Latest news | 13 May 2021

Butterfly Foundation welcomes Federal Budget $26.9m funding announcement for eating disorders


As Butterfly is soon to launch Australia’s first residential treatment centre for eating disorders in Queensland, the Budget announcement could not have come at a better time.

Butterfly CEO, Kevin Barrow, said it was encouraging to see that the government has listened to the voice of lived experience, as well as expert advice to work towards genuinely improving the lives of people living with mental health issues, including eating disorders. “We particularly applaud the commitment of $13m to establish a National Eating Disorder Research Centre. Eating disorders are very complex and the more we understand them the better equipped we will be to address them,” he said.

“We have seen a surge in demand to our services from young Australians and their parents over the last 12 months, so it’s heartening to see the Federal Government recognising the seriousness of the problem in this Budget.”

The Budget measure of $1.9m to train people working at the coalface with adults in mental health treatment centres is a very positive move. We applaud the $3.1m to sponsor up to 390 peer workers to undertake vocational training as we believe the role of the peer workforce will be critical to tackling eating disorders and helping to ensure that recovery is maintained.

Butterfly played a major role in advocating to the Government for specific Medical Benefit items for eating disorders, announced in 2018, and the Budget has committed $2.5m to ensure healthcare professional are properly credentialled and can provide access to high quality care.

These announcements follow significant investment of $70.2m as announced in the Australian Government’s 2019-20 Federal Budget, for in-community residential treatment facilities for eating disorders. Butterfly is soon due to open the first of these, Wandi Nerida, on the Sunshine Coast.

Body dissatisfaction, which is one of the major risk factors for an eating disorder, can develop at an early age. “Next Monday we’ll launch our #ChangeThePicture campaign, which aims to reframe messages Australian society sends to young people about their bodies and appearance to prevent eating disorders early,” said Mr Barrow.

“Research tells us that third of Australians aged 15-19 have serious concerns about body image. It is the third major personal concern, just behind stress and mental health, and ahead of school or study problems and physical health.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the sector to improve the eating disorder system for care and to advocate for greater investment in prevention, early intervention and peer support, with the voice of lived experience firmly at the core of system reform,” Mr Barrow added.