World-first counselling service for carers of those with eating disorders reaches 1,000 sessions!

June 17, 2024

Eating Disorders Families Australia’s (EDFA) unique, lived-experience counselling service for those
caring for someone with an eating disorder has surpassed its 2023/24 session goal well ahead of
deadline and has reached 1,000 sessions today.

The Australian Government-funded counselling service provides essential access to tailored, online,
one-on-one counselling support for carers of those with eating disorders. Known as Fill The Gap, it was
developed to address the lack of, or difficulty in accessing, tailored counselling services for those who
are caring for someone with an eating disorder.

“Demand for EDFA’s Fill The Gap counselling service has exceeded all expectations, including our own
even with our lived experience understanding of the need for this type of service,” EDFA Executive
Director Jane Rowan said.

“Fill The Gap is the only service of its kind in Australia and we believe it is the first of its kind in the
world. We are delighted to have successfully delivered 1,000 Fill The Gap sessions as of today and to
have achieved our 2023/24 target of 787 sessions seven weeks ahead of deadline.”

All Fill The Gap sessions are free and are held via video conferencing, using professional, lived
experience counsellors to help carers manage and gain the skills to become a more effective part of the
recovery team. Its online delivery means even families and carers living in rural, regional, and remote
Australia are able to access the service, with 20% of clients currently attending from these areas.

There is no commitment for carers to have ongoing sessions and there is also no cap on the number of
sessions that can be accessed – carers are more than welcome to book an initial session and speak with
a counsellor about how sessions may be able to help them. Carers can be at any point in the recovery
journey – from having concerns about their loved one, early diagnosis, active treatment, or post treatment when relapse can occur.

“You feel extreme helplessness on this journey,” said Melbourne-based carer Jo Foggo. “EDFA’s Fill
the Gap gives you a sense of being validated and having some hope, which then makes you feel
stronger that you’re able to continue going with the skills you need to deal with the illness.”

Results from EDFA’s 2024 Carer Experience Survey demonstrated the importance of having a service
like Fill The Gap available to carers. The survey showed the mental health of those caring for someone
with an eating disorder had declined in every category over the past 12 months.

“We understand that carers will often sacrifice their own well-being in order to prioritise the care of their
loved one, particularly in times of financial strain or when services are in short supply,” EDFA Fill The
Gap Program Director and clinical psychologist Chris Fowler said.

“Gaining support as a carer may not only help your own well-being but can also help others around
you, including your loved one.”

EDFA is the only national organisation providing support, education, advocacy and counselling services
solely to carers and families of those living with an eating disorder. Established in 2016, EDFA currently
has more than 4,000 members and has helped hundreds of carers and families over the years.

For further information, contact EDFA Executive Director Jane Rowan on 0408 780 292 or

EDFA is also able to make carers available for interview.