Latest news | 10 Jan 2024

Butterfly launches Next Steps Outpatient Program to fill desperate gap in care and make eating disorder recovery a reality


Butterfly’s new virtual outpatient program will provide critical support for people transitioning out of inpatient care to reduce relapse and readmission. 

10 January 2024 

Butterfly Foundation, the national charity for all people in Australia who are affected by eating disorders, is announcing the launch of the Next Steps Outpatient Program, following public donations and $2.8million funding from the Department of Health.  

While 72% of people can reach full recovery and good quality of life when treatment is delivered by skilled and knowledgeable health professionals, 25% of people with eating disorders will experience a severe and long-term illness [1].

Next Steps is one of the first programs of its kind in Australia, providing essential intermediate level of care after inpatient treatment, critical to reducing relapse and readmission after leaving hospital or residential programs to aid long term recovery.  

Now open to applicants for the first program intake in early 2024, Next Steps is an open, intensive outpatient program for 10-12 participants that provides a minimum of 3 hours support per day, 3 days a week, for 8 weeks.

The program is led by a multidisciplinary team, including weekly individual psychology, dietetic and peer worker sessions, structured meal support and group programs, weekly psychoeducational sessions and support groups for carers. Participants will also receive nursing support and regular case conferencing with a GP or psychiatrist to ensure there is continuity in their treatment plan.  

Crucially, Next Steps is a virtual program, providing a lifeline for people in regional or remote areas who lack community services when leaving inpatient treatment, with 94% of people with an eating disorder saying that living in regional and remote Australia is an obstacle to accessing help [2]. 

Natalie Spicer, Head of Clinical and Support Services at Butterfly Foundation says, “We know that person-centred stepped care is the most effective way to treat someone with an eating disorder, but currently step-down support after hospital or residential centres is missing for many people.  

“We are confident that Butterfly’s Next Steps Outpatient Program will help make recovery a reality and reduce the revolving door of hospital admissions by better coordinating mental and physical healthcare, nutritional and carer support after someone leaves inpatient treatment. This in turn will help limit pressure on the health system, reduce the likelihood of readmissions and ensure people can be supported within their own communities. “ 

Sarah Cox, who has lived experience of Anorexia Nervosa, says, “There were multiple times when I was discharged from being tube fed in hospital, straight back into to the life, habits and environment that were reinforcing my eating disorder, with no referrals or supports in place. On several occasions, I was discharged and readmitted to hospital before any community support could be put in place. As someone who has no family supports this was particularly challenging.  

“Dedicated, intensive support on a day-to-day basis after leaving inpatient care was what helped me transition home successfully, with a plan and appointments booked in advance. This support helped me to do things like remove diet food, throw out scales, go grocery shopping and prepare and eat meals at home.  

“A program like Next Steps would have been a lifeline for me and will be essential to help keep those with eating disorders out of hospital and in the community. “ 

The Next Steps program has been developed by a team of health professionals with significant input from an expert advisory group, people with a lived experience of an eating disorder and their carers. The program will be evaluated by an independent team of university researchers, with outcomes reported to the Department of Health and Ageing. 

Butterfly’s Next Steps Outpatient Program is now open to applicants: 



Media Contact 

Harriet Potter, Communications Manager, Butterfly Foundation  

0451 837 044  

Editor and producers note 

Please include the following Helpline details in all media coverage and refer to the Mindframe Media guidelines for safe reporting on eating disorders.  

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