Violeta Bozinovski – Co-founder, Director, Board Member
“I don’t want one more family to go through what we, and others, have gone through to get a diagnosis, quality treatment, and support for our loved ones’ Violeta Bozinovski says.
I want to ensure eating disorders are no longer a mystery in our society and that families feel connected, adequately supported and empowered to know how to identify and best way to treat these horrific illnesses.”
Violeta’s 20 year old daughter, a fraternal twin, was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa at aged 14. It as an ‘accidental’ diagnosis, after they’d desperately tried to get help for drastic weight loss and resistance to eating.
“We became part of the FBT trials at the Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) and although our daughter was compliant and gained weight quickly, she has since relapsed and has continued with private outpatient treatment.”
Anorexia has impacted the wellbeing of the whole family unit as well as their relationships with the wider family and friends. The mental health of Violeta Bozinovski’s other children was compromised and their lifestyle and activities have totally changed.
“Anorexia has isolated us from the world we knew before our daughter became ill. The days have been fraught with fear and loneliness, and our financial situation has also taken a huge hit.”
The unexpected journey she found herself and her family on led to Violeta, together with a group of parents, founding Eating Disorders Families Australia – a volunteer organisation providing support, connectedness and education to families and carers.
“I am passionate and totally invested in making a difference to families.
“Families who care for loved ones with eating disorders need long-term support, as eating disorders average 5-8 years but can last much longer. There are over a million people with eating disorders in Australia, with Anorexia Nervosa having the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, with approximately 2,000 young people in Australia dying each year.”
EDFA is the only national volunteer organisation which solely supports parents, carers, siblings, partners, grandparents and significant others whose loved ones suffer with eating disorders. The caring role brings considerable personal strain and it is important to give carers the support they need so they can continue to care for their loved ones without ‘burning out’.
Violeta Bozinovski says families and carers will take away a sense of belonging, a community of others with lived experience who truly understand and care about what they are experiencing, a feeling of safety, an empowerment/motivation to stay strong and know they are not alone in this nightmare.
“They will understand that recovery from an ED is truly possible and to never give up on their loved one.”
Violeta’s role within EDFA is varied… as a full time volunteer she wears many hats. Alongside her role in supporting parents and carers, she collaborates with research institutions and various national and state-based eating disorder organisations.
And as Director and Board Member, Violeta Bozinovski provides strategy, direction and decision making to ensure they achieve their mission and vision for EDFA.
Violeta also project manages EDFA’s biggest fundraising event, the annual ‘Pass the Baton’ Ball.
“I work over 40 hours per week alongside my full-time job and caring for a young adult with an eating disorder as well as the whole family of five.”
Violeta is a passionate and driven individual. She has a wealth of IT&T experience in various industry sectors and has spent years on large, complex, high profile technology programs.
“I specialise in Program and Project Management. My strength lies in the ability to take a pragmatic approach and successfully deliver complex commercial issues and large-scale projects and programs of work.”
But it’s her work with EDFA that brings her deep gratification.
“Eating disorders are steadily increasing… as is the need to support families. They’re not going away soon. The various EDFA initiatives I am working on are exciting as we grow and expand our services and reach families nationally. We are making a real difference.
I am extremely proud of the achievements we’ve made in a short space of time. As ‘ordinary individuals’ (i.e. non clinicians) – at opposite ends of the country, we were brought together out of the sheer frustration of the gaps within the national and local medical and mental health system. We were incensed and moved enough to do something to affect change for others…
… so that no one else has to go through what we have.
I’mproud that sharing my lived-experience and knowledge to support other carers helps ease their burden, connects them to an understanding community of support and reduces their isolation and fear.
The passion for EDFA keeps on growing as we make progress in making a difference to families’ lives.”
In her downtime, Violeta enjoys music, friends, reading and getting out for a run.
Violeta’s top tips
Tag team with your partner or a family member, enjoy a coffee, meal or drink with another parent or carer who has lived experience or good friends who ‘get it’.
Never give up on your loved one, even if it feels like Groundhog Day and you’re not making a difference. You are! Families are a vital part of recovery from an eating disorder. Your loved one relies on you to be a pillar of strength, love and support as they work towards recovery. It’s hard. The hardest thing you can do is to have their back.”