Latest news | 15 May 2024

Welcome support for critical body image programs, but investment for preventing and treating eating disorders comes up short


15 May, 2024

Butterfly welcomes the Federal Government’s recognition of our landmark whole of primary school program, Butterfly Body Bright. The 12-month extension of our current funding agreement with an additional $150,000 will contribute to our work continuing to promote healthy attitudes and behaviours towards the body, eating, and physical activity in children so they can thrive both at school and in life. 

We also welcome the announcement of a 12 month extension of funding for the National Eating Disorders Collaboration to support implementation of the National Eating Disorders Strategy 2023-2033. The National Strategy provides the roadmap for progress towards an effective, equitable and accessible stepped system of care for eating disorders.

We are also pleased to see a partial extension of current funding for our colleagues at Eating Disorders Families Australia, and broader mental health investments in mental health, such as a national early intervention service and the development of the peer workforce. We look forward to collaborating with others in the sector to ensure these initiatives are responsive to the needs of people with eating disorders and their loved ones.   

However we are disappointed that there is no other funding for eating disorders and negative body image, despite the devastating increase in prevalence and cost. Launched in February this year, our Paying the Price 2024 report revealed a shocking 21% increase in the number of people with eating disorders and a 36% increase in economic cost since 2012. Not only do people currently living with an eating disorder need further support, but we must see an increased investment into prevention and early intervention to stop more Australians from developing these debilitating mental illnesses.   

With less than one in three of those affected seeking help and 1,273 deaths due to an eating disorder in 2023 – higher than the national road toll – it is clear much more needs to be done to resolve what the Minister for Health has previously described as a health crisis.    

Butterfly’s vision is that ‘all people in Australia can live free of eating disorders and negative body image.’ As a not-for-profit charity, we cannot do this without significant government investment.

To make our vision a reality, next month we will be starting a new research study of the economic and social impact of appearance ideals in Australia. This will be the first time a study of this kind has been undertaken in Australia. Findings will be shared with government and other stakeholders early in 2025. 


Media Contact

Harriet Potter, Communications Manager, Butterfly Foundation | 0451 837044

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