A BRIEF HISTORY
In Australia, the process of de-institutionalization of mental health care began in the early 1970s with funding from the Whitlam government. Consequently, the momentum to close tertiary mental health institutions, with the intent to build new community-based services, increased during the 1980s and 1990s. However, “there is almost universal agreement amongst mental health experts that this process has not been adequately funded, and thus, many of those new services were never established. As a result, people with severe mental health issues have suffered a dire lack of appropriate care.
Eating disorders (and mental illness in general) are an area of health which has been unacceptably neglected in terms of provision of adequate services, funding and attention throughout the history of Australia’s health system. This is despite four consecutive National Mental Health Plans over the past 3 decades (and plans for a fifth) each promising a significant improvement in community mental health services. As a result of non-deliverance, Australia’s rate of suicide is devastatingly high.