House debates

Thursday, 30 November 2023


Eating Disorders, Climate Change, Multiculturalism

4:35 pm

Photo of Allegra SpenderAllegra Spender (Wentworth, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

More people die each year in Australia due to eating disorders than on our roads. This shocking statistic reflects what I'm hearing from our community. I was recently approached by a young woman in Paddington who told me about her experience with an eating disorder and the difficulties of getting treatment, with one doctor saying she wasn't yet sick enough for care. She was admitted soon after and became friends with another young woman receiving the same treatment. This other young woman, tragically, died. This woman was heartbroken and grieving but ultimately frustrated and angry about the lack of support for her and her friends.

Earlier this month, I held a body image forum in Wentworth with the Butterfly Foundation which brought together experts and advocates as well as people with lived experience to discuss how we can best support young people experiencing negative body image. We heard about the importance of talking with your child if they make comments about their own body or somebody else's as well as the challenge of social contagion in schools. People also shared concerns about 'what I eat in a day' trends on social media and outdated methods still used in health classes such as measuring BMI. The National Eating Disorders Strategy that the government has put forward is a promising start to addressing some of these issues, but the government must ensure adequate funding and ensure that this plan delivers prevention as well as treatment. I also commend the member for Goldstein, who has been working tirelessly on this issue for this parliament, and look forward to the recommendations she will bring forward, alongside the Butterfly Foundation and others, relating to social media and eating disorder.

In Wentworth I will be providing resources to schools as well as to young people and their parents about how they can best support each other in the situation of eating disorders. I will also be working nationally to ensure that we get support for eating disorders in order to make a difference to Australians around the country. This is important work and will be one of my priorities for the year ahead.

In last year's election Australians voted for strong climate action. They voted to end the denial and delay and get on top of lowering our emissions and our power bills with cheaper renewable energy. We've made significant steps forward, with emissions now estimated to reduce by 42 per cent by 2030, compared with just 30 per cent under the previous government. It has been a privilege to strengthen some of those key policies that have got us to this point, including reforming the safeguard mechanism and a billion-dollar investment to help households electrify.

Today's Annual climate change statement 2023 makes clear that the ship has turned around, but it is not full steam ahead yet. Our actions are still not enough to meet Labor's modest 43 per cent target and fall well short of a minimum 50 per cent reduction that is aligned with science. That's why I will be pushing for more ambitious climate action over the coming year, including a people power plan to lower energy bills, a strong fuel efficiency standard to improve access to cleaner vehicles and the incorporation of climate into our national environment laws.

Finally, I'd like to mark the end of the year with a story from my own community. My children go to a school with a lot of diversity and that brings together children of different faiths. Children from Christian families, Jewish families, other faiths and those without faith come together at the end of the year to mark the end of the year. This is a time of significance and celebration, but it comes when the world seems chaotic and when an international tragedy weighs heavily on our minds.

So what a joy it was last week to attend my and other people's children's school end-of-year performance, where children from different faiths told the stories. We had Christian children telling the story of Christmas. We had the Jewish students telling us the story of Hanukkah. We had other children of other faiths and no faith celebrating the world together and peace together.

It was inspiring. At a time when we are struggling for social cohesion, it was an inspiring moment to see those children out there on stage respectfully sharing their faiths and coming together as one to celebrate this time of year. It is a special time of year, and I hope that we all enjoy a peaceful and restful summer spent with those we love.