Latest news | 07 Dec 2020

A matter of life or death: Critical funds needed to open Australia’s first eating disorder residential recovery centre


$2.5 million needed to open Wandi Nerida and start delivering life-saving care for Australians with these severe and complex mental illnesses, regardless of their financial status.

Butterfly Foundation is fighting to open the doors of Wandi Nerida, Australia’s first residential recovery centre for Australians with an eating disorder, located on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

The residential centre has received Federal Government funding to support the build and contribute towards the cost of operations, however urgent additional funding is now required to open the doors of Wandi Nerida.

Butterfly Foundation CEO, Kevin Barrow, said a different approach to treatment of eating disorders is now needed in Australia. “Eating disorders have one of the highest mortality rates of all mental illnesses, and with more than one million Australians currently suffering from an eating disorder, every Australian should have access to the right type of treatment, to enable sustainable recovery.”

“A residential eating disorder-specific centre like Wandi Nerida will provide an evidence-informed model-of-care to address all types of eating disorder symptoms and behaviours, as well as socio-psychological factors that can prolong a person’s mental illness,” he said.

Wandi Nerida, meaning ‘gather together to blossom’ is a traditional name gifted to Butterfly by local Elders of the Kabi Kabi Nation. The recovery centre is a multi-disciplinary staffed residence with 13 beds that will pilot the Butterfly Foundation Residential Eating Disorders Treatment (B-FREEDT) Model of Care©, modelled on Carolyn Costin’s Eight Keys to Recovery. It has been purpose-built and will be open to anyone in Australia, to all genders and importantly to people with varying eating disorder presentations.

The phased treatment structure has been adapted for the Australian environment and provides for various interventions focusing on all aspects of an eating disorder, including psychiatric, clinical and nutritional.

“Wandi Nerida will make a significant contribution to improving recovery options for all Australians with complex and enduring eating disorders, especially those cycling in and out of hospital,” added Mr Barrow. “All Australians have the right to access this type of a facility without having to travel internationally. The fact that Butterfly has already received some 200 expressions of interest speaks volumes.”

South Australian father of two, Kelly, has twice been admitted to hospital for his eating disorder.

“Hospitals are not built for looking after eating disorder patients and hospitalisation only works to treat a person medically, rather than focus on a whole-of-person recovery. We need a purpose-built centre like Wandi Nerida, and it is essential we look at a different and a more collaborative approach that encourages long term sustainable recovery,” said Kelly.

According to Wandi Nerida Clinical Director, Dr Zach de Beer, Wandi Nerida will provide personalised recovery-oriented treatment and care, in a tranquil bush environment.

“One of the big differences with our approach is that we have a connection with lived experience,” said Dr de Beer. “Traditionally, practitioners, psychologists, doctors and nurses would treat their patients and not disclose any history or their own lived experience.

“At Wandi Nerida, it’s about that shared connection; we want people to be open and transparent, when appropriate. We have a strong emphasis on hope and that people can recover from an eating disorder.”

Siena, from NSW, was fortunate enough to receive successful treatment from a residential centre in the US.

“It was the best thing I ever did. I’d walked in so malnourished and I couldn’t eat. By the time I left, I felt I had re-learnt life,” she revealed.

“A residential centre has the structure to address mental illness with various interventions in a home-like environment. Having this model of care, dedicated particularly to this mental illness, will save someone’s life, and it’s needed now.”

For Pheobe from WA, being in an environment where she could see and hear recovery journeys first-hand was what contributed to her recovery from an eating disorder.

“In a hospital, your only connection is with the other patients and this can be really unhealthy and demoralising. It can perpetuate being stuck in the bubble as everyone around you is engaging in the same behaviours,” she said.

“Wandi Nerida will have a huge impact on eating disorder recovery. The program model is also inspiring for people who are suffering as they can see it is possible to recover.”

“Opening the doors of Wandi Nerida will be a critical turning point for future eating disorder treatment models in Australia. We urgently need the funds to open the doors in the first half of 2021 as planned, and make it accessible to anyone who is eligible, regardless of their financial circumstances,” said Mr Barrow.

Find out more about Wandi Nerida



NOTE TO ALL EDITORS AND PRODUCERS – Please refer to the Mindframe Guidelines for reporting of eating disorders. Please include help seeking advice in all media coverage. Anyone needing support with eating disorders or body image issues is encouraged to contact Butterfly’s National Helpline 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or

 Help and Support

Anyone needing support with eating disorders or body image issues is encouraged to contact:

  • Butterfly National Helpline on 1800 33 4673 (1800 ED HOPE) or
  • Eating Disorders Victoria Helpline on 1300 550 23
  • For urgent support call Lifeline 13 11 14