The EDFA Board of Directors are committed to supporting families and carers of people with an eating disorder. All EDFA’s current directors have lived experience as carers.
As the Chair of EDFA, David Garvey’s role is to support the Board as it provides strategic direction to the staff and volunteers who are responsible for EDFA’s programs , and to make a difference to the lives of parents and carers who seek EDFA’s help and support.
EDFA Director David Quilty has experienced firsthand the struggle of supporting a child with an eating disorder. He is passionate about EDFA and the vital role it plays in the family and carer journey.
Dr Andrea Phillipou
Associate Professor Andrea Phillipou is a Principal Research Fellow in Eating Disorders at Orygen and The University of Melbourne.
As well as being Chair for EDFA, David Garvey is Managing Partner for BDO Melbourne. He has a naturally positive mindset, and loves to spend time with his family.
“My oldest daughter was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa at the age of 14. It was a terribly traumatic time for my daughter and our young family. My daughter is now in her 20s, and she is still on her journey to recovery. My wife and I also have three younger children and the impact of Anorexia on our oldest daughter, our other children, my wife and me has been significant.
“For a long time, I was in denial of this terrible illness that had taken over my oldest daughter’s life. My wife, in particular, has done an amazing job of trying to educate us and understand Anorexia Nervosa. There was a certain point early on where I could no longer deny what was happening to our daughter, and the trauma that our young family was going through. Initially, for our family, it was a very lonely journey.
“We did not understand the health system and how to navigate our way around mental health. The early years in particular were a very difficult time in our lives.
“The impact of an eating disorder on the one living with it and their loved ones is profound. Understandably, our health system is very focussed on supporting the health of the person with the eating disorder. However, there is also a real need in our community to support the families and carers of a loved one with an eating disorder. Families and carers are an integral part of the team required to support someone with an eating disorder on the journey to recovery.”
If there were more hours in the day, David would like to play golf and tennis. He enjoys good food and spending time with his family.
“My job is helping people and problem solving. It gives me great satisfaction knowing that I play a small part in helping other families care for a loved one with an eating disorder. It can be very lonely.”
David recognises that parents and carers need to know there are other people just like them, and by sharing their experiences and knowledge they can be better equipped and more confident to take on the challenges of caring for someone they love with an eating disorder.
David is Managing Director and Co-Founder of National Advisory, a small strategic advisory firm.
“I am a parent who has supported a child with an eating disorder. My expertise is in government and stakeholder relations. Along with Jane Rowan, I represent EDFA on the Eating Disorders Alliance Australia, working with other organisations like the Butterfly Foundation. I also sit on the TBT-S Committee, and represent EDFA members with the ACT Government.
“EDFA was formed because there was no organisation interested first and foremost in representing and supporting the families and carers of people with eating disorders.
“Often, carers can fall between the cracks and it is no different with the families and carers of people with eating disorders. For many people with eating disorders particularly those who are young, the journey to recovery can require 24/7 carer support. ,“EDFA is a special organisation because it achieves so much through the passion and commitment of its Board members and its great volunteers.
“Any family with a loved one with an eating disorder knows t it is a whole-of-family shared experience. Too often the challenges of caring for someone with an eating disorder are taken on without any support or access to the information and resources that are so vital to a lasting recovery.
“EDFA fills the gaps and complements other great eating disorder organisations, which are focused more on the person living with the eating disorder than the families and carers.”
“I like to take on challenges and find ways to solve challenging problems. I get great satisfaction from setting goals and achieving them… and when others are happy around me.
I feel privileged to play a small part supporting great people who take on one of the toughest challenges that life can throw at them. I want to make a difference, and I enjoy surrounding myself with people who make a difference.”
When he’s not juggling his work and family life, David enjoys getting away with family to the coast, as well as sports, gardening and travel.
Associate Professor Andrea Phillipou is a Principal Research Fellow in Eating Disorders at Orygen and The University of Melbourne. She is the Head of Eating Disorders Research at Orygen and leads the Scientific Work in Anorexia Nervosa & Other Eating Disorders (SWAN) Research Group. Andrea also leads the Body Image & Eating Disorders Research Portfolio at St Vincent's Hospital, and holds honorary positions in the psychiatry departments at St Vincent's and Austin Hospitals, as well as an adjunct position as Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Swinburne University.
Having had a family member with anorexia nervosa who did not survive the illness, Andrea is very passionate about the work undertaken at EDFA to support carers and family. She is proud to act as a Director, and chair EDFA’s Research Committee.
Fiona is a parent of a child living with a life-threatening chronic illness who was diagnosed with an eating disorder in her late teenage years.
