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  • AJ Williams

Eating Disorders: All together now

All Together Now Panel - Eating Disorders as a specialisation or generalist responsibility.

With Deborah Mitchison, Laura Hart, AJ Williams-Tchen, Tracey Wade & Phillippa Hay.

This plenary will provide an update on eating disorders epidemiology and burden, and an examination of the historical deprioritisation of these illnesses in mental health treatment, research and funding. A panel of four speakers and a Chair will take questions from the audience with the aim to discuss how eating disorders can be integrated into the field of mental health and become everybody’s responsibility.

Deb Mitchison is an NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow at the Translational Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, and a clinical psychologist specialising in the treatment of eating disorders. Her research focuses on eating disorder epidemiology, risk, prevalence, distribution, burden and treatment-seeking and she has published > 90 highly cited papers.

Dr. Laura Hart is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Mental Health at the University of Melbourne, and a Director of the not-for-profit health promotion organisation Body Confident Collective. Laura’s research focuses on developing and evaluating programs for the public to improve prevention, awareness and help-seeking for mental illness, with a special focus on eating disorders prevention. She has published 50 peer reviewed papers and three books.

AJ is of Wiradjuri / Wotjobulak Aboriginal background. He is Founder, Director & Lead Consultant of Girraway Ganyi Consultancy since 2007. AJ holds qualifications in Social Work (BSW & MSW), Education (Med), Nursing (specialising in maternal health & mental health), Youth Work (Indigenous adolescence & mental health), Aboriginal Health Work, Community Development, Leadership & Management & Aboriginal Leadership. He is a Principal Master MHFA Instructor, who has provided over 600 Mental Health First Aid courses nationally. AJ has over 30-years experience in the health & community service sector, Aboriginal organisations & communities, TAFEs and universities. From 2010-2015, AJ was the National Program Manager of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander MHFA training program. He is a Cultural Advisor for Independent Schools Victoria, Association of Graduates in Early Childhood Education, Beyondblue, Australian Association of Social Workers, ANZEAD and NDEC. He has been involved in research around Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander MHFA, National Quitline Guidelines & Clinical Guidelines for Eating Disorders in larger bodies. AJ was awarded the 2021 NSW Mental Health Matters Award for ‘Indigenous social & emotional well-being’, the 2016 Emerging Victorian Indigenous Leader Award, the 2019 Frankston Mornington Peninsula NAIDOC ‘Community Award’, 2021 HESTA Awards ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ Finalist and the 2021 Reconciliation Victoria HART Award ‘Highly Commended’ for the Girraway Ganyi Consultancy YouTube channel. AJ was recently awarded the 2021 AASW Aboriginal Social Worker of the Year.

Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor Tracey Wade is a Clinical Psychologist and director of the Flinders University Services for Eating Disorders. She conducts research across a range of clinical settings as well as in schools. She has over 200 peer-reviewed publications and has co-authored three books describing evidence-based therapy approaches for perfectionism and eating disorders.

Professor Hay is an academic psychiatrist and leading mental health researcher. She is the Foundation Chair of Mental Health and academic lead of the Eating Disorders and Body Image (EDBI) group at the Translational Health Research Institute, School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney. Her research focuses on eating disorder epidemiology, burden, treatment and recovery. Prof Hay has published > 330 Scopus indexed scientific papers and 5 books.

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November 2023 saw AJ deliver his 800th MHFA course. This group was to VACCA staff via the AMHFA Blended course. Congratulations to AJ on this achievement.


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