Latest news | 14 Jul 2021

Federal Government to provide $300k for Butterfly Foundation to provide urgent additional support in NSW for those with eating disorders and body image issues


With increasing concerns and likely extended lockdowns in NSW due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Gladys Berejiklian have announced an additional $300,000 in funding for Butterfly Foundation, the national organisation for eating disorders and body image issues, to provide urgent support to young people and families at risk, as part of a $17.35m Commonwealth mental health package to support NSW residents.

Since Covid, Butterfly has experienced a significant surge in demand to all services, including to Australia’s only national Helpline for eating disorders and body dissatisfaction, prevention services in schools and community, and support groups and other treatment services. While statistics are not yet available for the impact of the latest restrictions, Butterfly has seen a spike in contacts from states experiencing lockdown over the past 18 months or so, particularly from Victoria most recently. It is expected that the latest restrictions in NSW will have a similar effect on local residents.

Butterfly CEO, Kevin Barrow, said he welcomed the initiative to minimise the impact of Covid on the mental health of those at risk. “Contacts to the Butterfly national Helpline webchat increased by 116 per cent over the last year,” he said. “Demand for Butterfly’s school services was already up by 150 per cent during the first school term of 2021, compared to pre-Covid term 1 in 2019. We can only expect this to continue as young people in NSW are again having to attend classes remotely and deal with the strain and uncertainty of extended lockdowns.”

“People experiencing an eating disorder are under much more stress and pressure, which often increases eating disorder symptoms. During periods of isolation and tighter restrictions people find it harder to access treatment and care, and we know that both the public and private sectors are struggling to meet demand, with many private healthcare practitioners having to close their books on eating disorder clients,” he added.

“Eating disorders have one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness,” said Kevin. “This funding will go some way to further supporting our community in NSW, for those who are experiencing or at risk of an eating disorder, or struggling with body image concerns, and their carers.”

“We will continue to work with our state and federal governments and within the sector to improve the eating disorder system for care, with the voice of lived experience firmly at the core of system reform.”



Media Contact

Melissa Wilton, Head of Comms & Engagement

0402 259 652


Editor and producers note: Please include the following support line details in all media coverage of this story and refer to the Mindframe Media guidelines for safe reporting on eating disorders. Please include the following helpline message.

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