Jennifer is passionate about EDFA as a way to advocate for better services, promote evidence-based research for better treatment, and give families and carers a community to feel educated and empowered.
Jane is a senior communications, marketing and stakeholder engagement leader with over 20 years of management experience across various sectors including health.
Fiona is a parent of a child living with a life-threatening chronic illness who was diagnosed with an eating disorder in her late teenage years. Using her experience in the health sector, Fiona enjoys the opportunity to work with EDFA and contribute to the work of supporting families and carers.
Fiona is currently the Chief Executive Officer for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation Australia and previously held executive roles with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.
“Although our family had spent a lifetime navigating the health system, and the complexities of caring for a loved one with an illness, the realities of living with an eating disorder became some of the most anxious and overwhelming days we had experienced.
“One of the things that provided comfort, especially in the early days when we were left feeling quite alone, was connecting with other people who had a shared experience.”
Jennifer’s background is in public health and non-profit organisations, which allows her to contribute to EDFA’s fundraising and stakeholder development. When not at home with her two whippets, Jennifer is busy keeping up with her family of five. She enjoys wakeboarding, gardening, practising yoga, and travelling overseas to visit friends and families.
“My daughter was diagnosed with Anorexia at 15. We were devastated, as we quickly understood the ramifications of this horrific disease. It was an unimaginable journey from community-based care to family-based therapy then repeated hospitalisations, a day program, weight restoration and finally – recovery.
“I know how lucky our family is to have survived. Rather than closing that traumatic chapter in my life, I felt it was important to share our lived experience and help others navigate an under-resourced system under incredible demand. We could never have supported our daughter’s treatment without the help of others and a treatment team that valued our contribution as intuitive parents. I remain incredibly grateful to the researchers and families before us who contributed their knowledge and experience. It helped us every step of the way.”
“I wish we had known more about the risk factors of an eating disorder before our daughter became unwell. I strongly believe awareness and education for carers as well as clinicians and schools are critical for prevention and early intervention.”
Jane is a passionate advocate for mental health reform, who has worked in business and non-profit sectors. She is a Non-Executive Director of Upbeat Arts Australia and the Somerville House Foundation. A Graduate and member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Jane is also a member of the Australia and New Zealand Mental Health Association as well as the peak body for community and stakeholder engagement, IAP2 Australasia. A mother of four children, Janeis a parent with lived experience, having cared for a daughter with Anorexia Nervosa.
A Message to all Parents and Carers
Carers and families play an instrumental role in supporting and caring for a loved one living with an Eating Disorder. A carer may be a parent, child, sibling, grandparent, partner, friend, neighbour, or other individual in the person’s life. Carers are an essential but often overlooked component
of the health care system and require support and assistance to effectively carry out their role.
The impact of an eating disorder is not only felt by the sufferer, it is also felt by a sufferers’ entire family and circle of support. The impact may lead to caregiver stress, loss of family income, disruption to family relationships and a high suicide risk for the sufferer.
I have first-hand experience of the initial shock and trauma of caring for a loved one for an eating disorder. When my eldest daughter was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa a number of years’ ago, our family was desperate for information and support, and we found it very difficult to source.
Our health system is very focused (as it should be) on supporting the health of a sufferer. However, there is also a real need in our community to support the carers. Carers are an integral part of the team required to support an eating disorder sufferer on their journey to recovery. EDFA plays a vital role in providing support and education to carers.
EDFA has an incredible group of volunteers who are making a real difference in the lives of many carers and their families. All of our peer support volunteers have lived experience. I am constantly amazed at how our volunteers and our members support and educate each other through their lived experience. Our volunteers and members go the extra mile to make sure families and carers get the support they need and deserve because we know how frightening, confusing, distressing and exhausting caring for a loved one with an eating disorder is.
Carers’ needs and preferences for support vary, though may include information and knowledge, skills-based training, financial support, community-based support, co-ordination or case management services, advocacy training and services, assistance to overcome barriers to paid employment, and support for physical and psychological wellbeing.
Whilst we cannot cover all these needs, EDFA has three key programs to support carers: operating a national network of strive support groups for carers accessible to both city and regional communities; running carer eating disorder education sessions accessible to both city and regional communities; and through a training program on a treatment modality known as ‘temperament based training with supports (TBT-S)
The name strive stands for support, teach, reassure, inform, validate and empower. This very much represents what EDFA stands for.
Finally, EDFA is a not for profit lived-experience volunteer supported organisation, where we fundraise to support the delivery of our programs. Without the generous financial support of our members and donors we would not be able to provide the support we do. On behalf of EDFA, I would like to thank our members and donors for their continuing support.
Eating Disorders Families Australia