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HAES Australia is an advocacy, not an activist, organisation. 

An activist is a ‘person who believes strongly in political or social change and takes part in activities such as public protests to try and make this happen’. To be an activist is to act on behalf of solving social and political issues. It is to be at the forefront of a movement, often times compromising one’s own energy in order to seek justice and evoke change. Fat Activism plays an important role in bringing about societal and structural change in attitudes about larger-bodied people with the ultimate aim of an end to discrimination and stigma towards larger-bodied people, enabling full and equal participation in society. 

To be an advocate is ‘to publicly support or suggest an idea, development, or way of doing something’. Whilst activists are often the ‘front line’, protesting, advocates more often work within the existing systems, trying to raise awareness of the problems in a more tempered or strategic way. Advocates use a range of strategies to encourage change makers to listen and engage in change. Although different, both activists and advocates are necessary in order to create systemic change.

The decision to commit to advocacy rather than activism was made because:

· Most of HAES Australia’s founding members were not fat activists

· HAES Australia’s members were health professionals, not all of whom were larger bodied

· The focus on weight-inclusive health care is a much narrower scope than Fat Activist issues, which focus on human rights more broadly

· HAES Australia’s status as a volunteer-run organisation meant that responding quickly to time-pressured, social-media based activist campaigns was not possible

· The overall skillset of HAES Australia volunteers was more suited to advocacy activities (e.g. writing submissions to government, forming alliances with other health-related not-for-profits) 

In 2016 our membership and advocacy aims were ratified in the HAES Australia constitution:

1.    Support, connect and promote professionals, researchers, and organisations in health, fitness & wellness fields who/which practice a weight-neutral, non-diet, client-centred approach to wellbeing aligned with the ‘Health At Every Size’ (HAES) principles defined by the Association for Size Diversity & Health (ASDAH).

2.    Increase professional and public awareness of weight-neutral, non-diet, client-centred practice and research outcomes.

The criticism that HAES Australia does not engage in acts of fat activism and fat liberation is one that re-appears regularly. Given that Australia does not yet have a formal Fat Activist organisation to support the advancement of broader legal and social rights for larger-bodied people (beyond our focus on health related issues), this is understandable. HAES Australia wholeheartedly commits to supporting, aligning with and learning from such an organisation should it be formed by Australian Fat Activists.  

Advocacy Activities Completed by HAES Australia:

HAES Australia’s Mission is to “support equitable access to evidence-based healthcare and life-enhancing practices for people of every size, through information, resources, and advocacy”. We recognise that we can do a better job of communicating the advocacy activities of the organisation to demonstrate ongoing commitment to this Mission.

Since 2017, HAES Australia volunteers have completed a number of advocacy projects to directly influence weight-centric systems and policies including:

· 2017/18: Representation at the Senate Enquiry into Ob*sity. This included a presentation from a Fat Activist founding member directly to the Senate, and a video from another Fat Activist who had presented her experience in eating disorder treatment at the 2018 ANZAED conference

· 2017/18: Developed the ‘Ob*sity’ and Eating Disorders’ Position Statement

· 2017/18: Developed the Weight Neutral Care Position Statement

· 2018/19: Response to the ‘Fast Track to Health’ study

· 2018/19: Letter to Senator Bridget McKenzie, Sports Minister, re. mocking larger bodied people at the Ob*sity Summit

· 2018/19: Letter to the Hon Greg Hunt, Health Minister, and Dr Lisa Studdert, Chair of the National Preventative Health Strategy 

· 2018/19: Supported the “Equally Well” Consensus Statement

· 2018/19: Met with ‘Inside Out’ regarding opportunities to collaborate

· 2019/20: Submission to the Australian Government Department of Health National Ob*sity Strategy consultation 

· 2019/20: Submission to the Review of the Pregnancy Care Guidelines consultation

· 2019/20: Sponsoring and giving a presentation at the online FSNZ20 Fat Studies: Past, Present, Futures Conference

· 2019/20: COVID-19 and Weight Stigma Awareness Week social media campaigns

· 2020/21: National Grammar Day social media campaign to counter World Ob*sity Day led by the Lived Experience Advisory Board

· 2020/21: Submission to Consultation Survey - MSAC Application for Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty for the Treatment of Patients With Class 1 and II Ob*sity. 

· 2020/2021: Submission to the Draft National Preventive Health Strategy

· 2020/21: Collaboration with the Eating Disorders Alliance of Australia (EDAA), joint statement pointing out the potential dangers of the SBS documentary “What Does Australia Really Think About Ob*sity?”

· 2020/2021: HAES Australia free webinar “Health At Every Size: The Bigger Picture”, hosted by Eating Disorders Victoria


Policy submissions

Draft National Preventive Health Strategy Consultation

April 2021

Draft National Preventive Health.pdf

What happened:

The launch of the National Preventive Health Strategy has been delayed due to the COVID-19 response.

Review of Pregnancy Care Guidelines on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Weight

July 2020

HAESAustralia_Pregnancy Care Guidelines.pdf

What happened:

At least three of HAES Australia’s recommendations were adopted. The new guidelines:

  • include a section on weight stigma,
  • recommend appropriate education to support lifestyle discussions, and
  • require health professionals to ask women* for their consent to be weighed.

The adoption of these recommendations is a significant step towards respectful care and body autonomy during pregnancy

"National Obesity Strategy Consultation"       

December 2019

HAES Australia_NOS.pdf

What happened:

The Consultation report (content warning: medicalisation of higher body weight) was released late 2020, with a featured quote from HAES Australia recommending that:

"policies recognise human diversity and support each child’s individual pattern of growth and development to improve their short and long-term health and wellbeing (p. 46)". 

The draft final strategy will be considered by State and Federal Health Ministers in 2022.

"Select Committee into the Obesity Epidemic in Australia"

July 2018

HAESAustralia_Select Committee Submission.pdf

What happened:

HAES Australia influenced the first two recommendations of the Final Report that:

  • Recommendation 1 Commonwealth funding … should be contingent on the appropriate use of language to avoid stigma and blame in all aspects of public health campaigns, program design and delivery.
  • Recommendation 2 The Commonwealth Department of Health work with organisations responsible for training medical and allied health professionals to incorporate modules specifically aimed at increasing the understanding and awareness of stigma and blame in medical, psychological and public health interventions.

Official responses 

HAES Australia’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic 2020

April 2020

HAES Australia’s Response to the “Fast Track to Health” Study

February 2019

Position statements

Weight-neutral Care


A foundation document that defines a Health at Every Size® approach that can be used by practitioners and consumers of health care to advocate for weight-neutral care. 

HAESAustralia_Weight Neutral Care.pdf

Eating disorders and 'Obesity'


Defines the screening, assessment and treatment of eating disorders from a size acceptance framework.

HAESAustralia_Eating Disorders and Obesity.pdf

If you are concerned about an issue that relates to HAES Australia's vision and mission and requires strategic, collective advocacy, please contact us HAESAustralia@gmail.com.

Acknowledgement of Country

HAES Australia acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waters, where we live, work and play.  We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

We commit to ongoing learning and growth as we become an inclusive and diverse community.

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PO Box 201,


Qld 4120

HAES Australia Inc is an Incorporated Association registered with the Queensland Office of Fair Trading, IA41314

ABN: 69738175815

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