By Monica McGrath


Trekking Kokoda for Eating Disorders

Over 11 years ago, Jacqui lost over half of her body weight. She was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, she was 19 years old. Jacqui was studying at university, popular and seemingly had everything to look forward to. It was so hard for Jacqui to understand why she would suffer such an isolating and embarrassing mental illness.

Jacqui spent the next 11 years battling anorexia. With the support of family and friends she was able to work hard to get healthy and manage the disorder. Jacqui often thinks that if only she had received the right professional support early on, her struggle could have been significantly reduced.

During her 11-year battle, Jacqui learnt much about the disorder. Over two million people in Australia suffer from an eating disorder. Nearly 40,000 people in Canberra alone. Anorexia has the highest death rate of any mental illness in Australia. Those suffering from anorexia are 32 times more likely to commit suicide. A shocking statistic, given our suicide rates are far too high as it is.

Despite having a negative experience of seeking help from health professionals clearly not equipped to support the illness, Jacqui still considers herself to be one of the lucky ones. With supporting friends and family, Jacqui was able to overcome the illness. Many people do not have that kind of support.

Now that Jacqui is well enough, she wants to give something back to help others with the disorder. At present, Canberra does not have enough support available to care for people with eating disorders. Many health professionals feel that they lack the training, expertise and confidence to treat or support patients with eating disorders. This is the focus of for the fundraising campaign that Jacqui commenced last year.

On 14 April 2018 Jacqui will be travelling from Canberra to Papua New Guinea and will be trekking the Kokoda Track. It will take over 9 days. Jacqui is looking to obtain sponsorship from successful Canberra businesses for each day of the trek. To sponsor Jacqui for a day, businesses will need to make a contribution of $2,000.00. To sponsor Jacqui, you can contact her via her Facebook page: Kokoda Trail: 96km in 9 days. Further to this, monetary donations, of any size, are welcomed at Jacqui’s Crowd Funding page: Trekking Kokoda 96km in 9 days.

All money raised will be provided to the Canberra Hospital Foundation to be specifically used to upskill our health professionals in the general medical wards, so they can better treat and support people with eating disorders.

You might be wondering why a law firm would be interested in sponsoring an Eating Disorder campaign. Mental health issues, in particular eating disorders, anxiety and depression, are just too common among lawyers and law students in the legal profession. While more common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are now being targeted, academics at the School of Law at the University of Western Australia are now suggesting that support for eating disorders is getting ‘lost in the shuffle’ [1]. When Aulich heard of Jacqui’s story it struck a chord and we thought we should help as much as we can.

[1] Emma Ryan, ‘Addressing disordered eating in the legal profession’, Lawyers Weekly (online) 19 September 2017 <>.

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