Claire Vickery

Having two daughters with eating disorders was the start of Claire Vickery's journey to improve the services and resources available to them.

Honour Roll

Motivated by her personal experience of the gaps and variable practices in the health system, together with the general stigma and lack of understanding of eating disorders, she formed the Butterfly Foundation. But the Foundation is not a service provider or a referral service.

With corporate and philanthropic support, the Foundation provides financial assistance to eating disorder sufferers to help them access to specialist support and services they would otherwise be unable to afford. This is of particular value for people who live in rural and regional areas where fewer services are available. In addition to direct assistance, the Foundation has also helped develop regional, state and national networks.

In seeking new and innovative pathways for prevention and treatment Claire's aim has been to make treatments more holistic by joining health service providers together. Through this effort the Foundation has influenced national and international eating disorder programs and initiatives. Claire has been leading the Foundation in a number of other developments such the establishment of the first publicly-funded Adolescent Eating Disorders Day Centre; and the annual Butterfly Ball for 18 to 25 year olds and the Butterfly Art Award to raise awareness about body image and eating disorders with young people.

Her work with the Foundation has a made a unique contribution by bringing together hospitals, mental health services, dieticians, GPs, psychologists, schools, teachers and student wellbeing coordinators. Claire has shared her personal experience of eating disorders with courage and honesty as a way of promoting the message that eating disorders are about "feelings not food". Her approach is based on her belief that if the causes of eating disorders lie within the community, then treatment should also be community-based and not only 'medicalised'.

"I realised we needed to reach out to the sufferers of eating disorders and the people around them. People need to feel they are surrounded by empathy, compassion and a sense of belonging to a community." she said. Her outstanding contribution to those who have suffered and to those who care for sufferers of eating disorders, has meant that more young people and their families are now able to lead productive and fulfilling lives.