Latest news | 11 May 2022

20 years of advovacy, treatment and prevention – Butterfly Foundation for eating disorders and body image issues sets its sights on The Next 20


Butterfly launches new campaign celebrating its 20th anniversary and setting the agenda for the next 20 years of treatment and prevention of eating disorders and body image issues in Australia.

Butterfly’s big ambitions include:

  • A national parliamentary inquiry into body image
  • Preventing eating disorders from occuring
  • Reducing stigma and increasing help-seeking
  • Improving eating disorder treatment and support services

WEDNESDAY 11 MAY 2022 – From humble beginnings over a kitchen table, to the largest national charity for eating disorders and body image issues, Butterfly Foundation has been changing lives for 20 years. To mark the milestone, Butterfly is launching a new campaign – The Next 20 – to acknowledge its legacy, raise critical funds, and outline its ambitions for the next 20 years.

More than a million Australians live with an eating disorder, with many more suffering body image issues. For two decades, Butterfly’s efforts in advocacy, community education, early intervention, prevention and clinical services has helped to significantly change the conversation and understanding around eating disorders, establishing them as serious and complex mental illnesses, rather than a lifestyle choice. However, Butterfly’s work remains critical, as many misconceptions and stigma prevail.

Butterfly Foundation CEO, Kevin Barrow, said, “Anecdotally speaking, the way we talk about eating disorders is about 10 years behind how we now speak about anxiety and depression. Eating disorders are still misunderstood and grossly under-estimated, with stigma and stereotypes acting as a major barrier to help-seeking.

“There is so much more work that needs to be done in the prevention, early intervention, and treatment of eating disorders as well as education for the broader community. But we desperately need the support of our community and are calling for donations so we can deliver on our ambitions for The Next 20. We are only just getting started.”

The individuals featured in The Next 20 reflect the past, present and future of Butterfly. Importantly, each individual either has  a personal lived experience of an eating disorder or a lived experience as a carer to someone living with an eating disorder. They bring diverse experiences to the table, including varying eating disorder presentations, different genders and body shapes, and also represent the multicultural community and the LGBTQIA+ community.


Since its inception in 2002, Butterfly has critically advocated for the needs of those living with eating disorders and body image concerns, amplifying the voice of lived experience. Through government investment and other fundraising initiatives, Butterfly has created and deployed essential services focused on the prevention and treatment of eating disorders as well as fostering healthy body image among children, family and the broader community. For example:

  • Butterfly worked with the Commonwealth Department of Health and other stakeholders to help inform the development of Medicare items and their inclusion on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) from 1 November 2019. These are the only Medicare items available for a specific mental health issue.
  • With seed funding from corporate partner, Sportsgirl, Butterfly established Australia’s only national Helpline for eating disorders and body image issues. Now fully funded by the Federal government, Butterfly’s National Helpline supports more than 30,000 people each year via phone, webchat and email.
  • Butterfly developed and launched Australia’s first whole of school prevention program for primary schools – Butterfly Body Bright – which has now expanded to 180 schools nationally. The program fosters positive body image in primary school aged children and builds confidence for them to call out appearance-based teasing and bullying.
  • Butterfly opened Australia’s first residential facility for the treatment of eating disorders. Wandi Nerida on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast provides a unique multi-disciplinary treatment model and has supported more than 60 participants through the program since opening its doors in July 2021.
  • Butterfly has continued to innovate and engage our community and raise awareness. In 2021, Butterfly launched its award-winning podcast, Let’s Talk, educating and engaging listeners to breaking down prevailing myths and stigma around eating disorders.
  • In the latest budget announcements, Butterfly was pleased to see the Federal Government commit to our recommendations for the reimbursement of case conferencing in the navigation of care for eating disorders (as well as under other mental health plans). Butterfly identified this as a real gap in the system of care as part of its evaluation of the Sunshine Coast Eating Disorders Access Trial (SCEDAT), and successfully advocated for this critical inclusion.



 Establish a national inquiry into body image:

The Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct on Body Image was established more than 12 years ago after the formation of the National Advisory Group on Body Image in 2009. Since then, significant social and technological developments mean the Code is outdated. Given the rapid evolution and adoption of social media, we urgently need an inquiry that considers current evidence, and the impact social media, traditional media and technology have on body image and body satisfaction.

Invest in prevention:

Body dissatisfaction often begins early in life – in children as young as 5. The trajectory towards the development of body image issues and eating disorders can be disrupted by addressing modifiable risk and protective factors within school, community, and home settings. Butterfly is the only organisation providing national prevention programs, and urgently needs funding to provide evidence-based programs to more schools across Australia.

 Reduce stigma and increase help-seeking:

Stigma and shame are the most frequently identified barriers to help-seeking among people with eating disorders. Eating disorder stigma requires a targeted communications approach to make an impact. Greater help-seeking, particularly at earlier stages of the illness, offers the best chance for full recovery. Butterfly is uniquely-placed to continue to drive innovative campaigns and messaging to help to break down stigma and smash eating disorder myths, building on highly successful campaigns that include Body Kind, An ED Looks Like Me, Change the Picture, and EveryBODY is Deadly.

 Service development:

Support innovation by trialling, evaluating, and implementing new forms of treatment to address gaps in the system of care. The success of Wandi Nerida, as well as the state and territory facilities currently being developed, will depend on the step-down care available for participants after their stay. We need options to support participants coming out of residential facilities, so they can maintain their recovery safely from home, wherever that might be. We also need continued funding for Wandi Nerida to deliver this unique model of care and complete critical independent evaluations.


Please head to The Next 20 to view video and campaign content, or to request an interview with a Butterfly spokesperson, please get in touch with the media contacts below.

Butterfly cannot continue its critical work without ongoing support from government, corporate partners and community donations. To help Butterfly deliver on its ambitions now and for #TheNext20, please donate at




Media Contacts

Alex Cowen

Communications Manager

Ph: 0497 008 716



Emma Bedson

Edelman for Butterfly Foundation

Ph: 0432 904 035



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.

About Butterfly

Butterfly Foundation is the national charity for all Australians impacts by eating disorders and body image issues, and for the families, friends and communities who support them. Butterfly operates a National Helpline that supports over 30,000 people each year. We also provide a wide range of individual and group-based programs for people in recovery, carers and family members, while our prevention programs address the modifiable risk factors in the development of body image issues and 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) chat online or
  • Find useful articles & resources via Butterfly’s COVID Help Hub
  • Find a professional via Butterfly’s Referral Database
  • Eating Disorders Victoria Helpline on 1300 550 23
  • For urgent support call Lifeline 13 11 14