed solely on providing support, education and advocacy services to carers and families of those living with an eating disorder. Established in 2016, EDFA currently has more than 3,000 members and has helped hundreds of carers and families over the years.  

For further information or to request a copy of EDFA’s Carer Experience Survey, please contact Ms Rowan on 0408 780 292 or