FEAST conference for Australia
F.E.A.S.T. executive director, Laura Collins (right) and one of her many wonderful helpers, Denise Clancy, at the 2011 inaugural F.E.A.S.T. conference in VA, USA. We hope to see Laura and Denise in Brisbane!
Exciting news for Australian and New Zealand families and sufferers of eating disorders: we will have our first national eating disorder conference for families, carers and sufferers
F.E.A.S.T. Conference in 2013. Hooray! The tentative dates are May 23-May 25 May 31st and June 1st, (circle these dates on your calendar). This inaugural event will be held in Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland. That it is happening is truly ‘a dream come true’, and I want to share it with you all the way through.
F.E.A.S.T. executive director, Laura Collins, has ‘deputised me’ as conference organiser and we thought it a good idea to invite Aussie families and sufferers to suggest what they would like to hear about and learn at the F.E.A.S.T. conference, and use this as reference in deciding the content.
To provide a little background: three Australians – myself and Bridget and Tim Bonnin, from Cairns, attended the first F.E.A.S.T. Conference in Old Alexandria, Virginia in November 2011. Bridget and I are on the executive board of the wonderful F.E.A.S.T. organisation and we agreed Aussies families and eating disorder sufferers deserve and need a conference like this.
In early December, at a steering committee meeting of the NEDC
in Sydney, Elaine Painter (Statewide team manager of the Eating Disorder Outreach Service for the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Queensland) expressed enthusiasm to help establish such a conference.
One good step led to another. Right on Christmas Eve, when I was emailing with Professor Janet Treasure in London about several new books we are working on, I learnt she will come to Sydney in May 2013 for a conference. My brain worked overtime – dare I ask if she will speak at our F.E.A.S.T. Conference. The worst that can happen is that she will say ‘no’, right? Prof. Treasure responded: ‘You certainly know how to press my buttons – I cannot resist 2 for 1.’ This was my best Christmas present! We now had a keynote speaker. Our conference dream was becoming a reality…
Elaine is working wonders in Brisbane, organising the venue and other ‘nuts and bolts’ matters. Both ANZAED
and The Butterfly Foundation
have indicated a willingness to collaborate in making this an event that will bring eating disorders to the fore in Australia. We will hold our first committee meeting before the end of January. (“Ed”, get used to it, you will have nowhere to hide).
I would like to share the working title for the conference, which is:
At home with Eating Disorders
I like At home with Eating Disorders because it has several connotations, including:
- ‘At home’ means ‘comfortable with, not afraid of’ (because we have the best knowledge, able to make the best choices in our interest)
- ‘At home’ also means the family home, where eating disorders develop and where the handwork of recovery takes place. Everyone in the home is affected and for best outcome everyone in the family needs to be involved in recovery.
This title is simple but I feel it is friendly and encouraging, and non-threatening. The conference theme will revolve around sharing knowledge and experience, learning skills, and accessing the best information to help you make the best choices. I welcome your thoughts.
Also, I want to hear your thoughts on what you want to learn about, hear about, at the conference. Remember that this is a conference for YOU. Primarily for parents, partners, brothers, sisters, friends, sufferers of eating disorders and also an opportunity for health professionals to learn from your experience and assist you on your journey.
Do you want to know about the causal effects of eating disorders, the re-feeding process, the different types of treatments, the role of parents, partners, siblings and friends? If you are an adult with an eating disorder, do you want to know about self-help, where to get help, rebuilding relationships? Assist in making this a conference that will change people’s lives, in changing your life, and email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
While this conference will be held in Australia, it is not only for Australians and our friends across the Tasman, it is for everyone, everywhere! You have 17 months to save and plan and look forward to attending this event. I am just so excited. I am grinning like a Cheshire cat.
Sometimes when we are locked in our eating disorder, we wonder how we will fill the emptiness if we dare leave it behind. Well, I can assure you that filling the emptiness is easy soon as you make the decision to let ‘Ed’ go. My life has been transformed in amazing ways – the emptiness is filled to overflowing with positive projects – with writing books and now organising a conference to raise awareness about the illness that kept me prisoner so long. Come for the ride!